A 51-year-old Seal Beach bail bondsman tied to ex-Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona's corrupt inner circle was convicted and sentenced to jail time Thursday for his role in an illegal bail-bond-referral scheme that handed Orange County Jail inmates business cards that read, “Get out of jail today by calling now!”
It is illegal for jailers to allow or attorneys and bail agents to participate in the solicitation of business behind bars. Just ask Joseph G. Cavallo, another Carona crony and rabid-attack-dog attorney who shamelessly defended gang rapist and son of an ex-assistant sheriff Gregory Scott Haidl.
After a grand-jury hearing that included testimony from Respect Bail Bond's Ronald Lee Brockway, Cavallo pleaded guilty in October 2007 to being embroiled in an illegal bail-bonds conspiracy. Cavallo was sentenced to six months in jail.
But Brockway also damned himself with the testimony, leading to his guilty plea Thursday to two misdemeanor counts of violating bail-license
He was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation. Brockway is also barred from practicing as a bail-bond agent for six months.
Orange County district attorney's office, which had filed felony charges against Brockway, objected to the court reducing the counts to misdemeanors.
The OCDA statement on the conviction follows:
January 27, 2011
BAIL BOND AGENT SENTENCED FOR ILLEGAL REFERRAL SCHEME FOR SOLICITING ATTORNEYS AND INMATES
*Defendant testified to the Grand Jury in 2005 regarding a similar referral scheme case involving attorney Joseph Cavallo
SANTA ANA – A bail bond agent was sentenced today after being convicted
of soliciting attorney referrals and inmate business in an illegal bail
bond referral scheme. Ronald Lee Brockway, 51, Seal Beach, pleaded
guilty to the court to two misdemeanor counts of violating bail license
regulations and was sentenced to one year in jail, three years of formal
probation, and is barred from practicing bail bonds for six months. The
charges were filed as felonies and the People objected to the reduction
of the counts to misdemeanors.
California law prohibits bail bond employees from soliciting bail
business from any inmate or incarcerated person. The law also prohibits
bail bond employees from recommending any attorney to any bail bond
client, even if no money changes hands. Attorneys are similarly
prohibited from paying non-lawyers for client referrals. These
regulatory laws do not allow bail agents to exercise any influence over
the choice of counsel in order protect the consumer and the community
from unscrupulous, secret dealings. The law also protects inmates from
undue influence during a vulnerable, difficult time in their lives.
Brockway sent numerous e-mails to attorneys soliciting them to
participate in an illegal bail bond scheme with his company, Respect
Bail Bond. In his messages, Brockway suggested that the attorneys refer
bail bond business to him and offered to refer clients to the attorneys
in order to “increase both of our earnings substantially.” On at least
one occasion, Brockway referred an attorney by name and phone number to a
bail bond client.
Brockway also unlawfully solicited business from inmates by mass mailing
flyers to the Orange County jail containing the name of and contact
information for Respect Bail Bond. The flyers read, “Get out of jail
today by calling now!”
Brockway knew that his referral and solicitation schemes were illegal
based on his prior experience with illegal client referrals. In October
2005, Brockway testified in a Grand Jury hearing that he had received
cash payments from attorney Joseph Cavallo in exchange for referring
arrestees to Cavallo's law practice for representation. Brockway was not
prosecuted in that case because his testimony was needed in the
prosecution of more culpable defendants. Cavallo was indicted based
partly on Brockway's testimony. Cavallo pleaded guilty to conspiracy to
engage in attorney capping and an illegal attorney referral scheme on
Oct. 12, 2007, and was sentenced to six months in jail on Dec. 14, 2007.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) Bureau of
Investigation began investigating this case after a private attorney
contacted the OCDA to report receiving the e-mail from Brockway
regarding the illegal referral scheme. The defendant was arrested by
OCDA Investigators July 1, 2010.
Deputy District Attorney
Lynda Fernandez of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.