EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSIllegal Bonds Allow Criminals Back on Street in Boone County
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Sean DeLancey
Reported: Jul. 2, 2014 9:44 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 2, 2014 11:14 PM EDT
Madison , Boone County , West Virginia
An Eyewitness News exclusive investigation has revealed illegal bonding procedures in Boone County, allowing alleged criminals free from jail.
Chief Deputy Chad Barker, with the Boone Sheriff's Department, said the issue involves many people over several years.
People like David Griffy Sr., who was arrested in February 2014 for stealing a car.
"He has 14 separate felony convictions over the course of his adult life," Barker said about Griffy Sr.
His bond was set at $50,000 surety, and his mother, Edna Griffy, put up her property as bond to get him out of jail.
There was one big problem though: The property Edna used as bond wasn't even hers.
Griffy Sr. wound up in jail again five months later for allegedly stealing a state vehicle. Barker said he shouldn't have had the opportunity in the first place.
"If he shouldn't be out in the first place, I shouldn't have to send men and women out to arrest him and put their lives in jeopardy," Barker said.
Barker said this situation isn't unusual. Court documents indicate Edna has used another property to illegally post bond for four people in three counties all at the same time. Eyewitness News also uncovered Edna has a lien against her from Direct Merchant's Bank, making it illegal for her to use her property.
Edna said she is told by her family to show up to post bond, doesn't read the documents and just signs what they hand her.
"They tell me sign and I sign, and I don't read what I sign. That's bad," Edna said.
Boone County Prosecutor Keith Randolph said the problem originates with the state code.
"There is no requirement that anyone in the system take the next step and look and verify whether or not a bond encumberance has in fact occurred," Randolph said.
He said applicants for bond swear to the information they provide on an affidavit, including whether they have any liens. State Code section 62-1C-4 deals with bond issuance, but never clarifies if anyone has to check to make sure the information applicants provide on their affidavit are correct.
"On that document, they have to swear that they are telling the truth, and they do so under the penalty of false swearing," Randolph said,
Barker said that penalty hasn't been enough to stop people. On July 25, David Griffy Sr.'s brother, Darrell Griffy, was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree murder and two counts of malicious wounding.
The next day he walked free, released on bonds posted partially by, yet again, Edna Griffy.
Randolph said the fix would need to come from the state legislature to change state code to specify who has to check property for bonds.
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