Bond was revoked on Monday for Compass Academy founder Jay Brooks on allegations that he swindled an elderly Texas woman out of more than $10,000; however, Texas authorities are reportedly dropping the charges against Brooks since he paid the victim back.
The hearing was held on Monday at the Lexington County Courthouse.
After Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early made his ruling, Brooks was escorted from the courtroom by an officer.
Assistant Attorney General Brian Petrano asked that Brooks be jailed in Aiken County. He had not been booked into the jail as of press time on Monday.
Brooks was arrested in July 2013 and charged with one count of securities fraud; however, a grand jury returned indictments on additional charges. His bond was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000, and as a condition, he was allowed to take his family to an unknown part of Texas as long as he surrendered his passport.
A motion for bond revocation filed last month in Aiken County states that Brooks, acting as an investment adviser, told an elderly woman from 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.
Law enforcement in Denton County, Texas, tried to serve an arrest warrant on Brooks, but his home had been vacated.
A bond revocation hearing scheduled for last week in Barnwell was postponed to this week because Brooks’ attorney, Todd Rutherford, is also a state legislator and could not attend the hearing.
Petrano said on Monday that law enforcement in Texas sent him an email stating they planned to “withdraw” the charges against Brooks.
“It looks like the Texas situation will morph into a civil matter, and they will probably not proceed with charges because he’s paid off the victim,” Petrano said.
Petrano said Brooks reportedly paid back the victim $8,000 on Saturday with a promissory note to pay back the rest. The Attorney General’s office still wanted to revoke bond.
“Whatever Texas decides to do and ultimately charge him, the affidavit of probable cause is still an existing document; it’s still a matter of fact, it still exists and establishes that he did ... do this same type of behavior,” Petrano said.
Rutherford said Brooks’ actions were not criminal to begin with.
“A conversation ensued between my client and the elderly lady in Texas,” Rutherford told the court. “She made it clear to the officer that it was a misunderstanding, that it was not what he alleged it to be. She made it clear that she didn’t want to pursue criminal charges in the beginning. ... Mr. Brooks has not done anything criminal to violate his bond.”
Early ruled to revoke Brooks’ bond until the Texas warrants were withdrawn.
“If that’s in 10 minutes, that’s fine. If it’s in 10 days, that’s fine,” he said.
Petrano said after the hearing that Brooks may have to have another bond hearing if the charges in Texas are withdrawn.
“My understanding is that the bond has been revoked,” Petrano said. “(Early) asked me for a proposed order, and the way I’m going to draft it is, he’d have to have a fresh bond.”
Petrano said the case is expected to go to trial in Aiken in October.
The warrant for Brooks’ arrest last year alleges that he took investment money for a fictional entity called the Charles Howell Trust, but instead converted the funds for his personal use.
A victim’s advocate for the attorney general’s office said last week that there are more than 50 alleged victims of Brooks in South Carolina.
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard.