Thursday, October 11, 2012

Kansas City Attorney accused of killing father makes $1 million bond

Where did the money come from?  That's what everyone wants to know.  The accused herself was supposedly broke and just declared bankruptcy, but somehow a million dollar check made its way to the courthouse so that Susan Elizabeth Van Note could get out of jail.  Her criminal defense attorney doesn't know..the bankruptcy trustee doesn't know..the prosecutor doesn't know... and everyone is left wondering.  Who made the million dollar cash only bond on Susan Van Note?

Here is the article in the Kansas City Star.


 KC attorney's posting of $1M bond raises questions

Three years ago, Kansas City attorney Susan Elizabeth Van Note filed for bankruptcy, unable to pay nearly $400,000 in debt. Last week, she was able to come up with $1 million for a cash bond while awaiting trial in the death of her father for allegedly forging documents to deny him life-sustaining medical treatment.

The trustee in the bankruptcy case wants to know where that bond money came from, The Kansas City Star reported Wednesday.  Attorney Erlene Krigel said at the time she couldn't find any assets to help satisfy the creditor claims against Van Note, who owed more on her home and two car loans than the property was worth. Krigel said she would inform the U.S. Trustee Office, which appointed her to the case and is an arm of the Department of Justice.  "It's very important we know where that money came from," she said.

Defense attorney Tom Bath said he doesn't know where his client got the bond money. He also couldn't identity of the person who presented a cashier's check at the Boone County Jail. But he suggested a friend could have helped.  Van Note has pleaded not guilty to felony forgery and first-degree murder charges. Her father, 67-year-old William B. Van Note, and his companion, 59-year-old Sharon Dickson, were shot at their Lake of the Ozarks home in Sunrise Beach in October 2010.

Dickson died at the scene, while the elder Van Note was hospitalized for four days before his daughter allegedly gave doctors a forged durable power of attorney that persuaded them to remove his life support. Charges haven't been filed in Dickson's death.  Some are wondering whether any of the bond money came from the estate of William Van Note, a millionaire businessman.  Camden County prosecutor Brian Keedy said he too was surprised that Van Note is out of jail. On Tuesday, he went to the Columbia courthouse to view the cashier's check, which was drawn on Landmark Bank.  "I've never heard of anyone making a million-dollar cash-only bond," Keedy said. "But if she has the ability to do it ."

Van Note's attorney has acknowledged his client forged the document but said she did so only because she couldn't find one her father actually signed. Bath also said no physical evidence places Liz Van Note at the crime scene.  A high school classmate of Liz Van Note and the classmate's husband also face charges for allegedly signing the power of attorney as witnesses.  On Sept. 12, about a week after the criminal indictment, an attorney for Sharon Dickson's adult son asked a Clay County judge to remove Liz Van Note from serving as personal representative of her father's estate. According to a lawsuit, William Van Note's will named Sharon Dickson to be personal representative of his estate, but only if she outlived him.

Judge Larry Harmon, citing the charges against Liz Van Note, suspended her from the position, appointed a replacement and ordered that no distributions from the estate take place without a court order.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

National Database goes after Drivers with Unpaid Speeding Tickets

I came across this video on the Fox4 news webpage. It describes the mess that the National Driver Registry has caused some people. The National registry was created to help states identify people that had license suspensions in different states and keep them from going across state lines to get a new license when they should not have one.

This all sounds well and good but states are now using it to collect on speeding ticket and traffic tickets. We all know that the economy is not great and States are doing whatever is necessary to generate revenue, well this is now creating another source. States are combing through the old speeding tickets and traffic tickets that are unpaid and now entering them into this NDR (National Drivers Registry) and suspending people's license based on not taking care of their old tickets.

Most people have no idea until it is too late and they have been pulled over and are facing a Driving on Suspended charge. Here it a link to the video. Below is the story and a link to the NDR and a Q&A for people who are facing a Driving on Suspended Charge.


Link to the NDR:

Driving on Suspended:

National Database Goes after Drivers with Unpaid Speeding Tickets 

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Do you have any unpaid speeding tickets? They could come back to haunt you. States are using a national database designed to track down problem drivers, including drivers with unpaid speeding tickets. If your name appears on the database you could find yourself unable to renew your driver’s license.

That’s what happened to a Missouri man when Florida went after him for a 1983 ticket.

FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar has the story.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bondsman gets sued over harassing wrong people

I saw this article in the Wichita Eagle.  It is crazy what some of these bondmen think they can do.  This is not the first time I have heard of this type of behavior.  Just a month or so ago a young lady came into our office after having been arrested by a bond agent and taken to jail, only to find out she didn't even have a warrant.  The State needs to real these guys in.  Some of these rouge bail bondsmen run around playing cop and end up harassing good people.

