Sacramento bail bondsman facing gun, other charges

A Sacramento bail bondsman, who is an ex-felon with a drug history, has been criminally charged with a number of weapons violations for taking guns instead of money from arrestees who were looking to get out of jail.

Some of the guns that bondsman Shawn Allen Rapoza accepted in lieu of cash were stolen, according a prosecutor’s declaration supporting the 21-count criminal complaint filed Nov. 19 by the Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office.

Rapoza, 36, still holds the license he obtained in November 2010 at Ace Deuce Bail Bonds on H Street, although the state Department of Insurance has since taken action to suspend it.

The DA’s Office charged Rapoza with two counts of possession and two more counts of transportation of assault weapons. He is named in six counts of being an ex-felon in possession of firearms. The complaint also accuses him of illegal possession of a stun gun, possession of ammunition, possession of methamphetamine, paying an inmate to solicit bail for him in the jail and failing to properly maintain collateral that was posted as bail.

In his declaration, Deputy District Attorney Sam Alexander said Rapoza admitted to the possession of some of the weapons and also to meth.

“Some of the weapons were stolen, and the defendant accepted those weapons in exchange for providing bail,” Alexander said in the declaration.

Prosecutors declined to comment further on the case.

Sacramento attorney John Virga, whose office is representing Rapoza, said, “At this point, he is presumed innocent.” Virga declined to comment further.

Sacramento Superior Court records show that Rapoza was convicted in 1997 for possession of methamphetamine and for illegally carrying a weapon and was placed on probation. The next year, Rapoza pleaded no contest to possession of methamphetamine for sale and was sentenced to state prison for two years, the records showed.

He could not be reached Tuesday, and a man who answered a telephone at the Ace Deuce office declined to comment.

Rapoza, whose next court date is Dec. 10, is free on a $250,000 bond. His bail had been set as high as $500,000, but it was lowered by Judge Laurel D. White at a Thursday hearing in Sacramento Superior Court.

In a letter to the court for the bail review, Rapoza’s parents said: “In the early years of his life, Shawn was involved in things he should not have. He had to pay a heavy price and suffered the consequences.”

The letter said Rapoza was released from prison in 2000, worked in the construction industry and obtained his bail bonds license when the economy slowed the local construction business.

“Shawn has been the sole bread winner for his family for over a year,” the parents’ letter said. “We are finding it very difficult too and are shocked to hear of these charges brought against him.”

Prosecutors charged Rapoza with illegal possession and transportation of a Stag Arms .223 assault rifle and an Interdynamic 9mm handgun, also classified in the complaint as an assault weapon.

A Nov. 13 search of his home, business and a storage locker also turned up a Winchester pump shotgun, a Taurus .38 revolver, a Daniel Defense .223 rifle, a Survival Arms .223 rifle, a Glock semiautomatic pistol, a Taurus .357 revolver, a Sturm Ruger .357 revolver, a Derringer .38, a Vulcan .223 rifle, a Jennings .22 pistol, a stun gun and some 9mm ammunition.

Investigators also found 1.87 grams of methamphetamine, according to Alexander’s declaration.

According to an affidavit in support of the search warrant, Sacramento police first became interested in Rapoza when a patrol officer listening in on jailhouse phone calls made by a person he had arrested for theft heard the inmate talking on a number of occasions with Rapoza.

In August, the investigation revealed that Rapoza was driving a Chevy TrailBlazer that a woman who made bail in May 2011 had posted as collateral – a violation of the California Code of Regulations governing bail agents, according to the DA’s Office.

The investigators also learned that Rapoza received more than 90 calls from an inmate who has since been convicted on felony charges of receiving stolen property.

During one of his calls, the inmate told Rapoza “that he would be working for him,” according to the affidavit – a violation of a state law that prohibits bail agents from using incarcerated people to solicit business. Rapoza and the inmate spoke “several times a week, sometimes multiple times per day,” the affidavit said.

“(The inmate) would tell Shawn that he found a person who was looking for bail and hand the phone over to another inmate who would then discuss terms of bail, such as collateral and down payments,” the affidavit said.

Jail records showed that in exchange for the business contacts, Rapoza had money put on the inmate’s books, including one instance when the bondsman’s father made the deposit.

Detectives also learned during the course of the investigation that a Yolo County burglary suspect provided Rapoza with stolen goods in exchange for bail, the affidavit said.

Sacramento bounty hunter Leonard Padilla, a longtime figure in the area’s bail industry, said Rapoza came into the local bail scene “brand new a couple years ago” and “overnight, he’s in the top five as far as writing bail.”

“An unknown like him starts shooting up and people are saying, ‘Wait. What’s going on?’”

State regulations that govern bail bondsmen in California do not bar them from getting a license if they have a criminal conviction.