Local bail bondsman charged in scheme

A bail bond agent who lives in Seal Beach was arrested and charged on Thursday, July 1, with soliciting attorney referrals and inmate business, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office announced.

California law forbids bail bond employees from soliciting business from people in jail and from recommending lawyers to bail bond customers.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, Ronald Lee Brockway, 50, Seal Beach, was charged with two felony counts of violating bail license regulations and faces a maximum sentence of three years and eight months in state prison.

He was arrested Thursday, July 1, by Orange County District Attorney’s Office Investigators and was being held on $50,000 bail.

The DA’s office issued a press release announcing Brockway’s arrest at 9:26 a.m. on July 1.

However, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department Web site, ocsd.org, Brockway was released on bail at 6:52 p.m., Thursday, July 1.

Brockway is accused of sending 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 is accused of suggesting that the attorneys refer bail bond business to him.

He is also accused of offering to refer clients to the attorneys in order to “increase both of our earnings substantially.” On at least one occasion, Brockway is accused of referring an attorney by name and phone number to a bail bond client.

Brockway is also accused of unlawfully soliciting 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 is accused of knowing that his referral and solicitation schemes were illegal based on his prior experience with illegal client referrals.

Attorneys are also 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, according to a press release issued by the DA’s Office.

Brockway testified to the Orange Grand Jury in 2005 regarding a similar case involving attorney Joseph Cavallo.

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 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.

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