Controversy After Bail Bondsman Buys Las Vegas Golf Trip
Are bail bonds fundamentally different from other industries, and should its respective marketing practices be scrutinized beyond that of other verticals? That question is now plaguing two Michigan Assistant Prosecutors and a Muskegon County Sherriff. A golf trip to Las Vegas, paid for by a local bail bondsman named Tommy DePung, has landed the public servants in hot water.
The Muskegon County Prosecutor said that the pair of Assistant Prosecutors acceptance of gifts, paid for by a bail bondsman, was inappropriate. Consequently, they were suspended, with pay, for accepting “an all expense paid” Las Vegas golf trip. While the Muskegon sheriff has come under scrutiny for having a close relationship with Bad Boys Bail Bonds owner Tommy DePung who supplied the trip. In fact, the Bail Bonds Update Blog suggests their relationship may be cause for concern in Bail Bondsman, Las Vegas Trip Cause Stir. While no criminal charges have been filed, both Assistant Prosecutors were the subject of an official investigation which ultimately ended with their termination.
There are certainly ethical questions that are raised when public officials accept gifts. In many cases, there are statutory prohibitions which bar acceptance of gifts and provide for criminal sanctions against civil servants. With that in mind, many would say the onus is on the Assistant Prosecutors to navigate the ethical landscape of gifts, not that of a bail bondsman who is simply marketing his wares. However, whether a bail bondsman believes he is doing something legal or not, he must be aware of the potential ramifications from being associated with such an endeavor. Sometimes the mere appearance of impropriety is as detrimental and damaging as actually perpetrating an indiscretion.
Having an industry’s marketing efforts come under scrutiny is not unique to the bail bonds business. Historically, pharmaceutical companies have spent loads of money and bought lavish gifts for their customers (physicians). Incidentally, physicians’ Hippocratic oath and fiduciary relationship with their patients similarly elevate their moral obligation to uphold impartiality in much the same way as public officials are sworn to serve the citizens and uphold a higher standard of ethics.Continued on the next page