Money Bail

Pro-Bail-Reform Website Profiles Rogue Bail Bondsmen and Bounty Hunters

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

As California lawmakers and state officials move toward reforming the cash bail industry via SB 10, a statewide coalition of social justice, labor, business, and faith-based organizations, called Bail Reform California, has launched a website training a spotlight on corruption and other abuses by agents of the bail industry–an industry which purports to defend public safety.

The site,, profiles badly behaving bail bondsmen and largely unregulated bounty hunters in California, including Shawn Allen “Frosty” Rapoza, the former owner of Sacramento’s Ace Deuce Bail Bonds, who posted a pretrial defendant’s bail. Rapoza allegedly accepted stolen assault weapons as payment from his client. The bail bondsman was charged with two counts of possession and two counts of transportation of assault weapons, and with possessing firearms with a prior felony conviction. When police searched the company and Rapoza’s house, they found a dozen weapons and a meth stash.

And then there is Lipstick Bail Bonds, but we’ll get back to them in a minute.

Nationally, rapidly expanding jail populations can be attributed, in part, to a growing reliance on pre-trial detention, according to a May 2017 report from the non-profit Prison Policy Initiative.

In California and across the nation, cash bail has a disproportionately negative impact on poor and minority Americans. The system allows wealthy defendants to go free while indigent defendants who can’t afford bail remain behind bars awaiting trial.

In LA, nearly half of the county’s jail inmates are being held while they await trial—usually because of an inability to post bail.

And between May 2016 and May 2017, defendants in LA County paid approximately $173 million in non-refundable cash to bail bondsmen, and $13.6 million directly to the courts, according to a report commissioned by CA Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye. In December 2017, a report from UCLA’s Million Dollar Hoods research team revealed that between 2012 and 2016, $19.4 billion in cash bail was levied against people arrested by the LAPD. Homeless people in the City of LA were hit with a total of just under $4 billion in bail.

In San Francisco, residents pay $15 million in non-refundable bail fees each year—$9 million of which comes from families of color.

And in San Joaquin County, in 5 months during 2016, just under 200 people paid bondsmen to gain their freedom in cases where charges were ultimately dropped, according to Bail Reform California.

The state’s proposed bail reform bill, SB 10, aims to ensure that no one gets stuck behind bars while awaiting trial just because they cannot afford to post bail. The bill would require courts to employ pretrial risk assessment to help judges determine whether a person poses a public safety or flight risk. It would also require counties to employ pretrial services that, among other things, help defendants make their court appearances.

The bill has faced heavy opposition from lobbying bail bondsmen and the insurance companies that back the bondsmen—and even Duane Chapman, better known as “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”

“For far too long, California’s broken money bail system has enabled a bail industry and bail bondsmen and bounty hunters that play by their own rules and mistreat Californians all in pursuit of a buck,” said Natasha Minsker, the ACLU of California Center for Advocacy & Policy director and member of the Bail Reform California coalition. “It’s time to shine a light on California’s broken money bail system. These profiles of abuse make clear that the status quo is not working and is not keeping us safe.”

The website tells the story of two sisters, who operate their bail company, Lipstick Bail Bonds, in nine Southern California counties, and who have been particularly vocal in their fight to protect the bail industry. According to the website, Teresa Lynn Golt and Lisa Louise Golt were drummed out of the LAPD, and were charged with using their status as police officers for personal financial gain. The Golts were charged with felonies for issuing “bail without a license and illegally accessed confidential information from law enforcement computers,” according to the LA Times.

The LAPD fired Lisa in 1999 for operating the bail company as an off-duty police officer, as well as for pepper spraying someone while off-duty, the LA Times reported in 2000. Her sister, Teresa, was one of two officers named in a civil rights lawsuit alleging that police misconduct led to the death of an 81-year-old Korean immigrant.

Through Lipstick Bail Bonds, the Golt sisters have worked “to cover the ugliness of California’s broken money bail system with pink lipstick, pink pepper spray, and pink stun guns,” according to

In 2013, the duo burst into a Huntington Beach Arby’s to arrest a man, pepper spraying him, and shooting him with a Taser and rubber bullets.

“Despite an obligation to follow the law, public records are rife with examples of bail bondsmen and bounty hunters openly flouting it,” the website states. “It’s common for them to forcibly enter homes, harass innocent residents, impersonate law enforcement personnel, and threaten people with guns and Tasers.” also details some particularly troubling stories of “fugitive recovery” in California. One bail executive, Fausto Atilano, Jr. and/or his employees have broken into their targets’ homes (and, one time, broken into the wrong home), pointed firearms at innocent people, and shocked a mayor’s daughter with a Taser.

“These alleged instances show bail bondsmen like Atilano serve no public safety function under California’s current, broken, “money bail” system,” according to Bail Reform California. “To the contrary, it would seem that the bondsmen and bounty hunters associated with Fausto’s Bail Bonds seem to leave a long trail of traumatized residents and broken down front doors in their wake, all in pursuit of their bottom line.”


  • Knowing what I know today, I support bail reform. I know many individuals, that were and are good people, with good credit history, own houses, retirement accounts, and did not even have a parking ticket. Some of those people made the mistake of applying for a job as a deputy sheriff, and one day while enforcing the law they were paid to do, a malicious allegation of misconduct was made.

    The sheriff saw this as an opportunity to increase his political fame as a “police reformer”. The sheriff ordered his ICIB crooked investigators to make a case, using the lying witnesses and twisting facts to make it look like if the deputies committed a crime. The sheriff then went and spoke to the DA his friend Jackie, and they conspired and agreed to file a criminal case against the deputies.

    The deputies later got arrested and booked into the county jail, where they had two choices, to stay in jail, or make bail. Luckily the deputies had good credit, a house, and retirement accounts that could back up the bail, coupled with the fact they were not criminals, only after making the mistake of joining the sheriff’s department.

    Those deputies are not going anywhere, in fact, the rumor is that some actually took their lives. I hope it is not true, because there is so much out there other than a job in law enforcement, where “Justice” is just a nice idea.

    So definitely, some people, should not be forced into the county jail or forced to spend money in making bail. They will need the money for a good attorney and to survive while they defend themselves against the sheriff’s framing.

  • Completely Polemic editorial citing micro-examples (and more egregious ones at that), while ignoring the overall benefit the bail system provides to the State of California, and the public at large. Police and Probation departments statewide are swamped with over-flowing case files and insufficient resources to pursue fugitives outside of the bail system–imagine what 10’s of thousands more fugitives added to their plates would look like. The bail system provides a community platform (those friends and family members immediately around a defendant) by way of indemnification, and a professional platform, by way of liability protection on the part of the bail company, that works to ensure that these defendants return to court to face their accusers and get their fair shake. And while we can look at protecting the rights of these individuals, we must also not forget the victims of the crimes associated with these defendants, and the protection that a watchful, and mindful, bail system provides. Much like we can cite examples of corruption in ANY system (judicial, police, and, to be sure, bail), there are also many times more examples of these systems working well to keep the wheels of justice, for all, turning…

  • You’re posting on the wrong site. WLA cares nothing about the victims of crime, nothing. Their track history shows that very clearly. They care about juvenile criminals, suicidal inmates, death row prisoners, people in county jail, gang bangers and their families but you don’t see stories about “crime victims” here. No they don’t deserve justice and certainly cops don’t only their alleged victims.

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