Local News

Woman accused in Wake bail bonds scheme pleads guilty

Posted May 9, 2014
Updated May 10, 2014

— A woman accused of cheating the Wake County Public School System out of unpaid bonds accepted a plea deal on Friday to avoid jail time.

Latoya Barnes, a former Wake County court clerk, apologized in court Friday morning for intentionally falsifying defendants' electronic court records in 12 cases to reflect that bail bondsmen had paid $27,400 in bonds when they had not.

A bail bondsman must pay the bond of a client who does not show up for court. The money is then used for public education, as required by the state constitution.

Barnes, who pleaded guilty to a felony count of altering court records, received two years of probation because she had no prior criminal record and because she alerted authorities to her actions.

Authorities said her actions came to light as the State Bureau of Investigation looked into an alleged scheme involving another court clerk and two bondsmen. They said she wasn't involved with the others and that she was the least culpable in the case.

Kelvin Ballentine, a 36-year-old former Wake County court clerk, and bondsmen James Perkins, 41, of 1035 Delta River Way in Knightdale, and Kenneth Golder II, 42, of 735 Obsidian Way in Durham, are charged with falsifying bond records in hundreds of cases from January 2008 to July 2013, totaling more than $1.5 million.

Defense attorney Jesse Scharff said Barnes made a deal to wipe away forfeited bonds from court records in exchange for help getting her son out of jail after he was arrested in Johnston County in 2011.

"I just want to thank the court and SBI agents for being as cooperative with me as well and just apologize to the whole court and everyone for all that they've had to go through because of my actions," Barnes said in court.

Superior Court Judge Donald Stephens credited Barnes for turning herself in and helping to open up the larger investigation.

"I know that you can work 20 or 30 years and be an outstanding public servant and make one bad judgment and ruin all that," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • Shawn Kennedy May 9, 2014
    user avatar

    right is right and wrong is wrong.....A thief is a thief. Stealing is stealing. there is no grey she knew she was going to get caught or thought she had a good reason this is why she admitted to it. If she thought she could have got away with it she would still be doing it. True character comes out when you think no one is watching..of course in todays world we live for excuses and not taking responsibility for ones own actions.

  • Brian Jenkins May 9, 2014

    So she got the felony diversion program. Two years probation, some community service and her record is squeeky clean.

  • 678devilish May 9, 2014

    She knew right from wrong; yet she chose to do it any way. The consequences should have be move prevalent. She will do this again, when opportunity comes again.

  • Obamacare returns again May 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    No, I still want to see her behind bars.

  • elkerster May 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    That makes no sense though. If she was not involved she wouldn't get any sentence of any kind. That would be like if you witnessed a robbery at a store, told the cops and you got probation for reporting it. I doubt that article is right.

  • elkerster May 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    She didn't actually steal any money so there is nothing to pay back. The Bail bondsmen should be responsible to pay back the money they owed in the first place.

  • elkerster May 9, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Yes the money is owed but it's really owed by the bail bondsmen who originally owed it. They knew the owed it and they should have paid it. She should still get jail time.

  • Richard Hertz May 9, 2014
    user avatar

    Do you think the police would allow me to go without a ticket if I admitted to speeding when pulled over? This is one of many reasons this country is so messed up. Plenty of crime just no punishment.

  • "Screen Name-8/20" May 9, 2014

    Zoso & LessGovt -

    You're both wrong!!!

    I had the opportunity to work with the majority of the judges at the Wake Court House several years back, including Judge Stephens. A more honest and thorough judge (or attorney) I have never worked with.

    He was the only judge I worked with there at the time who carefully scrutinized every single document before signing off on it, asking questions along the way if he found something he didn't understand or wanted further clarification on - something very few judges (or attorneys) actually do.

    He rarely cuts anyone a deal, and if he does, you can be sure he had a very good reason backed with actual evidence for doing so.

    This particular woman got off easily because (as another story published elsewhere says) it was she who brought the scheme to the attention of the authorities and it was she who helped them wrangle in ALL of the people who were involved.

    Do you understand now?

  • Wheelman May 9, 2014

    No defense of her and her guilt, but many of you either didn't read the story or didn't read it well. She was not involved with the bondsmen and other clerk who did steal 1.5 million. She was involved with stealing $27,400 by way of helping a bondsman who was going to get her son out of jail in return for her help in falsifying the records. She did help them catch the others, so typically she would get a lighter sentence. While I don't necessarily agree with the sentence, what she did is nothing compared to the other clerk and bondsmen or the lady who embezzled millions.