Before he allowed Compass Academy co-founder Jay Brooks to move to Texas as a condition of a lowered bond last July, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Cooper said to Brooks: “The fact that you have moved out of state will ratchet some of the concern that you may not return when you're supposed to.”
Ten months later, Brooks is due in court for a bond revocation hearing on allegations that he violated his bond by stealing more than $10,000 from an elderly man in Texas – and Texas authorities have been unable to locate him.
South Carolina authorities said Brooks' alleged crimes in Texas violate the conditions of his bond. A bond revocation hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in Barnwell, and if Brooks doesn't appear, the attorney general's office will issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
According to a motion for bond revocation, Brooks, acting as an investment adviser, told an elderly man in Texas that he would roll over $10,900 of the victim's money into an IRA, but he instead cashed the check and converted the money to personal use.
Brooks has vacated the home in Texas where he was allowed to live, and law enforcement has been unable to locate him, according to the document.
A spokesman for the attorney general's office said on Thursday that Brooks had not been arrested.
Brooks was arrested in July and charged with one count of securities fraud. His bond was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000, and he was allowed to take his family to an unknown part of Texas.
At a bond hearing immediately after Brooks' arrest in July, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters argued for a bond of no less than $100,000. He told the judge that Brooks had been cooperating with authorities, and had moved his family to an unknown part of Texas.
Brooks' attorney Todd Rutherford told the judge that Brooks lived in Texas from 1998 to 2008, and that his family's move there was no secret. He added that Brooks, who has a wife and two children, turned himself in to authorities and had cooperated with the investigation, and therefore should not be considered a flight risk.
“His move to Texas was not out of the blue and was not unknown to everybody,” Rutherford said at the hearing. He said a bond of $25,000 was “more appropriate ... for someone in this situation.”
“Having considered the risk of flight, threat of harm to the community and other factors governing the setting of bond, this Court finds that bond should be reduced,” Cooper wrote in an order dated July 23, 2013.
According to the document, Brooks' bond allowed him to move to Texas with his family. In addition to surrendering his passport, Brooks was forbidden to have any contact with his alleged victims.
“The Defendant shall not dispose of any assets that could be used for the reimbursement of the victims of this case,” the document stated.
When reached by a reporter, the surety bond company responsible for Brooks' bond declined to comment, citing privacy laws.
An acknowledgement signed by Brooks indicates he had a second appearance scheduled for Nov. 22. It is not known if that appearance was held, or if Brooks appeared.
A message left with Rutherford was not returned by press time on Friday.
The warrant for Brooks' arrest last year alleges that he took investment money for a fictional entity called the Charles Howell Trust and instead converted the funds for his personal use.
An email sent to the Denton County Sheriff's Office in Texas seeking comment was not returned by press time on Friday.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since August 2012. He is a native of Williston and majored in communication studies at Clemson University.
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