A judge said on Wednesday that he wants to see affidavits ensuring the cooperation of Jonathan “Jay” Brooks before granting a bond hearing for the Compass Academy founder.
Brooks was arrested in July 2013 on one count of securities fraud, and a grand jury later returned indictments on additional charges. His bond was reduced from $500,000 to $100,000, and he was allowed to take his family to Texas.
The S.C. Attorney General’s office filed a motion for bond revocation alleging that Brooks, acting as an investment adviser, told a 72-year-old woman from Denton County, Texas, that he would roll over $10,900 of her money into an IRA, but he instead cashed the check and converted the money to his personal use.
At a bond revocation in Lexington last month, Assistant Attorney General Brian Petrano said he received word from Texas authorities that they planned to withdraw the charges against Brooks because he reportedly paid back the victim.
Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early said he would revoke the bond until Texas authorities withdrew their warrants. During a hearing on Wednesday in Aiken, Petrano said he received word that the warrant in Texas had been disposed of.
Authorities had difficulty locating Brooks in Texas to serve him with the warrant. His attorney, Todd Rutherford, said Brooks moved to a different home close by because he couldn’t afford the home he moved to at first.
“What happened in Texas was a misunderstanding between he and a friend of his,” Rutherford said. “It was not a sale of securities, and it was not criminal or it would not have been dismissed in Texas.”
Rutherford said Brooks has been cooperating with Sherri Lydon, the court-appointed receiver for Compass Academy and all of Brooks’ assets.
“He is currently cooperating, and we’re going to have discussions with those that are trying to sue my client in order to expedite the victims getting paid back,” Rutherford said. He asked for a bond of $100,000 and for Brooks to be placed on electronic monitoring so he could go to work and church.
Petrano asked for the original $500,000 bond and argued against Brooks being on electronic monitoring. He also showed Early a photo of the home Brooks was living in when he first moved to Texas: a five-bedroom, four-bathroom home listed for $469,000.
“That’s the kind of life he’s living out on bond,” Petrano said.
Rutherford said Brooks negotiated to move into that home and rent it before he was arrested last year, and that he moved out shortly after because he could not afford it.
Early asked for an affidavit from Brooks’ bonding company stating they would be willing to continue his bond and that he has cooperated with them, which includes making his whereabouts known while he was out on bond. Early also asked for an affidavit from Lydon stating that Brooks has been cooperating with her. He said he would consider a bond hearing after receiving the affidavits, and ordered Brooks held until then.
Aaron Walsh, an attorney representing some of Brooks’ alleged victims, said on Wednesday that he is a flight risk and a danger to society.
“They are people who have lost every bit of their retirement,” he said. “And Mr. Brooks – his cooperation is admirable, but he’s not going to get that money back.”
Teddy Kulmala covers the crime and courts beat for the Aiken Standard.