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Couple, brother arrested on conspiracy charges

Former bail bondsman, wife deny wrongdoing
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Editor
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A man, his wife and his brother are charged with conspiracy and violating insurance code in regard to a bail bond business recently opened in Auburn. Donald Thomas Malone, 62, and his wife, Martha Barragan Malone denied any wrongdoing after they were arrested Monday and booked into Placer County Jail on charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, felony violation of insurance code, and felony possession of a controlled substance. They were released on bail Tuesday. Brian Everett Malone, 58, Donald’s brother, was already a Placer County Jail inmate on an identify theft charge and was re-arrested and charged with violating an insurance code and conspiracy to commit a felony in addition to his other charges. Martha Barragan Malone recently opened a new bond company in Auburn called Turn Key Bail Bonds, located off Hoffman Avenue. Barragan Malone said Wednesday she completed her bail bonds license as of September 2011 and the business has completed eight bonds since February. Her husband, Donald Malone, also works at the business, but had his bail bond license revoked after he pled guilty in 2006 to possession of stolen mail. The plea came after a 2004 federal indictment that Malone conspired to possess stolen mail, exchange a stolen U.S. Treasury check worth about $3.8 million and other charges. Donald Malone said he served 14 months at Taft federal prison camp outside of Bakersfield. Detective Jim Hudson with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office said late last week jail staff noticed a flyer for Turn Key Bail Bonds slipped into a glass case inside the jail’s holding tank displaying approved bail bonds companies inmates can call. Hudson said Turn Key was not on the jail’s approved list. “We ran the phone number and saw a very large number of calls to them,” Hudson said. “In monitoring some of those calls, inmates were being pressured or pushed by one of the inmates in the jail to call Turn Key.” Hudson said Brian Malone was the inmate allegedly pressuring other inmates to call Turn Key. The detective added that it is against the law for any bail bond agent or anybody in a jail facility or court facility to solicit for bail bonds. Donald Malone said his brother was not bribed to have inmates call Turn Key. He said his brother did refer two inmates out of the eight bonds Turn Key has completed since February but did not pressure them. “The rest were from ads in the Yellow Pages or word of mouth,” Donald Malone said. Hudson said the Malones allegeldy violated insurance code by “conducting business at a non-regulatory price.” He said Turn Key allowed down payments well below the 10 percent industry standard. The Malones denied that charge. Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant at the Malone’s business on Hoffman Avenue and obtained documents and computer information. Hudson said deputies also found a “usable amount of methamphetamine.” The Malones also denied the drug charge. “They didn’t show me the drugs,” Donald Malone said. “I had no idea about the drugs.” Hudson said the three were arrested on 1814 of the insurance code, which is an umbrella code for any violation of insurance code. “We routinely get complaints regarding the bail industry,” Hudson said. “There’s a lot of regulation within the bail industry violated on a regular basis. This is probably one of the more severe ones.” Barragan Malone said Wednesday outside of the couple’s business, which also doubles as their home, that they’ve done nothing wrong. She said Donald Malone was answering phones just as a secretary would but she was the one to sign off on bonds. “This takes our livelihood away,” Barragan Malone said. “My good name is ruined in this community because of this. I’ve done everything right my whole life. I’m 51. Neither of us deserves this.” Reach Jenifer Gee at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia.com or follow her on Twitter @AJ_Editor.