Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
January 27, 2011
Susan Kang Schroeder
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.