Monday, December 20, 2010
A local bail bondsman is speaking out about her conviction and sentence for a bribery scheme. Jessie Garland was ordered to serve a year in a federal penitentiary and pay the city of Wichita over $150,000 in restitution. Garland wants to make sure people know she didn't steal any money.
Garland hopes to set the record straight about her predicament. She says she's accepting full responsibility for what she did, but she wants people to know that she and her co-defendants did not steal any money from the city.
"Basically, I'm the one really at a big loss because each one of those clients on that list that failed to go to court, they actually owe me all of that money," Garland explained as she sat down with us Monday.
Garland was convicted of conspiracy and ordered to pay the city of Wichita $163,000. As she bonded people out of jail, she asked Municipal Court Officer Katie Pottorff to erase the records from the books. That meant that sometimes the arrestees would walk.
"She [Pottorff] did do me a few favors," Garland said. "My father passed away, so for a few months I was out of town because he passed away with cancer. The time I was there, I wasn't here to be able to go chase people and then my grandson passed away."
With a criminal past herself, Garland got into the bonding business so she could help people try to turn themselves around.
"I have so much money people owe me, I could sit here all day and try to collect, but if you don't have it you don't have it," Garland said. "It's easier to just forgive the debt than chase it. I didn't feel like chasing it."
Garland was also the only one of three people involved in the scheme to get a prison term. Pottorff got probation and is ordered to pay the city $470,000. Alicia Bell was also sentenced to probation.
"I have to answer for what I've done. What I did was wrong," Garland explained. "I'm not mad at the judge. It's my fault. I have to answer for the things I've done."
Garland will begin serving her prison term sometime next month either in a federal penitentiary in Texas or Illinois.