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The Desert Sun
Riverside County bail agent charged with felonies for bail fraud scheme
By Christopher Damien, Palm Springs Desert Sun,
A prominent Riverside County bail bond agent was arrested and charged with 14 felony counts of perjury and preparing false records for a fraud scheme that allegedly cost the county's courts a half-million dollars.
Fausto Atilano, owner of Fausto's Bail Bonds, a Murrieta bail company with offices throughout Southern California, was arrested Friday and is in custody at the Cois M. Byrd Detention Center in Murrieta, jail records show.
The California Department of Insurance, which regulates California's bail bond industry, investigated Atilano, 60, regarding allegations he had prepared false evidence and falsified judicial records connected to forfeited bail bonds.
The department reported Friday that its investigation found Atilano had orchestrated a scheme in which he filed court documents claiming he had apprehended fugitives in Mexico in order to exonerate bonds that his business was required to pay the court for. The department claims he had collaborators in Mexico photograph people pretending to be the fugitives. The department stated that interviews with defendants later revealed they had never been located in Mexico.
The falsified documents, the department said, prevented Riverside County Superior Court from collecting more than $528,000 in bail bond payments. The Riverside County District Attorney's Office's motion to keep Atilano in jail until a hearing about whether he could pay bail without using money he had allegedly stolen was granted. He is due in court in July.
Christopher Damien covers public safety and the criminal justice system. He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him at @chris_a_damien.