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Sirens & Gavels

Tue., Jan. 12, 2010, 5:23 p.m.

Charges dropped against bondsman

A bail bondsman once called "a threat to the administration of justice" by a prosecutor has been cleared of wrongdoing in a case his lawyer said amounted to a "media circus."

Ryan M. Holmes, 46, owner of Holmes Brothers Bail Bonds, was accused of forcing a customer to give him thousands of dollars. He was arrested in front of TV news crews last August at the Spokane County Courthouse.

But charges against Holmes and his bounty hunter, Brian D. Steenhard, 38, were dismissed this week after the prosecutor realized they'd done nothing criminal.

"It reads like a pretty heinous crime" in the police affidavit, Deputy Prosecutor Patrick Johnson said today. But, "there was a fundamental assumption that turned out not to be correct."

Police thought Holmes had collected $6,000 from the 70-year-old alleged victim that he'd already gotten back from the court.

Instead, Holmes was collecting money owed to him for investigative costs, Johnson said. The man had signed a contract authorizing him to do so, Johnson said.

Charges of first-degree theft, attempted first-degree theft, first-degree identity theft, obtaining a signature by duress or deception and offering a false instrument for filing or record were dismissed Monday against Holmes.

Steenhard's charges of first-degree theft and obtaining a signature by duress or deception also were dismissed.

Holmes had his bondsman license suspended over the incident and is still working to get it back, said his lawyer, Tim Note.

"He's had some pretty big harm done to his business," Note said.

Holmes will be speaking with media on Thursday.

Past coverage: Bail bondsman faces theft charges




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