American Surety Company
According to records with the California Secretary of State, since 2006, American Surety Company has contributed a total of $324,714.53 to committees in California.
According to the National Institute on Money in Politics, American Surety Company spent $214,568 on lobbying from 2013 to 2018.
According to public records with the Indiana Department of Insurance, American Surety Company is wholly owned by Eighth Amendment Holdings, an Indiana S. Corporation. The holding company is owned by three individuals: William B. Carmichael (51%), Michael J. Whitlock (24.5%), and Paul J. Longstreth (24.5%).
William B. Carmichael
President & CEO
Michael J. Whitlock
Executive Vice President
Paul J. Longstreth
CFO, Treasurer & Secretary
Cash Bail Alternatives
Michael Whitlock, Executive Vice President of American Surety, has written several times against a cash bail alternative to the use of bail bonds. In March 2013, Whitlock wrote a letter to the editor in the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Indiana, against an article titled “Judges consider lower bail amounts for some offenses.” He argues against changes in lowering the bail schedule and another change that would allow defendants with certain low-level, non-violent crimes to post a 10 percent cash deposit with the court instead of going to a bondsmen. Whitlock said, “This new bond schedule will put local bail agents out of business.”2
In addition, in March 2017, Whitlock submitted written testimony in Connecticut in regards to Governor’s Bill No. 7044. He wrote, “Our company is opposed to Governor’s Bill No. 7044 generally and the ten percent cash bail option specifically. My testimony pertains to the proposed ten percent cash deposit option in lieu of 100 percent security of the established bail amount.” Whitlock further noted, “Governor Malloy has voiced concerned [sic] the premium costs to purchase a bail bond is nonrefundable and therefore unfair to the criminal offender. He favors ten percent cash bail because the deposit is returned to the defendant upon appearing in court. There is a belief a defendant knowing they will receive a refund of their bail deposit if they return to court will in itself be sufficient incentive to return to court.”
On Criminal Justice Reforms
In May 2019, Whitlock, posted a blog update on the company’s website, detailing work that he had recently done on behalf of the American Bail Coalition and other ABC lobbying efforts. He wrote, “Since I last posted a blog in March, I’ve traveled all over the country. I’ve spent time in New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas (twice) and Washington State. [...] At every stop, the topic of discussion was the push for criminal justice reform and how it would impact the use of commercial bail, or “cash bail” as some like to call it. [...] Most of the agents I speak with around the country are amenable to reasonable reforms within the criminal justice system. Simply eliminating a monetary system of bail that has worked for generations and continues to work today, is not a reform they are willing to concede.”
Earlier, in October 2007, CityLimits.org reported, “The bail bond industry, which doubled in size nationwide from 1997 to 2002, points to those numbers with pride. Mike Whitlock of the American Surety Company, a national leader in the industry, boasts, ‘The only guaranteed form of release is through a bail agent.’”
Randy Quaid’s Lawsuit Over Posted Bond
Independence Day actor Randy Quaid and his wife Evgenia Quaid filed civil plenary suit against American Surety Company in Hamilton Superior Court on April 3, 2014. The Associated Press reported that Randy Quaid claimed “the company posted two $50,000 bonds for the couple without being asked, obligating them to repay bonds that they hadn’t requested. Randy and Evi Quaid were arrested in September 2010 on suspicion that they were living in the guest house of a Montecito, California, home they previously owned. Authorities said at the time the Quaids were suspected of causing more than $5,000 in damage.”
According to their complaint, following this arrest, in September 2010, “American, through its agent, allegedly posted two $50,000 bonds on behalf of the quaids in Santa Barbara County, California,” though they “did not enter into a written agreement with American or its Agent…and did not agree to pay any sums to American or its Agent in exchange for the bonds.” When the Quaids were released from custody, they “believed that criminal charges were no longer being pursued and that their release was not procured via the bonds posted, but because the charges were dropped and the issue would proceed instead as a civil matter.” Given these facts, the Quaids traveled to Vancouver, where they were detailed in October 2010 after they didn’t show up for a court hearing in Santa Barbara related to the case and the court issued a bench warrant for their arrest. Furthermore, the Quaids claimed they had not been notified of the October 2010 court hearing or another one in November 2010 concerning forfeiture of the two $50,000 bonds.
Fraudulent Foreclosure of Collateral Property
In November 2001, Jesús Norberto Cardenas and Rosa Elvira Chavez filed a civil case over fraud against American Surety Company, Underwriters Surety, Already Out Bail Bonds, Commonwealth Land Title Insurance Company, and other individual defendants in San Diego County Superior Court. According to a description of the case on the website for AIA Surety, “relatives of the defendant pledged a house as collateral for the bond. The defendant was released into the custody of INS and immediately deported to Mexico. Naturally, he did not appear for trial and the bond was forfeited. The surety instituted non-judicial foreclosure against the house, and the bail agent, surety and indemnitors made a deal in which the house was sold to the agent with credit on the purchase price for the amount of the bond and various related expenses. The agent neglected to tell the indemnitors that a motion to exonerate the bond based on the deportation was filed and granted, so the agent ended up with no bond liability and the house. The indemnitors found out about the exoneration when they checked the court file on the criminal case and sued for breach of fiduciary duty, fraud, etc.”2
Controversial Bounty Hunter Apprehensions
In February 2004, David and Jennifer Green, two Orange County, Florida residents, filed suit against Abony Bail Bond, American Surety Company, Ronald Johnson, Edward Williams, James Brown, and John Speake in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. The Greens alleged violations of the Civil Rights Act, false arrest and imprisonment, assault and battery, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and negligent infliction of emotion distress. According to background in the case, American Surety Company “insurers and/or underwrites Abony’s bail bonds,” and individual defendants were bail bondsmen employed by Abony. David Green had secured a $500 bond from Abony for an arrest on misdemeanor charges, but he “inadvertently” failed to appear for a court hearing. According to a court order in the case, the following occurred between the Greens and the bail bondsmen employed by Abony on November 11, 2003.3
On the night of November 11, 2003, Mr. and Mrs. Green heard a knock at their door. Shortly thereafter, the Defendants busted through the front entranceway of their home with guns drawn. Although the Greens were unarmed, the Defendants aimed their weapons directly at the Plaintiffs’ heads. At no time, did the Defendants announce their presence or properly identify themselves.
