One great example of why you should choose a reputable bail bonds company.
A Brooklyn-based bail bondsman and bounty hunter has been raising alarms for sending defendants back to jail en masse for seemingly frivolous reasons — then charging them through the nose for the “service.” George Zouvelos, 45, sent at least 18 of his clients back to the slammer just in the past eight days — all for minor alleged violations, like missing a weekly sign-in appointment on the Fourth of July, when his office was closed — the Daily News has learned. Justice John Ingram called the burly bailer’s shady business practices “reprehensible” when questioning him under oath Friday. Zouvelos’ unlicensed company, Spartan Bail, has had 114 complaints filed against it with the state’s Department of Finance since 2005 — more than any other firm in the state. The Finance Department, which likened his contracts to “indentured servitude,” asked a judge in January to revoke his personal bondsman license. A source told The News a decision could come down as early as next week. When a bond is revoked — which can be triggered by any violation of the 87-paragraph contract Zouvelos makes clients sign — the bondsman can keep some of the 10% to 15% collateral for fees and other expenses. When Zouvelos revoked 15 defendants’ bail on July 26, red flags went off.
“Typically one defendant a month is surrendered for this type of violation,” Administrative Justice Barry Kamins emailed colleagues. “It’s an absolute outrage, it’s a disgrace,’” said defense lawyer Barry Krinsky, whose client Warren Salmon missed the July 4 appointment and allegedly didn’t update his phone number. Salmon spent the weekend in Rikers Island and his family had to cough up the fees and collateral for another $7,500 bond. Zouvelos — the founder and chairman of the New York Professional Bondsman and Agents association, and the sole member listed on its website — insisted his business is on the up and up and claimed complaints against him come from those who are “jealous that we’re doing well.” He claimed Salmon missed numerous appointments and his phone was disconnected, adding that other bondsmen revoke bails at the same rate as he does. What sets him apart, he said, is his willingness to help anyone, even the poorest and neediest defendants. “I never heard of such a thing — be transparent and be crucified for it,” complained Zouvelos. “My opinion is that it’s a scam to make money,” another bondsman said.
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