ELYRIA — When John Davis failed to show up for his sentencing hearing on drug charges on June 12, 2013, prosecutors asked for his $200,000 bond to be revoked and forfeited.
Despite three court orders to that effect issued by Lorain County Common Pleas Judge Christopher Rothgery, the money has never been paid to the county. If paid, the funds would be evenly split between county Prosecutor Dennis Will’s office and the Ohio Highway Patrol, which arrested Davis in 2011.
On Friday, Allegheny Casualty Co., the surety company backing the bond, reached an agreement with Will’s office that bought the company more time to find Davis and avoid having to turn over the money.
The agreement required the company to immediately deposit the full $200,000 bond with county Clerk of Courts Ron Nabakowski’s office, although as of Monday only $100,000 had been turned over.
Under terms of the agreement, the money is supposed to be held through June 20, when it would be forfeited if the company fails to produce Davis. The order also gives the company until May 30 to file a request that would allow them to explain to Rothgery why they should receive some of the bond money back.
Attorney Joseph Cirigliano, who represents Allegheny, declined to comment on the case Monday, citing attorney-client privilege.
Will said that because the company can make an argument to reclaim some of the forfeited money if Davis is ever found, Allegheny and Access Bail Bonds, the bond company that posted the money, have an incentive to keep up the search for Davis.
“We still want this guy,” Will said.
Davis, 54, was pulled over by a trooper on March 15, 2011, on the Ohio Turnpike in a GMC Yukon that was travelling under the speed limit and had drifted over the edge line on the side of the road several times, according to court documents filed in the case.
After Davis was stopped, another trooper arrived at the scene with a drug-sniffing dog, which indicated the presence of drugs in the vehicle. A search turned up roughly 188 pounds of marijuana in boxes in the back of the Yukon.
Court records show Davis was ordered freed nine days after his arrest when the $200,000 bond was posted.
After Rothgery rejected a request to suppress evidence seized in the stop, Davis pleaded no contest on Feb. 20, 2013, to trafficking in marijuana, possession of marijuana and possession of criminal tools. Court records indicated that Davis was facing a mandatory prison sentence of eight years when he left the Lorain County Justice Center that day.
Jack Bradley, Davis’ attorney, said while he knew his client was ill and feared he wouldn’t live to see the end of his case, there was nothing to indicate that he wouldn’t appear for his sentencing. He said despite living in St. Petersburg, Fla., his client had always shown up for court in the past.
The last he heard from Davis, Bradley said, he was heading to Elyria for the sentencing hearing.
Prosecutors first sought to have the bond forfeited at a July 31 hearing, but that was continued at the request of Access and T-Bonds, a local bonding company that was working with Access on the case, according to court records.
No one appeared from either bonding company at an Oct. 2 hearing and Rothgery ordered the bond forfeited to the state.
The bond companies later tried to convince Rothgery to set aside the forfeiture order because they had missed the hearing due to a scheduling mix-up. The judge denied that request in a Nov. 8 order, when he again ordered the bond forfeited.
In December, Access’ attorney, Wayne Nicol, who did not return calls seeking comment, asked Rothgery to put the bond company on a payment plan to make good on the $200,000.
Assistant County Prosecutor Richard Gronsky objected, noting that “neither the state of Ohio nor the clerk of court nor this court have the time nor legal responsibility to monitor a forfeited bail ‘payment schedule.’”
On Jan. 14, Rothgery denied the request for a payment schedule and for the third time ordered that the forfeited bond be paid to Nabakowski’s office.
That order stood for two months until the agreement Friday.