Gwinnett sheriff settles bond company suit, allows business to reopen – Atlanta Journal Constitution

Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor has settled a lawsuit with a bonding company that accused him of shutting them down after attempting to extort the company as a candidate, according to the company’s lawyer.

Taylor was scheduled to testify in Gwinnett County Superior Court Monday morning. But the hearing in Anytime Bail Bonding’s lawsuit was cancelled when the two sides agreed on a settlement Sunday night, company attorney Bob Cheeley said.

The settlement allows the company to resume operations in Gwinnett but does not include monetary damages, according to Cheeley.

The reinstatement is retroactive to January — an acknowledgement that the company’s license should never have been revoked, Cheeley said.

A spokesperson for Taylor did not return calls or emails seeking comment.

Taylor, who was elected in November, shut down Anytime Bail Bonding along with other bond companies shortly after taking office. Taylor has said he had the discretion to decide what companies operated in the county.

But Scott Hall, one of the owners of Anytime Bail Bonding, contended his business was shut down after he forwarded security camera footage to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation of Taylor saying, “if folks don’t support me, I’m not gonna let them bond here.”

“The sheriff stepped in a big old mud puddle when he said that,” Cheeley said. “He’s not going to use those words again.”

The GBI’s investigation into Taylor’s “possible extortion attempt” was opened Sept. 14 and is ongoing, a spokesperson said.

In an April hearing in Gwinnett County Superior Court related to the lawsuit, Taylor said that the company was shut down after Hall misled him about the video.

Cheeley said he plans to dismiss a federal civil case that he brought against the sheriff. Mike Bowers, an attorney for two other bonding companies that were also shut down, said those cases are ongoing.

In one, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge David Sweat ruled in favor of Taylor’s motion for summary judgement; in another, a motion for summary judgement is pending.

Bowers said he expects the central question of the cases — to what degree can a sheriff exercise discretion? — to be decided in appeals.

“You can’t let elected officials just do as they please,” said Bowers, a former Georgia attorney general. “The question is, how much discretion does he have? There is no such thing that’s unlimited discretion.”

THE STORY SO FAR

Gwinnett County Sheriff Keybo Taylor is being investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for possible extortion after he was recorded saying “if folks don’t support me, I’m not gonna let them bond here” to an employee of Anytime Bail Bonding. That company forwarded the video to the GBI. Taylor canceled the ability of Anytime Bail Bonding — as well as other companies — to operate in the county. Several of the bonding companies sued. This week, Taylor settled with one company, allowing it to resume operations.