BY Barb Stanton
The San Bernardino County District attorney’s Office has filed indictments against 15 people - including the son of former San Bernardino County top cop Floyd Tidwell.
His son, Daniel Tidwell, 53, and Daniels wife, Shirley Tidwell, 47, have been charged with two counts of conspiracy relating to unlawful solicitation of bail bonds and one count of unlawful solicitation of bail bonds - among other charges. The Tidwells are connected with three bail-bonds companies and accused of illegally soliciting bail-bond business at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga.
Added to the charges for Daniel Tidwell are indictments on two counts of possessing assault weapons, one count of receiving stolen property - a gun - and one count of grand theft of a firearm. Shirley Tidwell has been indicted on several counts relating to unlawful notary practices, filling false or forged documents and perjury.
Last week 15 defendants appeared in San Bernardino County Superior Court. All indicted on charges alleging participation in a scheme to corner the county’s market on bail bonds.
Three bail bond companies - Boone’s Bail Bond - Arzate Bail Bond - and Bail Hotline are accused of offering inmates cash kickbacks, three-way phone calls and lower bail premiums for their help in soliciting bond customers.
Weekly meetings were held by Tidwell and his employees to determine how they could utilized the inmates at West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga to solicit business for them, according to court documents.
The three bail bonds companies offered incentives like, three-way phone calls and lower bail premiums. The phone bills at Boone’s Bail Bonds were ranging around $15,000 per month while the scam was running unfettered, according to authorities. San Bernardino County District Attorneys are still trying to figure out how much money the bail-bonds companies raked in.
Steven Tidwell, another son of the former Sheriff and owner of Tidwell Bail Bonds, pleaded guilty in 2004 after being charged with unlawfully soliciting bail, in exchange for a lighter jail sentence. He testified against the other 11 defendants connected to the case.
The saga began unraveling in January 2004 when investigators raided the homes of the Tidwell brothers looking for evidence of the bail-bonds scheme. During the raids they found 24 guns reportedly given to them by their father.
Due to the involvement of former sheriff Tidwell - the Tidwell brothers - and the number of people involved -the case quickly garnered widespread attention.
Also charged in January 2004 - Attorney Geoffery Newman of Rancho Cucamonga, and Mike Steele, of Hesperia, a former sheriff’s deputy.
Floyd Tidwell was charged with several counts of concealing stolen property and accused of taking more than 500 guns from the Sheriff’s Department’s property room - all while serving San Bernardino County at the top cop. Tidwell struck a deal with prosecutors in exchange for cooperating with the investigation and helping retrieve some of the missing guns. Tidwell pled guilty to four felony counts of concealing stolen property.
When challenged about the delay in the case prosecutor Bill Lee recently commented that, “the case got stuck in the system.”
All 15 defendants appeared in San Bernardino Superior Court last week but arraignments were delayed until attorneys could be secured by some of them. All have been charged with two counts of conspiracy relating to unlawful solicitation of bail bonds and one count of unlawful solicitation of bail bonds. The Tidwells, Daniel and Shirley have the additional charges.
All the defendants are facing a maximum of three years in prison if convicted. Daniel’s could received sixteen months more for his additional charges.
In 2004 it was discovered through the bail bond scheme and the raid that the family had the weapons and that’s when former sheriff Floyd Tidwell came into play. Floyd Tidwell pleaded guilty to a reduced charge for cooperating with the investigation and for promising to return the missing weapons...unfortunately for the people of San Bernardino County Daddy Tidwell only produced about 89 of the missing weapons. Some former reports indicated that as much as 800 weapons were missing from the evidence room at the San Bernardino County Sheriffs station.
Tidwell bemoaned the fact that he served the county for more than 40 years under exemplar conditions and felt he should not be prosecuted for the ‘missing’ weapons. After promising to return the weapons the paltry amount that actually were returned is appalling. Tidwell said he gave the guns away to other officers - to his sons - added to his collection.
Daddy Tidwell said that his safety would be at risk if prosecutors pursed felony gun charges against him. “I’ve put a lot of people away,” Tidwell, then 74 said.
Tidwell served as sheriff from 1983 to 1991.
To this day more than 500 of the weapons are missing. Floyd Tidwell never did a day of jail time
even though he was unable or unwilling to produce the hundred’s of missing weapons.
Ultimately Daddy Tidwell agreed to a $10,000 fine, and prosecutors agreed to reduce the felony charges to misdemeanors if Daddy Tidwell cooperated with law enforcement in searching for the missing guns.
Daddy Tidwell cried, “I’m not guilty of anything, dang it - I’ve turned in every gun I had.” After being questioned about the whereabouts of the hundreds of missing weapons. He went on to say, “The others have either been destroyed or distributed, and I gave a list of those to the Sheriff’s Department, and they said they’d contact those people. What else can I do?”
Alleging that Daddy Tidwell stole the guns while he was in office, prosecutors said he was beefing up his private collections and handing out others as gifts to his friends and volunteer reserve deputies.
Daddy Tidwell wanted to remain well-armed, according to his attorney, David Call. Call stated that, “Tidwell knows you can’t keep firearms if you’re convicted of a felony. He wants to be able to protect himself and his family.”
Daddy Tidwell frightened of spending time in jail stated, “ How would you like to be Colonel Sanders and be put in the chicken coop?”
San Bernardino County Sheriff, Gary Penrod sent inner office memos asking any officers who may have received any of the weapons to return them - no questions asked...That didn’t work well - or the officers didn’t have the weapons as Tidwell indicated.
And the beat goes on...now almost four years later...and after much prodding the San Bernardino County District Attorneys Office has called the rest of the Tidwell clan into court to be held accountable for their alleged numerous illegal activities...
15 in the bail bond business indicted
More than a dozen people in the bail bond business, including Danial Tidwell, son of former San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, were indicted Friday on a host of charges, including perjury, falsifying documents and grand theft.
The 15 people involved worked for Boone's Bail Bond, Arzate Bail Bond and Bail Hotline, according to the San Bernardino County district attorney's office.
Eight employees of Boone's in Fontana were indicted, including owner Danial Tidwell, 53. He was indicted on two counts of possessing assault weapons, one count of receiving stolen property and one count of grand theft of a firearm. His wife, Shirley, 47, was indicted on a charge of filing false and forged documents and perjury.
Three Arzate employees were indicted for unlawful solicitation of bail bonds and four people from Bail Hotline were indicted on similar charges.
10:00 PM PST on Friday, December 14, 2007By JOHN F. BERRY and IMRAN GHORI
SAN BERNARDINO - More than a dozen people, including the son of former San Bernardino County Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, appeared in court Friday a week after they were indicted on charges involving the bail-bond industry.
Their arraignment was delayed until Feb. 22, when all 15 are scheduled appear in a downtown San Bernardino courtroom.
Most of the defendants indicted Dec. 6 by a special criminal grand jury were charged in January 2004 following a two-year district attorney investigation into illegal kickback schemes among bail-bond companies.
According to the indictments, the defendants were based in San Bernardino County and worked for Boone's Bail Bonds, Arzate Bail Bonds and the Bail Hotline. Most of their charges involve unlawful solicitation, conspiracy for unlawful solicitation and filing false or forged documents.
Danial Blayne "Boone" Tidwell, 53, appeared earlier Friday before Superior Court Judge Colin Bilash. Tidwell's wife, Shirley Tidwell, 47, appeared with the other defendants Friday afternoon. She declined to comment afterward.
John Barnett, attorney for Shirley Tidwell, said later that his client was not surprised by the indictment as the same allegations had been made in the criminal complaint.
"Our position is they committed no crimes and they'll be vindicated," Barnett said.
In court, Bilash told Shirley Tidwell that she could continue staying with her husband in Wyoming while the case winds through the courts.
"Do not miss anything," Bilash said. "If you're not in court, I will revoke your (release)."
Tidwell's other son, Steven Wayne Tidwell, 59, accepted a plea agreement in February 2004 and agreed to surrender his bail-bond license and testify for the prosecution.
Almost 30 people were charged in connection with the bail-bond investigation in 2004. More than a dozen eventually accepted plea agreements. Many of those who fought the charges were indicted last week.
Their cases remained stagnant in the courts after almost four years of delays during numerous courtroom appearances, and they never completed a preliminary hearing.
Deputy District Attorney Bill Lee, the third prosecutor on the bail-bond cases, said four years is an unusual amount of time to pass without a preliminary hearing.
"It was difficult due to the logistics of so many attorneys," Lee said.
In a preliminary hearing, a judge decides whether there is enough probable cause to send defendants to trial. Defendants, in open court, get a chance to cross-examine witnesses.
Grand juries are secret, but 12 of the 19 grand jurors are needed for indictments, Lee said.
Lee said he spent five days in late November and early December presenting his evidence before a grand jury specially empanelled to hear this case.
"This was a way of getting past the initial stumbling block, which is prelim," he said.
The indictments said almost three dozen witnesses appeared before the jurors.
Attorney Don Jordan criticized the district attorney's office for seeking indictments instead of waiting for a preliminary hearing. He said the defendants wanted to cross-examine their accusers.
"My opinion is that is an abuse," he said. "They had all this time. We were counting on having the advantage -- which is a big one -- of a preliminary hearing process in this complex case."
"The truth of the fact is the delays were not caused by the defense," Jordan said. "Several of the (prosecutors) had no interest in the case. They did nothing."
