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Court hearing delayed for former bail bondsman accused of inappropriately using funds

Crime Watch

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Ryan James Smith | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — A preliminary hearing for a former bail bondsman accused of inappropriately using funds has been delayed until Oct. 18.

The Idaho Attorney General’s Office says Ryan James Smith, 51, failed to pay back the funds given to him by two clients when he owned Atlas Bail Bonds. The company closed its doors in 2016 after Smith surrendered his bail agent license. The Idaho Department of Insurance accused him of breaching his financial duties due to irresponsibility and forced Smith pay a $6,000 fine.

According to court documents, the Attorney General’s Office opened a criminal investigation in January into Smith’s handling of bail money belonging to Michael Brazil and Francisco Lopez.

In 2014, Brazil’s father used a credit card to pay his son’s $10,000 bond and $1,090 in a premium and fees to Smith. In 2015, Brazil’s bond was exonerated, meaning it should be paid back to the offender. However, Brazil did not receive the money and said Smith ignored his continuous calls, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

RELATED: Local bail bondsman stripped of license and fined for failing to return money

Over the time Smith was supposed to hold on to Brazil’s bail money, investigators say he transferred some of the funds to his personal account and some to Atlas Bail Bonds. When it was time for Smith to return the $10,00 to his client, he did not have the funds to pay it back, charging documents detail.

A similar story unfolded in 2015 when Sara Lopez paid $5,000 to Smith for Francisco Lopez’s release. Investigators say Sara Lopez filed a complaint when Smith did not return the $5,000 at the exoneration of Francisco Lopez’s bail. She also told investigators she left dozens of messages on Smith’s voicemail with no avail.

Smith admitted violating state laws in 2016 and Lopez received the $5,000 – 243 days after the exoneration.

“Smith admitted that not everything went into the collateral account to other accounts and then used the money for personal use,” the investigator writes in his report. “However, he said he was not aware he could not use money from the collateral account for personal use.”

Smith is charged with two felony counts of use of fiduciary funds for personal use. If convicted on both counts, he could spend up to 10 years in prison.

His next court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 18.

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