Quantcast
Connect with us

Oklahoma collections firm is making sheriffs rich by sending poor people to jail

Published

on

A woman in handcuffs after being arrested (Shutterstock.com)

An Oklahoma court fees collection agency is jacking up debtors’ fees by an additional 30 percent, then working in concert with law enforcement to jail people who can’t pay.

According to The Daily Beast, every sheriff’s department in the state is affiliated with collection agency Aberdeen Enterprizes [sic] II and sheriffs are getting rich by jailing the poor, creating a situation that amounts to a “modern day debtors prison.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Ira Wilkins is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the Oklahoma Sheriff’s Association, which The Daily Beast’s Kelly Weil said netted more than $800,000 in 2015 from Aberdeen Enterprizes II.

“These plaintiffs are victims of an extortion scheme in which the Defendants have conspired to extract as much money as possible from indigent people through a pattern of illegal and unconscionable behavior,” says the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court last week.

The suit examines the case of a homeless man who was arrested on New Year’s Eve 2016 on charges of retail larceny and trespassing. The man — who is disabled — was unable to come up with the $150 necessary to bond out of jail.

“When he pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, he was slapped with $425 in fines and fees, plus $385 in ‘hidden costs.’ The sum came out to over $800 — more than the man’s monthly disability earnings. Then the man’s money troubles got worse. His case was handed to Aberdeen, which increases all debts by 30 percent,” wrote Weill.

The man was given a notice to sign — not from the court or an attorney, but from the sheriff’s department — notifying him of his “debt” to Aberdeen.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Failure to pay” was the fourth most common cause of arrest in Oklahoma in 2016, leading to the arrest of 1,163 Oklahomans going to jail for money owed. The state currently has more than 45,000 open warrants on “failure to pay” charges.

Aberdeen was founded by former bankruptcy attorney Jim Shofner. Shofner was disbarred after pleading guilty in 2001 to helping a client hide more than $100,000 from the IRS.

Shofner spent two years in prison, then founded Aberdeen three years after his release. He now claims to be retired from the company now and has no knowledge of the lawsuit.

ADVERTISEMENT

“They’ve privatized the process of warrants being issued or recalled. They have given Aberdeen the authority to control that,” said the lawsuit’s lead attorney Daniel Smolen. “They have a private incentive to extort as much as they can out of the indigent through threats and intimidation.”

Read the full report here.

ADVERTISEMENT


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

WATCH: Bob Woodward grilled on HBO about Trump supporters being disconnected from reality on COVID

Published

on

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward was taken to task for failing to warn Americans that Donald Trump's public statements on coronavirus were the exact opposite of what he actually believed.

Axios reporter Jonathan Swan interviewed Woodwood on "Axios on HBO" for an episode that aired on Monday.

Swan noted Woodward recorded Trump admitting that COVID was dangerous on March 19th, but instead of immediately warning America by publishing the bombshell, he saved it for his book Rage -- which was published on September 15th.

Woodward claimed that the world already knew the facts on coronavirus by the 19th of March, but Swan pushed back and pointed out that many of Trump's supporters ignore reality and instead trust Trump -- even when his views are not backed up by science or reality.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

‘It was all a hoax’: NYT destroys Trump’s claims of business success — in second blockbuster on his taxes

Published

on

President Donald Trump's tax returns have resulted in a second bombshell story by The New York Times.

"From the back seat of a stretch limousine heading to meet the first contestants for his new TV show “The Apprentice,” Donald J. Trump bragged that he was a billionaire who had overcome financial hardship. 'I used my brain, I used my negotiating skills and I worked it all out,” he told viewers. “Now, my company is bigger than it ever was and stronger than it ever was.' It was all a hoax," the newspaper reported Monday evening.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Trump campaign accused of ‘laundering’ 170 million — companies linked to Brad Parscale are implicated: report

Published

on

The Trump campaign may be in legal hot water after a new complaint accused the organization of money laundering.

"The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission Tuesday accusing the Trump campaign of “laundering” $170 million through numerous companies, some with connections to former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale," Forbes reported Monday.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE