Judges Order Community Bail Fund to CEASE OPERATIONS amid flood of forfeits; security scandal.

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Scoop: Nashville was the only news outlet inside a Nashville court room on an early Thursday morning in April, for a special called hearing on the future of Nashville’s Community Bail Fund. Today we have the outcome of that hearing, which had Nashville’s former Public Defender Dawn Deaner at odds with a panel of judges, and unwilling to answer many questions asked of her, despite everyone in the room knowing the answers. Deaner is romantically involved with the manager of the Community Bail Fund, Rahim Buford, and represented him during the hearing, but refused to answers the court’s questions about how she provided a metro government access card for government buildings to her alleged lover, Buford of the Bail Fund, that no other bond companies were provided.

A new court order signed May 6th by Criminal Court Division 1-6 judges states the Davidson County Criminal Court hereby rescinds the 2016 order allowing Nashville Community Bail Fund to post new bonds, effective May 20th, 2019.

The Nashville Community Bail Fund began in April of 2016, when a panel of Nashville judges entered an order allowing any cash bail bond deposits of $5,000 or less posted by by the Nashville Community Bail Fund, to be returned to the fund, in full, without anything being deducted for fines, fees, court costs, or restitution that was owed – a feature now exclusive to the Community Bail Fund, and not enjoyed by any other poster of a cash bond. This was all done without an evidentiary hearing, and at the behest of the Davidson County Public Defender’s office, then held by Dawn Deaner, who is romantically involved with the sole full-time employee of the Community Bail Fun Rahim Buford (AKA Rodney Neal Buford), who served 26 years in prison for a murder he committed during an armed robbery at 19, and was released in 2015.

How the Nashville Community Bail Fund Worked & enjoyed special privileges.

Since that April 6th, 2016 order was signed by the sitting judges at the time, several issues have arisen, causing the court to reconsider allowing the Nashville Community Bail Fund to operate under its current guidelines. Of the original authorizing judges, Judge Wyatt and Judge Norman have since retired, replaced by Judge Dalton and Judge Smith, changing the outlook of how the panel viewed the Community Bail Fund. There’s a recording of the April 2019 33-minute hearing below:

LISTEN: Audio of the Hearing that resulted NCBF being forced to cease operations

Of significant note during the recent hearing, The Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk’s office says there are currently $104,200.00 in conditional forfeits on bonds posted by the Nashville Community Bail Fund. According to testimony given by Dawn Deaner, who represented the Bail Fund during the hearing, the Community Bail Fund has made zero efforts to track down anyone that didn’t show up for court, other than possibly placing a phone call to see if they were available. The Community Bail Fund employs no services of any bounty hunters, skip tracers, or programs to track anyone they posted the bail for – and they had no incentive to, as they have not had to pay for any forfeits, the money is simply returned to them to be used to pay the next person’s bail. According to Deaner’s testimony during the hearing, they collect ‘basic’ information such as name and phone number if one is available, of the person they post the bond for. They will collect names and numbers of personal references, if they have them available, but are not required as a condition of qualifying to be bailed out via the fund.

Rahim Buford, with a Metro Government ID & access card, granting access to secured areas

Former Public Defender mixed business & pleasure

Dawn Deaner, who worked in the Nashville Public Defender’s office for more than two decades, found herself endorsing the Nashville Community Bail Fund as the preferred option for getting defendants out of jail who could not afford to pay their own bond, but she also became romantically involved with the sole full-time employee of the Bail Fund, and records show her assistant is the signature on an authorization form allowing Buford to receive a Metro Nashville government ID / access card – which he used to gain access for buildings by swiping, but in many situations, just having the card displayed on a clip or around a neck lanyard, allowed him to enter secured areas of Metro Nashville buildings, even if the card didn’t allow access with a swipe – a security flaw admitted by a member of ITS during our research, and confirmed by other bondsmen who witnessed Buford take advantage of this ‘perk’ of being in a relationship with the Public Defender – something that no other bondsman or company enjoyed .

Norman Robinson, Director of Security for trial courts, told Scoop: Nashville:

“I advised G4S (Security) that Mr. Buford was not allow in any of our Court Facilities without being screened.  It is a long standing policy (20+ yrs) that All Bonding Agents must visibly display their Criminal Court Clerk issued ID and go through the screening process.  Mr. Buford does not have a Clerk issued ID and I’m not aware of his status as a ‘Bonding Agent’. “

“This issue was again raised on 18 April 2019 in that I was told Mr. Buford was using some sort of “ID” to gain access to DCSO/Jail areas.  I passed this info along to DCSO, ITS and G4S Security. The State Trial Courts did not authorized any type of ID/Cardkey to Mr. Rahim Buford (aka Rodney Neal Buford). I don’t know what his involvement with the Public Defender’s Office is/was.  “

NORMAN ROBINSON, DIRECTOR OF SECURITY, STATE TRIAL COURTS.

“Mr. Buford was authorized a Metro volunteer badge during the tenure of the former Public Defender, Dawn Deaner. I don’t have any information on the circumstances of that authorization. After learning this information and analyzing it further, I revoked the badge when I became the Public Defender. To my knowledge, the physical badge was turned in as I requested. “

MARTESHA L. JOHNSON, NASHVILLE PUBLIC DEFENDER (CURRENT)

We were able to confirm his card access was revoked on November 30th, 2018, after the email below was sent. It was first used on June 26th, 2018, as shown in the access log dates above.

The order allowing Nashville Community Bail Fund to operate will become void on May 20th, 2019, allowing time for any petitions to be filed and heard. The sole full-time employee of the Nashville Community Bail Fund, Rahim Buford, also known as Rodney Neal Buford, served 26 years in prison for a murder he committed during an armed robbery at 19, and was released in 2015. He was initially reached for comment in late April, but has since ceased returning any phone or email communication about the situation.

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