In June 2003, authorities executed 13 search warrants as part of the investigation. Fourteen weapons were found at Danial Tidwell's home in Phelan.
The haul included two rifles reported stolen from the Fontana Police Department in 1999, two machine-gun pistols banned under the California assault-weapons ban and a rifle and a shotgun belonging to the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.
The weapons were connected to former Sheriff Floyd Tidwell, who served from 1983 to 1991.
He was sentenced in November 2004 to three years three years unsupervised probation on four misdemeanor charges related to concealing those 14 weapons. He paid $10,000 in restitution.
Reach John F. Berry at 909-806-3058 or jberry@PE.com
A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.
Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she'd be out of a job.
"Don't plan on working back in Iraq. There won't be a position here, and there won't be a position in Houston," Jones says she was told.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court against Halliburton and its then-subsidiary KBR, Jones says she was held in the shipping container for at least 24 hours without food or water by KBR, which posted armed security guards outside her door, who would not let her leave.
"It felt like prison," says Jones, who told her story to ABC News as part of an upcoming "20/20" investigation. "I was upset; I was curled up in a ball on the bed; I just could not believe what had happened."
Finally, Jones says, she convinced a sympathetic guard to loan her a cell phone so she could call her father in Texas.
"I said, 'Dad, I've been raped. I don't know what to do. I'm in this container, and I'm not able to leave,'" she said. Her father called their congressman, Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas.
"We contacted the State Department first," Poe told ABCNews.com, "and told them of the urgency of rescuing an American citizen" - from her American employer.
Poe says his office contacted the State Department, which quickly dispatched agents from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to Jones' camp, where they rescued her from the container.
According to her lawsuit, Jones was raped by "several attackers who first drugged her, then repeatedly raped and injured her, both physically and emotionally."
Jones told ABCNews.com that an examination by Army doctors showed she had been raped "both vaginally and anally," but that the rape kit disappeared after it was handed over to KBR security officers.
A spokesperson for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security told ABCNews.com he could not comment on the matter.
Over two years later, the Justice Department has brought no criminal charges in the matter. In fact, ABC News could not confirm any federal agency was investigating the case.
Legal experts say Jones' alleged assailants will likely never face a judge and jury, due to an enormous loophole that has effectively left contractors in Iraq beyond the reach of United States law.
"It's very troubling," said Dean John Hutson of the Franklin Pierce Law Center. "The way the law presently stands, I would say that they don't have, at least in the criminal system, the opportunity for justice."
Congressman Poe says neither the departments of State nor Justice will give him answers on the status of the Jones investigation.
Asked what reasons the departments gave for the apparent slowness of the probes, Poe sounded frustrated.
"There are several, I think, their excuses, why the perpetrators haven't been prosecuted," Poe told ABC News. "But I think it is the responsibility of our government, the Justice Department and the State Department, when crimes occur against American citizens overseas in Iraq, contractors that are paid by the American public, that we pursue the criminal cases as best as we possibly can and that people are prosecuted."
Since no criminal charges have been filed, the only other option, according to Hutson, is the civil system, which is the approach that Jones is trying now. But Jones' former employer doesn't want this case to see the inside of a civil courtroom.
KBR has moved for Jones' claim to be heard in private arbitration, instead of a public courtroom. It says her employment contract requires it.
In arbitration, there is no public record nor transcript of the proceedings, meaning that Jones' claims would not be heard before a judge and jury. Rather, a private arbitrator hired by the corporation would decide Jones' case. In recent testimony before Congress, employment lawyer Cathy Ventrell-Monsees said that Halliburton won more than 80 percent of arbitration proceedings brought against it.
In his interview with ABC News, Rep. Poe said he sided with Jones.
"Air things out in a public forum of a courtroom," said Rep. Poe. "That's why we have courts in the United States."
In her lawsuit, Jones' lawyer, Todd Kelly, says KBR and Halliburton created a "boys will be boys" atmosphere at the company barracks which put her and other female employees at great risk.
"I think that men who are there believe that they live without laws," said Kelly. "The last thing she should have expected was for her own people to turn on her."
Halliburton, which has since divested itself of KBR, says it "is improperly named" in the suit.
In a statement, KBR said it was "instructed to cease" its own investigation by U.S. government authorities "because they were assuming sole responsibility for the criminal investigations."
"The safety and security of all employees remains KBR's top priority," it said in a statement. "Our commitment in this regard is unwavering."
Since the attacks, Jones has started a nonprofit foundation called the Jamie Leigh Foundation, which is dedicated to helping victims who were raped or sexually assaulted overseas while working for government contractors or other corporations.
"I want other women to know that it's not their fault," said Jones. "They can go against corporations that have treated them this way." Jones said that any proceeds from the civil suit will go to her foundation.
"There needs to be a voice out there that really pushed for change," she said. "I'd like to be that voice."