Family suspects bail bond company used a fake ankle monitor

By Jody Barr - bio | email

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - A Sumter County family wants answers after their son cut off his GPS monitor without anyone noticing. They say they paid big bucks to make sure he wouldn't take off while out on bond, and it didn't do a bit of good.

For three months, Eddie and Jennifer Jones paid to have their son, 21-year-old Eugene Rhinehardt, free on bond. In 2009, Sumter police charged Rhinehardt with breaking into two homes.
A judge placed him on home detention with GPS tracking. "That monitor was protection for him and for me, and that's what I expected," said Jennifer Jones.

But on October 9, Jennifer Jones found the GPS ankle monitor under her son's bed. The strap had been cut in two.

The problem is that no officers showed up, the satellite bonding company never called, and no one can say exactly when the monitor was cut off. "Question is, what was this paid for?" said Eddie Jones. "We were monitoring and we made the first call then, what's this $85 a week for?"
While on the run, Sumter police say Rhinehart committed six more break-ins and a home invasion. The Jones suspect the bonding company never had their son hooked to a monitoring service in the first place.

Keith Jones' 2-K Bail Bonds in Sumter put up the $40,000 to free Rhinehardt from jail last July. Keith Jones doesn't offer GPS monitoring, but he knows someone who does. "I just referred them to ICU, because that was the only place I knew of that does that type of monitoring here in South Carolina," said Keith Jones.

ICU in Rock Hill offers satellite monitoring for $8 a week. The owner, Ned Polk, owns several bonding companies across the state.

The solicitor's office says Polk's firm didn't notify them until October 19, 10 days after the Jones say they found the monitor under Rhinehart's bed. Two weeks later, a judge signed a bench warrant on Eugene Rhinehart.
"If this band is cut, it shouldn't take us but a matter of seconds before the alert comes through," said Major Daryl McGhaney.

The Sumter-Lee Detention Center uses a web-based, second-by-second home detention system that alerts the jail when someone violates their bond. "You see where the person has authorized leave, but then if you look, it says 'did not return, alert," said McGhaney. "It automatically shoots an alert."

The downside is that the system doesn't offer GPS tracking like the system the Jones were paying for through ICUEelectronic Monitoring.

Why no alert came when Rhinehart cut the ankle monitor off is still a mystery to his parents. "Since it was a state-of-the-art piece of equipment, we should have been notified, as opposed to us notifying them," said Eddie Jones.

We asked Ned Polk to see the satellite reports to confirm that Eugene Rhinehart's ankle monitor was connected to a satellite. Polk said he'd check with his home office before turning over those records, but we haven't been able to reach Polk or have our calls returned since last week.

Eugene Rhinehart is now behind bars, his bond denied.

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