Quantcast
Connect with us

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

Published

on

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: Franklin Graham tells Jeanine Pirro coronavirus pandemic is because of people sinning

Published

on

Franklin Graham blamed sinners for the COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic during a Saturday night appearance on Fox News.

Host Jeanine Pirro noted the growing death toll and wondered how God could let that happen.

"Well, I don't think it's God's plan for this to happen," Graham said.

"It's because of the sin that's in the world, judge," he argued.

"Man has turned his back on God, we have sinned against him, and we need to ask for God's forgiveness and that's what Easter's all about," he continued.

"This pandemic, this is the result of a fallen world that has turned its back on God," he added.

Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Drought causing water shortage amid coronavirus crisis in Chile

Published

on

With historically low river flows and reservoirs running dry due to drought, people in central Chile have found themselves particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus pandemic.

Years of resource exploitation and lax legislation have allowed most reservoirs in that part of the country to run dry.

"There are now 400,000 families, nearly 1.5 million people approximately, whose supply of 50 liters of water a day depends on tankers," Rodrigo Mundaca, spokesman for the Movement for the Defense of Water, the Earth and the Protection of the Environment, told AFP.

One of the main pieces of advice to protect people against coronavirus is to wash your hands regularly.

Continue Reading
 

Breaking Banner

Trump warns of ‘tough week’ ahead — after the United States surpassed 300,000 coronavirus victims

Published

on

US President Donald Trump warned Americans on Saturday to brace for a "very horrendous" number of coronavirus deaths in the coming days as the total number of global fatalities from the pandemic soared past 60,000.

As confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States surpassed 300,000 with more than 8,300 deaths, there was some encouraging news in Italy and Spain.

Europe continues to bear the brunt of the epidemic, however, accounting for over 45,000 of the worldwide deaths, and Britain reported a new daily high in fatalities.

There are now more than 1.17 million confirmed coronavirus cases around the world and there have been 63,437 deaths since the virus emerged in China late last year.

Continue Reading
 
 
You need honest news coverage. Help us deliver it. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free.
close-image