Embrey Continues to Work Hard in the Bail Bond Business for the Past 40 Years
San Antonio, Texas
If you have been busted by the law and need a bail bond to get out of jail, call Bruce. Bruce Embrey was selling Hong Kong sport shirts when he went into the San Antonio bail bond business 40 years ago. “I never made much money selling those shirts,” Embrey said. “I peddled them by phone and to my friends, and after working for a short time for a bail bondsman, I decided to go at it on my own.” Embrey, 65, is now recognized as the architect of a bail bond empire which covers San Antonio and a big hunk of South and South-Central Texas, and, with younger son Dane, he plans to expand his A-Action Bail Bonds offices in towns and cities across the rest of the state.
Over the years, Bruce Embrey estimates that his bail bonds operation has handled some 300,000 clients. “We have a full time bounty hunter out in the field,” Dane Embrey said. “He is a former big salary law enforcement officer who holds a state private investigator license, and he is authorized to make arrests when the need arises.”
The bondsman’s nightmare is the big bail skipper who disappears into hiding and is never caught, resulting in the ultimate forfeiture and an out-of-pocket penalty the bondsman would have to pay the county. “These are pretty rare,” Bruce Embrey said. “But they do happen. We had one guy skip to Canada. We know where he is, but we couldn’t get him extradited. And that one cost us forty grand.”
“Another large bond skipped to Costa Rica, and Clay was successful in getting him located, arrested, and extradited, “Bruce Embrey proudly explained. Embrey said co-signers are required on most bonds, and the relative, boyfriend, girlfriend or just friend who puts his or her name on the dotted line guaranteeing the bond is often the one who is instrumental in getting a slacker into court. “Most of our delinquents are not people who have actually gone undercover and tried to hide from us,” Dane Embrey explained. “They are just goof offs and slackers who fail to meet a court date for one reason or another.”
The Embreys pay bounties for information leading to the arrests of these court no-show laggards, and the snitches who turn them in are often disgruntled boyfriends, girlfriends, ex-wives, and former school-mates. “We pay cash bounties, and everything is strictly confidential,” Dane Embrey said. “The person who is arrested will never know who turned him in to us. If we didn’t guard the confidentiality of our sources, we wouldn’t be doing this very long.
Money talks loudly. If some guy sees a chance to snitch off an old school-mate and we pay a hundred, three hundred, maybe five hundred, that’s tough to pass up if he is hard up for money.”
Advanced technology is making the bail bounty hunting business easier by the year. “We are finding more and more ways to find these people,” Dane Embrey said. “We use computers to run credit checks and contact other jails they might be in. We even use Facebook, and I’ll give you a prime example of how this worked out.” “We had this bond jumper who was using a bunch of different aliases, and after we ran his picture in the Thrifty Nickel we got a hit from a woman who said she saw this character on Facebook. The Facebook image showed two people in the foreground, but you could clearly see our defendant walking by in the background.
There was a trampoline, a barbecue pit, a big oak tree, and a water tower with a yellow stripe around it. So we go driving around looking for that water tower. We alert law enforcement with helicopters, and we solicit help from the U.S. Marshals who located the water tower in a little bitty town outside of McAllen. “Now we get on Google Earth, and we see the water tower, the trampoline, the barbecue pit and the big oak tree. The computer then narrows the scene down to two houses. Marshals staked out the houses, and when our bond jumper finally walked out of one house, they busted him. It turned out that he was wanted for drugs and a bunch of other stuff we didn’t even know about.”
Dane says the bonding procedure is fairly simple. “We get 10 percent of the bond,” he said. “A magistrates sets the bond on your friend, let’s say for $100,000. You call us. Sure we can get your friend out of jail. You bring us $10,000 and be willing to co-sign the bond. Sometimes we even do credit plans where we finance the deal. The 10 percent is non-refundable. That’s ours. Now let’s say the defendant fails to show in court. We immediately get in touch with the co-signer, explaining that we might be facing a $100,000 forfeiture if we can’t get this character into court. This usually works, because the co-signer quickly gets in gear and helps get the defendant into court. These cases are almost always resolved in this way.” A-Action Bail Bonds now maintains out-of-town offices with an agent in each one of the following cities and towns: Victoria, Columbus, Uvalde, Pearsall, Del Rio, Cotulla, Jourdanton, Frio, Llano, Burnet, Blanco, Rocksprings, Sonora, Medina, Hondo, Bracketville, and Lubbock in West Texas. ”We want to completely cover Texas,” Dane said. “And I see no reason why we can’t do it.”
Although he has contemplated retiring and leaving the business with Dane and other family members, Bruce said: “I have thought of retiring but there doesn’t seem to be any time for it. As long as people keep getting in trouble, I guess there will always be a need for us.”