A-1 Outlaw Bonding owner charged in witness intimidation conspiracy

Published 1:09 am Sunday, March 1, 2009

The owner of A-1 Outlaw bonding, Anita Carol Pearson, is being charged with conspiracy to intimidate a state witness after allegedly attempting to pay an inmate to cause physical harm to another inmate who is a witness in a case against her.

Justice Court Judge Nell Y. Coward appeared irritated that Pearson was in shackles, immediately asking that they be removed and later told the chief witness against Pearson that she expected him to lie to her during Pearson’s initial appearance Saturday morning. Cowart later apologized for her actions.

Pearson, 48, of 13000 George St., was brought before Cowart, who immediately asked for Pearson’s shackles to be removed, saying that Pearson is not a criminal. After repeated requests from Cowart to have Pearson’s shackles removed were refused by Chief Deputy Shane Tucker and Chief Investigator Donnie Saucier, the judge asked Tucker to call Sheriff David Allison, who was out of town.

Saucier asked Cowart if removing the shackles from an inmate in custody at a court hearing is protocol in her courtroom, to which she replied, “No, we have a different policy for all inmates. Let me talk to David.”

When Cowart got on the phone with Allison to request Pearson’s shackles be removed, he declined her request.

“Carol is not a criminal. She’s not going to stay here another night, that’s all I got to say,” Cowart said into the phone.

With that, Cowart asked Pearson if she minded that the shackles remain on as the proceedings took place. Pearson gave a quiet acknowledgment and the proceedings began.

Just before Cowart went to swear in Saucier as witness, she told him she knew he was going to tell her a lie, then proceeded to swear him in.

Saucier did not respond to the comment by Cowart and proceeded with his testimony.

The chief investigator said the investigation into the most recent charges against Pearson began when he was contacted by a confidential source inside the jail who told him that Pearson had asked the source to cause Mark Harris “bodily harm.” Harris reported to the Sheriff’s Department back in December that he had been kidnapped and beaten and money and valuables were taken from him as payment for a previous bond put up by Pearson’s company. That alleged crime took place months prior to Harris reporting it to the department. Since then, numerous agents of A-1 Outlaw Bonding, including Pearson, have been arrested on various charges in a number of other alleged similar incidents involving more than one victim. Those charges range from kidnapping to armed robbery.

After Saucier was notified of the complaint of this most recent alleged crime, investigators secured a prepaid cell phone for recording purposes and got it to the inmate as a “smuggled” cell phone. Two additional phone calls, which were both recorded, involved conversations between the informant and Pearson concerning the inmate causing Harris “bodily harm” in exchange for money, Saucier said.

Before the plan was initiated, Pearson instructed the informant to wait until Harris had an opportunity to speak with his lawyer, to see what Harris had to say about the case. After the lawyer failed to talk to Harris, the second recorded conversation took place where the informant asked Pearson if the plan should proceed.

“She said ‘Hell yes, Hell (expletive) yes!’,” Saucier said.

Pearson indicated to the informant that someone could come to her office to get the money, which was initially determined to be $500, Saucier said. Investigators sent in another informant, wearing a wire to record the conversation. Pearson and Jimmy Meshel, owner of A Outlaw Bonding, asked the informant if she was wired or if she worked for the Sheriff’s Department, Saucier said. After the informant indicated she was not wired nor worked for the Sheriff’s Department, $100 was given to the informant in exchange for “bodily harm” to be done to Harris, Saucier said.

Saucier said “bodily harm” could be construed as murder or something such as a beating. Since the meaning was vague, the department chose to file the lesser charge. As the evidence was relayed to Cowart, her expression noticeably changed to awe.

Cowart set the bond at $5,000 and set Pearson’s preliminary hearing for March 17. After Pearson was escorted out of the courtroom, Cowart apologized to Tucker and Saucier for “bucking the system”.