The lengthy article largely backs up those claims, quoting former employees who claimed to have given tickets or other goodies to courthouse employees, jail administrators, someone in the Bexar DA's office, and even a local (unnamed) judge who allegedly gave out pre-signed "fugitive from justice bonds" to Saenz in exchange for a straight-up cash bribe. It's easy to dismiss that kind of allegation, except the former employee had in their possession one of the blank forms with the judge's signature on it. Oops! The judge declined to be interviewed and the paper didn't publish the jurist's name, so there's definitely more to be told about this story, though the Express-News has gotten off to an excellent start. The whole piece is well worth a read; Mr. MacCormack appears to have done his homework.
As a new operator in the rough-and-tumble Bexar County bail bond business, Albert Saenz quickly climbed to the top after opening his first modest office in 2003 on South Pan Am Expressway.
With a bond writing capability in Bexar County now of more than $32 million — almost twice that of its nearest competitor — his company, AA Best Bail Bonds, is the biggest in town. Saenz also operates nine regional offices spread from Del Rio to Karnes City.
Heavy advertising, aggressive price-cutting and a gambler's taste for risk all helped Saenz thrive in what one regulator called a “cutthroat, backstabbing” business.
He also has enjoyed less obvious advantages, according to many of his former employees.
In interviews with the San Antonio Express-News, a half-dozen of his ex-employees said Saenz gets critical breaks from a range of public officials in exchange for favors including free tickets, out-of-town trips and cash.
“The reason he got so big was because of his friends in the courthouse and jail,” said Alfred Flores, a manager who left at the end of 2006.
“While I was there, he used Spurs tickets, concert tickets, Dallas Cowboys tickets. He has season tickets to everything. Once he took three deputies to the Dallas Cowboys game when they were playing the Eagles,” he said.
“He was rewarding them. They send him bonds,” Flores said.
This all-too familiar Bexar County saga reminds me of a short essay I saw recently from the Pretrial Justice Institute on "Why Bail Reform Matters," which reminds us of the reasons why "The American Bar Association, the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies and the National District Attorneys Association have all called for the elimination of commercial bail bonding."