Case against bond agents continued

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A Moffat County case charging three out-of-town bond agents with felony trespassing was postponed Monday when counsel for the three defendants asked for a continuance.

Michael Coleman, Michael Armstrong and Clara Goins were scheduled to enter a plea in district court Monday. Their arraignments have been rescheduled for Oct. 9.

The three face misdemeanor charges of impersonating a peace officer and third-degree assault in addition to the trespassing charges.

The bond agents work for Action Jackson Bail Bonds. Goins and Coleman work out of Denver and Armstrong is from Grand Junction. The trio came to Craig in February in search of a fugitive from Grand Junction who vanished after contracting with Action Jackson to post his $35,000 bond in Mesa County.

The suspect, who is accused of rape, also has an active warrant in Moffat County for criminal impersonation and driving under restraint.

The agents are alleged to have forced their way into a home in Craig in an attempt to apprehend the suspect. According to court documents, they flashed badges and told the home's occupants "we are the law."

Goins said she and her associates "did everything by the book."

Goins said all of her agents carry badges that identify them as bond agents. She said she has brought in more than 3,000 fugitives in her career and never has had problems such as the one she encountered in Moffat County.

Goins said she and her agents came to Craig and went straight to the Public Safety Center to inform the local law enforcement of their intentions. She said she told them she had information from a reliable source that the suspect was at a residence in Shadow Mountain.

Goins thought it odd that local law enforcement officers did not accompany her and her associates to the scene.

"Normally, they send an officer out with us," Goins said. "That's how they operate in Jefferson County."

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Waite said the agents contacted law enforcement officers but didn't wait for them. The agents just helped themselves, Waite said.

But Goins claims law enforcement officers in Craig seemed not to be concerned with the suspect, who, Goins said, is a dangerous fugitive wanted on charges of drugging and raping a 14-year-old in Grand Junction. She said the suspect missed his court date, and left Action Jackson owing $35,000 in his absence.

Goins claims the fugitive left Grand Junction shortly after an article appeared in the Grand Junction Sentinel, which reported that semen found on a 14-year-old rape victim showed a DNA match with the suspect.

When Goins and her associates came to Craig, they visited the home of Roberto Rodriguez in search of the suspect. Goins said she sat outside in her pickup while Michael Armstrong approached the house. Meanwhile, Coleman waited by the back door of the trailer should the sought-after fugitive attempt an escape. Goins called the residence to announce her presence and explain that the bond agents had come to apprehend the suspect.

According to Goins, Gloria Rodriguez invited Coleman into the house to see for himself that the suspect was not in the trailer. When he entered, Goins said the lights in the trailer went out, and that's when she and Armstrong stormed the trailer to protect Coleman.

Goins said the affidavit in the case leaves out these important facts, including her statement that a sheriff's deputy had seen proof on her cell phone's recent call list that she phoned the residence before taking any action.

While the affidavit does not allude to much of Goins' story, it does establish Rodriguez' claims that they were assaulted by bond agents who forcefully entered their home; claimed to be "the law;" assaulted Bobby Rodriguez with a "choke hold;" hit Maria Rodriguez in the face, causing her lip to bleed; and refused to let the family use the telephone.

After Moffat County Sheriff's deputies settled the situation and talked with the involved parties, they turned the case over to the District Attorney's office "for charge consideration due to conflicting stories."

Waite said the bond agents overstepped their rights, which he said grant them no more privileges than any citizen.

Goins claims Waite is making an example of her and her

colleagues.

The suspect was not apprehended that night and he has not yet been brought to justice but Goins said she and her colleagues are still "hot on his trail."

It is the policy of the Craig Daily Press not to identify those charged in sex crimes until convicted.

Jeremy Browning can be reached at 824-7031 or jbrowning@craigdailypress.com.

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