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ACLU Montana Sues Bail Bond Industry Under Organized Crime Law

Lolo resident Eugene Mitchell in a screengrab from an ACLU video
ACLU Montana
Lolo resident Eugene Mitchell in a screengrab from an ACLU video

A lawsuit filed in federal court in Missoula Wednesday says America’s bail bond industry amounts to organized crime.

The ACLU of Montana is suing five parties in Montana and two out of state insurance companies over an April 2017 incident when armed bounty hunters kicked in the door ofEugene Mitchell’s home in Lolo, and took him away at the direction of a Missoula bail bondsman. That bondsman, the ACLU says, is backed by out of state insurance companies.

"These bounty hunters would not be kicking in somebody’s door, armed with assault rifles if they weren’t entering into contracts with the bail bondsman, who is likewise being enabled by massive insurance companies," said Alex Rate, legal director for ACLU of Montana. 

The lawsuit says those entities should be punished using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO law that’s been used to target organized crime groups.

Defendants include First Call Bailin Missoula, members of the Montana Civil Assistance Group and Allegheny Casualty Company. Allegheny said its policy is to not comment on litigation, attempts to reach the other defendants were unsuccessful.

Eric Whitney is NPR's Mountain West/Great Plains Bureau Chief, and was the former news director for Montana Public Radio.
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