A judge has granted a $500,000 bond for Compass Academy co-founder Jonathan “Jay” Brooks.
Circuit Court Judge Doyet “Jack” Early signed the order setting the new bond on June 17, and it was filed on Monday with the Aiken County Clerk of Court's office. Brooks remained incarcerated in the Aiken County detention center on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the order, once bonded out, Brooks would be banned from contacting any of the victims; however, “actual repayment” of money to the victims would not be considered a violation of that condition.
Brooks would be allowed to return to his home in Prosper, Texas; however, he would be under GPS monitoring by the Aiken County detention center and could not leave his home except to go to work, church, his doctor and his attorney.
“Defendant explained to this Court that he was in the import export business,” Early wrote. “Whatever his 'work' is, he is required to provide written documentation to the bondsman, the clerk, and the State regarding the details, i.e. place, time, and type of work.”
Brooks was arrested in July 2013 on one count of securities fraud, but a grand jury 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 in May on allegations that Brooks 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.
Texas authorities have since withdrawn the charges against Brooks because he had paid the victim off, Assistant Attorney General Brian Petrano said during a bond hearing in Aiken on June 11. Early said he wanted to see affidavits from Brooks' bonding company stating that they would be willing to continue his bond and that he has cooperated with them. He also asked for an affidavit from Sherri Lydon, the court-appointed receiver for Compass Academy and Brooks' other assets, stating that he has cooperated with her in paying back the victims.
According to the order setting bond, the bonding company provided an affidavit stating that Brooks checked in with the company when he was supposed to and that he “has done everything that we have asked him to do.”
“... We have had no problems with Mr. Jonathan Brooks' bond and we would have no problems re-bonding him again,” the document stated.
Lydon also provided an affidavit.
“There are virtually no assets in this case by which to make the victims whole,” she wrote, adding that the only “significant” asset was Compass Academy, which has already been sold.
Lydon said Brooks agreed to turn over any equity in his home, which still hasn't sold, and also turned over a diamond ring. Brooks also had two vehicles, one of which he was “upside down” on; however, he paid Lydon the Blue Book value on the other vehicle.
Brooks' attorney, Todd Rutherford, said at the bond revocation hearing in May that Brooks is employed in the “import/export” business, and that he has been working with Lydon to pay back the victims.
“He has maintained that he would send me monies to pay back the investors, but so far I have not received any and am told that he does not have the means to do this,” Lydon wrote.
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 advocate for the attorney general's office has said there are more than 50 alleged victims of Brooks in South Carolina.
The case is expected to go to trial in October.
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.