The head of a bail bonding company that was at the center of a dispute with the Gwinnett County sheriff has stepped down and the company will change its name, according to a settlement signed this week that will allow the business to keep operating in Gwinnett County.
Scott Hall, the CEO of Anytime Bail Bonding of Gwinnett, agreed to leave the company, which will henceforth be known as ABC Bail Bonds. He will remain involved in other Anytime Bail Bonding businesses outside of Gwinnett County.
The sheriff, Keybo Taylor, said he canceled the company’s ability to operate in the county in January because Hall was “engaged in deceptive practices.”
Hall initiated a Georgia Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Taylor after the bondsman sent the GBI a 25-second video clip of Taylor saying, “if folks don’t support me, I’m not gonna let them bond here.”
Taylor said Tuesday the tape was manipulated because it didn’t show the full conversation Taylor had with an employee in the Anytime Bail Bonding office — just a snippet. He could not say if his own words had been manipulated.
The GBI’s investigation is ongoing, but Taylor positioned the settlement as a win. He said he had done nothing wrong and knew that he would be vindicated.
“The attack on my character was personal and political in nature,” Taylor said. “I have zero tolerance for bullying tactics used by any companies that target our citizens.”
In an interview with Channel 2 Action News, Taylor said he had “absolutely no concerns” about the GBI investigation. But he said there were issues with bonding companies that still need to be worked out. He declined to elaborate on those issues.
“I’m satisfied with the settlement,” Taylor said Tuesday.
Bob Cheeley, an attorney for Anytime Bail Bonding, did not return a phone call or a text message Tuesday seeking comment about the terms of the settlement. But he said Monday that the company’s reinstatement was an acknowledgement that its license should not have been revoked.
The reinstatement means there will be five bonding companies operating in Gwinnett, half as many as when Taylor, a Democrat, took office in January. Two other companies that were shut down sued. Mike Bowers, an attorney for two of those shuttered companies, 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.
Taylor said the industry was in need of reform and touted the closures as a campaign success. Some of the businesses he targeted were in financial trouble, he said, while others didn’t follow the rules.
In the future, Taylor said, all bonding companies must meet his high standards.
At the new ABC Bail Bonds, employees other than Hall and former Director of Operations Paul Stewart will be allowed to keep their jobs. Neither will be able to work again in the bond business in the county, according to the settlement.
A lawsuit related to the matter will be dismissed with prejudice, the settlement said. No money will be paid by either party.
Cobb County Sheriff Craig Owens stood with Taylor Tuesday as he announced the settlement. Both newly elected sheriffs, Taylor said, had a vision for what their governments could be.
“It’s a higher standard than what we found our agencies in,” Taylor said.