Bondsman loses appeal on forfeiture

$10,000 withheld months after defendant's violation

October 31, 2003|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Maryland's intermediate appellate court issued a strongly worded rebuke yesterday to a bail bondsman who challenged a Montgomery County court's authority to forfeit a bond months after a defendant failed to appear for a sentencing.

The fact that bondsman Nickolas Pantazes lost $10,000 as a result is only "peripheral" to the concept of bail bonds, which are, essentially, a contract between the state and defendants to ensure a court appearance, retired Court of Special Appeals Judge Charles E. Moylan Jr. wrote for the three-judge panel deciding the case.

Pantazes "presumes too much significance for the relatively peripheral role he plays. The hardest thing for him to grasp is that the case is not really about him," Moylan wrote.

Instead, Moylan said, the case was about Jose W. Orellana's conviction in Montgomery Circuit Court on child abuse and sexual offense charges - and his failure to show up for a sentencing July 10, 2001.

Pantazes "was simply Orellana's insurance agent, who took a calculated gamble on Orellana's appearance and lost," Moylan wrote.

The bondsman's appeal came out of the eight-month delay between the sentencing date and the forfeiture, according to the opinion.

In March last year, a Montgomery judge realized that although Orellana's bond had been revoked, it had not been forfeited. The judge issued the forfeiture and gave Pantazes 90 days to produce Orellana or lose the bond money.

In yesterday's decision, the Court of Special Appeals affirmed an earlier ruling that said a forfeiture delay did not negate the purpose of a bail bond.

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