Started by the turbulence, the Green’s dog began barking. In response, one of the Defendants threatened to shoot the animal. When Mrs. Green attempted to contain her pet, a Defendant forcibly grabbed her. That prompted Mr. Green to warn the Defendants not to touch his wife or treat her in that manner. At that time, the Defendants converged on Mr. Green, striking him repeatedly with fists, batons, and flashlights. When Mr. Green went to his knees, the Defendants continued their onslaught. In fact, they intensified their attack by incorporating stun guns.
Horrified by the events taking place in his residence, Mr. Green pleaded to the Defendants for his life. In addition, he begged for his wife’s assistance. The Defendants staved off Mrs. Green by threatening to kill her if she moved any closer toward her husband. Eventually, the Defendants handcuffed Mr. Green, yet, they continued to administer punishing blows and tasars. As a consequence, Mr. Green stood up. When he got to his feet, however, he was thrown into a wall and strangled. This continued until he again fell to the floor.
At the conclusion of the second struggle, Mr. Green found himself on the ground severely hemorrhaging from wounds to his head, back, and face. The violence left blood splattered all over the walls and floors of the house. Seeing her husband in agony, Mrs. Green again attempted to render assistance. When she moved towards her companion, however, a Defendant struck her on the right thigh.
Once the turmoil subsided, Mr. Green informed the Defendants that he was having difficulty breathing, and that he desperately needed an ambulance. A Defendant responded by cavalierly stating ‘good, die!’ Mrs. Green then attempted to call for medical assistance, but the Defendants issued her another stern warning: ‘step back bitch.’ On the threat of legal action, the Defendants finally relented, permitting Mrs. Green to call 911.
Green was eventually “rushed to a hospital,” where he was “treated for trauma to his head, neck, arms, shoulders, and legs.” He ultimately was required to be hospitalized for 23 days, and “the severity of his injuries spawned a criminal investigation by an Assistant State Attorney.”4
DAVID LEE DUVALL
In April 2013, City News Service reported that Daniel Lee Duvall had filed suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging “that Lipstick Bail Bonds Inc. and several other affiliated bail bond agents deprived him of his civil rights and are guilty of negligence, battery, false arrest, and breach of contract.” Duvall went through 101 Bail Bonds and American Surety to post a $100,000 bond, and he had intended to pay the $1,000 premium owed “when his friend received a financial settlement in an unrelated lawsuit, Duvall’s attorney, Dan Gilleon, said.” Then, in March 2013, Cathy Kessler, a bounty hunter with Lipstick Bail Bonds and 101 Bail Bonds, arranged to meet Duvall at an Arby’s “to handle some paperwork.” However, "Kessler, Roni Faciante and a few other women in pink shirts, including one toting a camera, tried to arrest Duvall.” In particular, Duvall “said he was blinded in his right eye and suffered a broken nose when pink-shirted bounty hunters tried to arrest him.”
According to his lawsuit, “Duvall reasonably believed he was under assault and about to be battered by three unidentified, unprofessional and agitated women and a cameraperson, three of whom were wearing bright pink shirts, and two pointing what appeared to Duvall to be handguns at him in a public place where other Arby’s patrons were also placed in immediate and severe danger. […] Despite the `keystone cops’ level of absurdity depicted in the video they created of themselves, the Lipstick defendants uploaded their epic failure to their youtube.com account, defaming Duvall and other innocent people in the process.” Gilleon, Duvall’s attorney, said that he “believes the women are angling for a reality television series” and that they “were hired because they would work ‘cheap’ and because they also worked for the bond company.” He added that his client “likely will need surgery on his right eye.”
Furthermore, “Duvall avoided the Lipstick bounty hunters for two weeks until he returned to court last Tuesday to get his bond exonerated and have another company post his bail money, according to the lawsuit.” However, roughly “five hours after a judge signed off on the new bail, the bounty hunters arrested Duvall again and 'surrendered' him to jail, where he was held for 16 hours before being released.” According to the lawsuit, “they arrested Duvall because they ‘continued to hold feelings of ill will toward Duvall, and wanted to arrest him anyway, to punish him and exact revenge, and to attempt to save face over their sensational, public, and epic incompetence and failures of the previous two weeks.’”
1 Journal and Courier, March 24, 2013
3 public.courts.in.gov, Case No. 29D05-1404-PL-003149