Valley man says bail bondsman locked up his money

State regulators require refund within five days

PHOENIX - None of us ever want to get the call that a loved one is behind bars.

But when Steve Pavlica of Phoenix got that call about his niece, he turned to a bail bondsman for help securing her release.

He says he found Better Bail Bonds of Phoenix on the internet. After signing a contract, he paid $10,000 as collateral.

"They did their work excellent. I mean the next morning she was out," said Steve.

The contract says the company would return the $10,000 "up to 30 days" after the case was settled.

A couple weeks later when the charges were dropped, he tried to collect, but he says couldn't get anyone to call him back.

"I started making calls on a daily basis. I never got through to the person that I needed to talk to," said Steve.

Steve says he tried for weeks, before he let me know about it.

We did get through to the folks at Better Bail Bonds.

They would not talk about Steve's case, but they did finally set up an appointment to meet with him.

It didn't go as planned.

"They couldn't find the file," said Steve. "Then they found the file, and then she said, 'I don't have the money to pay you.' I said that's not acceptable. You agreed a few days ago that you were going to return the money to me."

The Arizona Department of Insurance regulates the bail bonds industry.

According to its guidelines "the reasonable return of the collateral within no more than five calendar days after the exoneration of the bond."

Steve says the company rep asked if they could pay him through installments.

"I said well I couldn't make payments to you!" said Steve.

Eventually he agreed, but he insisted they give him written proof of their intent to pay.

"It was notarized. And with exactly which days I would be paid, until it was paid in full."

Steve got his final payment a few days ago--nearly 3 months after he expected it.

It's great he was able to finally get his money back.

But just like any industry, bail bondsmen have rules too.

You can file a complaint with the Arizona Department of Insurance if you think the bondsman you are dealing with is breaking your agreement.

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