URBANA — An Arkansas man who showed up at his pretrial hearing Tuesday on weapons charges was arrested so he could post bond legitimately.
Edwin McCraney, 25, of West Memphis was one of about a dozen defendants for whom arrest warrants were issued last month after Champaign County jail officials learned that their bond had been posted through an online service using stolen credit-card information. He had been arrested by Rantoul police.
In the wake of that discovery, Sheriff Dustin Heuerman suspended the use of GovPay.com on March 20.
Heuerman said at the time there had been more than $25,000 in bail paid with the remote online option from suspected stolen credit-card information since the beginning of the year.
“We have seen an increase in fraudulent activity as of late and fear that as word of this spreads, more fraud will take place,” he said.
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz sought warrants for the arrests of those who had been released with money that came from the accounts of people whose credit-card information had been stolen.
Judge Tom Difanis signed those warrants, setting bond at the same amount as was set on the underlying criminal charges.
In McCraney’s case, he was charged with aggravated unlawful use of weapons and aggravated assault, Class 4 and Class A misdemeanor offenses, respectively, in connection with his Feb. 16 arrest by Rantoul police, and his bond was set at $10,000. He was told to be back in court for his first pretrial appearance Tuesday.
Whoever posted the bond online for him put up $1,034 to win his release Feb. 25. Two days later, GovPay notified the county that the bond had been posted with stolen credit-card information and the money was refunded to the rightful owner.
Assistant State’s Attorney Chris McCallum said the rightful credit-card holder lives in Pennsylvania and had no connection to McCraney.
Heuerman said he’s heard no complaints from anyone about the suspension of the GovPay service.
Credit cards may still be used to post bond, but they have to be presented in person at the jail by the poster. Cash and money orders are also acceptable forms of bond, he said.