Two sons of former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell involved

Nineteen charged in bail bonds investigation

Two sons of former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell involved

By JAMES RAMAGE/Staff Writer

VICTORVILLE — Two sons of former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell were among 19 county bail agents and others charged Thursday by the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office for extortion, solicitation of bail by jail inmates and insurance code violations.

Charges were filed against bail agents, notaries public, an attorney and several inmates, according to the San Bernardino County District Attorney's Office.

The charges follow two years of in-depth investigation by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department and the California Department of Insurance into county bail agents' businesses, the District Attorney's office said.

The investigation followed complaints by competing bail agents and inmates claiming they were pressured into hiring certain bail businesses, said Deputy District Attorney Cheryl Kersey of the Major Crimes Unit.

Those charged were affiliated with Boone's Bail Bonds and Tidwell's Bail Bonds in Fontana, West Valley Bail Bonds in Ontario and Jerry Brandt Bail Bonds in Highland, sheriff's officials said.

Former sheriff's deputy Daniel Tidwell of Phelan was also charged with possessing two assault weapons plus stealing a shotgun and a rifle while serving as a deputy, in addition to the charges of illegal business practices, Kersey said.

Tidwell's brother, bail agent Steve Tidwell of San Bernardino, was also charged, Kersey said.

Notary Public Shirley Tidwell of Phelan has been accused of certifying documents without having witnessed them, contrary to the requirements of her office, Kersey said.

Conspiracy to solicit bail by inmates and bail agents is a violation of the California Insurance Code, according to the District Attorney's Office.

The District Attorney's Office also accused Rancho Cucamonga attorney Geoffrey Newman of paying bail agents and inmates to solicit clients for him — collectively described as solicitation of a crime and attorney capping charges — Kersey said.

"It's something that needed to be looked into," Kersey said.

Seven of the 19 charged were sent letters to appear for arraignment on Feb. 18, the District Attorney's Office reported, while the other 12 had warrants issued for their arrest.

Further charges may be filed against other individuals and bail businesses during the ongoing investigation, Kersey said.

James Ramage can be reached at james_ramage@link.freedom.com or 951-6242.

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