[PHOTO CREDITS: Lake County Sheriff’s Office]
[Original Publish Date: 01/12/20]
(Have news tips for LLN?… 352Tips@gmail.com.)
GROVELAND, Florida — By acting quickly, a local bail bondsman ended the hunt for a man who just cost him more than $180,000. And now he will get all his money back.
Phabien Vachon Wilson, 40, of Clermont was arrested on multiple drug charges, including trafficking in methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin nearly one year ago on Jan. 23, 2019. Paul Grimaldi, with A American Bonding in Groveland bonded him out a few months later on April 16, 2019. He failed to show up for court on Oct. 31, 2019 and a warrant was issued for his arrest. On Jan. 2, Grimaldi was required to pay the forfeiture on his bond — $182,050. Time was of the essence because after just 90 days, Grimaldi would have lost a portion of his money and after two years, he would have lost it all.
Whenever a bail bondsman is used to get a defendant out of jail, usually the obligor (co-signor) pays 10 percent of the bond amount as a fee for the bondsman — and that is only a fee, as the original obligor is still responsible for 100 percent of the bond amount if the defendant skips. For that fee, the bondsman guarantees the defendant will show up for court. “It’s the transfer of custody,” Grimaldi explained to Lake Legal News in a recent interview.
Often, the obligor is required to put up collateral to cover the bond, but sometimes the bondsman will allow the obligor to only sign a promissory note.
In Wilson’s case, his aunt signed a promissory note, because Wilson was a trusted client and Grimaldi expected Wilson would go to court, he said. “I’ve known the family for years,” he told LLN. “Did I make a mistake? Yes, but because of my long-term relationship with the family, I did it.” Grimaldi told LLN he planned to sue Wilson’s aunt to recover his money if he was unable to find him her nephew.
This is only the third or fourth forfeiture Grimaldi has paid in his 20-year career, he said, and by far the largest.
Skipping is out of character for Wilson, Grimaldi said, and Wilson was acting out of character in other ways too. “He’s really put his whole family aside, and that’s not like him,” Grimaldi said.
Last week, Clermont Police attempted to pull Wilson over and he fled and got away, Grimaldi noted. Clermont Police have a no-pursuit policy, Grimaldi explained. Wilson stayed in contact with Grimaldi, but had refused to turn himself in.
Wilson was still in the area; he was arrested by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, and booked at 3:23 a.m. Sunday according to his booking sheet on LCSO.org. Details were unavailable early Sunday morning. Grimaldi texted LLN shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday, “I caught him this morning.”
Grimaldi was able to obtain information on Wilson’s whereabouts and found him in a hotel in West Orlando around 1 a.m Sunday. He took him into custody without the help of law enforcement. “My regular boys who work with me (got him.)” They transported him to the Lake County Jail where he was booked just before 3:30 a.m. Now Grimaldi will file a motion with the court to get his money back.
Wilson is being held at the Lake County Jail without bond for failure to appear in court.
[You may also like our related article: https://www.lakelegalnews.com/article/the-nuts-and-bolts-of-the-bail-bond-business/ ]
Our Editor-in-Chief, Marilyn M. Aciego, began writing for Lake Legal News in 2010. Born and raised in Lake County, she is a graduate of Umatilla High School and Lake-Sumter State College. She started her journalism career at LSSC, where she was editor of both student publications, The Angler and The Odyssey. Her professional career began at the Daily Commercial in 2004 where she covered cops and courts the majority of her time there until she left in 2009. Currently, along with being Editor-in-Chief of Lake Legal News, she is the Florida bureau chief for an international media organization. She has made more than two dozen appearances on live national television, including Nancy Grace and the Greta Van Susteren show, along with her appearance on Evil Twins. Contact her with breaking news, tips, and feedback by sending an e-mail to 352Tips@gmail.com. You can also contact us on our Facebook page — and make sure you “Like” and “Follow us” there. [PHOTO CREDIT: Bonnie Whicher]