Two weeks after a bail bond agent with a felony record was accused of plotting a murder near St. Louis, the Missouri Department of Insurance has reversed positions and says felons cannot hold bondsmen’s licenses, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The insurance director, Dale Finke, plans a “crackdown” to pull their licenses. Finke said that “a number of felons currently hold licenses granted during the last five years.”
The department has moved to suspend or revoke the license of James G. Cox. The action came four days after the Post-Dispatch requested information about Cox, who remained a licensed bondsman while serving time in a federal prison. Criminal defendants who lack the cash to post with the court for release pending trial can borrow from bond agents, who charge a fee for the service. If a defendant fails to appear, the bondsman must pay, or might avoid paying by hiring a bounty hunter to find and retrieve the customer. Some bondsmen have opposed the licensing of felons for the work; some have supported it. Cox, the bail bondsman in prison, pleaded guilty in federal court last year. He admitted that, while he was a police officer, he made a fraudulent arrest of a woman at the request of a real estate developer involved in a dispute with her.