Lawsuit alleges bond agent came to wrong Hutch home with guns drawn

By Tim Potter -Wichita Eagle

Agents for bondsmen trying to catch a fugitive in Hutchinson forced their way into the wrong house with guns drawn, awakening and frightening children inside, a lawsuit alleges.  The lawsuit, filed in Reno County District Court, contends that the agents’ actions were “extreme and outrageous” and asks for “in excess of $75,000” in damages.  Defendants are disputing the allegations. Stanley Juhnke, an attorney representing one of the defendants, said: “We admit they were there on the night this took place, but we dispute almost everything else.”  According to the lawsuit, around Sept. 21, 2011, the bond agents were looking for “Lorenzo” but went to the wrong address in the 100 block of East Seventh Street in Hutchinson. A woman knocked on the front door and asked the resident, Samantha Castor, if “Lorenzo” was there and if Castor was “Melissa,” Castor said no to both questions. About the same time, several men broke in through the back door using a crowbar, Castor’s lawsuit says.
“The men were dressed in black and appeared to be police officers, and searched Plaintiffs’ home with drawn guns, pointing guns at each of the Plaintiffs,” the lawsuit says. “The men kicked open the door to the boys’ room and entered with drawn guns stating that they were looking for monsters.” It was shortly before 10 p.m. on a Wednesday.

The lawsuit says the men “refused to allow Samantha Castor to go and be with her minor children while the men searched the home with their drawn guns and entered the bedrooms where the children were sleeping, awakening the children and causing fear.” The children were awakened “by strange men dressed in black with guns,” the lawsuit says. Castor’s children were 10, 8 and 5 at the time.
Castor’s attorney, Matthew Bretz, said the goal of the lawsuit is not to gain money — the lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 — but to dissuade bond agents from the kind of actions described in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit currently names seven defendants: Dwight Jurgens, Tiffany Cleavenger, Gayle Benitez, John Green, Roy Poyner, Jake Lawson and Trina Green. Jurgens and Cleavenger were doing business as TNT Bonding, according to the lawsuit. The men and the woman who came to the home were agents of Jurgens and Cleavenger, and those two are liable for the agents’ actions, the lawsuit says. It says defendants gave the men and the woman the wrong address.

Neither Jurgens or Cleavenger are still agents with TNT, said a man who identified himself as a manager with TNT and declined to give his name.  Juhnke, the attorney who is representing Benitez, one of the defendants, told The Eagle, “There is a huge dispute as to what happened that night. We are confident that at the time of trial, the defense version will prove correct.” Juhnke said Benitez is a bond agent in Hutchinson working as an independent contractor. He said Benitez was there that night “only in a role to assist to see if the person they were looking for was there.”

John Green, another defendant, sent a letter to Castor’s lawyer in July denying all allegations and statements by Castor. The letter said that if the lawsuit was not dismissed, Green would file a counter claim “for loss of wages, all legal expenses, mental anguish, slander, defamation of character, damages … for over $200,000.”  Green, reached Friday by The Eagle, said, “I’m waiting for my day in court.”
In a separate case, involving Jurgens and his role as a bondsman, Jurgens is facing two misdemeanor charges of attempted promotion of prostitution. According to court documents, the alleged crimes occurred around Sept. 18 and Sept. 21. District Attorney Keith Schroeder said the allegations are that Jurgens “was soliciting sexual favors in return for his involvement as a bondsman.”

Neither Jurgens nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

Kyle Smith, deputy director of the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, said Kansas law requires bondsmen or bounty hunters to inform law enforcement officers of their intent to apprehend someone, and failure to do so is a misdemeanor, and a felony for second or subsequent incidents. The law says the bond agent must inform local law enforcement officials “before attempting such apprehension” and says “law enforcement may accompany … the agent.”  Green told The Eagle that before the agents went to Castor’s home, they notified Hutchinson police, and police “were in the vicinity of that house, and they were sitting on a street corner watching us when we left. The reason they were there, why we called them, is we needed them close,” Green said.

Hutchinson police Capt. Troy Hoover said he couldn’t confirm if police had been notified, “but I couldn’t say that it didn’t happen.”  It’s not clear if “Lorenzo” was ever caught.  Compared with other states, Kansas law is vague about what bondsmen or bounty hunters can do, said Stephen Owens, owner of Wichita-based Owens Bonding Inc. and president of the Kansas Bail Agents Association.
A bond agent trying to catch someone should call 911 dispatchers and inform them when they are going to apprehend someone wanted by a court, Owens said.  Still, he said, if a resident has someone show up at their door acting suspiciously, they should call 911.

“The majority of bondsmen are very professional and take their job very seriously,” Owens said.

Read more here: