The San Marcos Mercury used an open records request to find out how much Hays County made on the bail for a guru/convicted child molester who split town before sentencing.
The county had refused to divulge how much it made in a deal with the man who posted the $10 million bond for Prakashanand Saraswati, who was convicted in March on 20 counts of indecency with a child. His benefactor was TV infomercial entrepreneur Peter Spiegel.
A ruling from the state Attorney General’s office makes clear that the amount is clearly public record. The county contended that the amount was confidential as part of an agreement it made with Spiegel.
The county had a reason for trying to keep the amount secret. The deal wasn’t too sweet for taxpayers: $200,000, plus the previously disclosed $1 million.
From the story:
County officials were not immediately available to explain why they left so much money on the table. It could have something to do with the All Star team of four bond lawyers Spiegel hired to defend him.
“Literally, they teach bond law and they also go to the state legislature and propose legislation on bail bond law. I was fortunate to prevail the way I did,” former Hays County Assistant District Attorney David Mendoza told the Mercury in June.
Since charges were filed in 2008, Saraswati was allowed to go free as he awaited trial, even getting permission to leave the country in lieu of the bond.
He has been featured on America’s Most Wanted and remains on the lam. Saraswati is known to his devotees as Shree Swamiji.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo illustration 'Money tunnel' by flickr user RambergMediaImages, used via a Creative Commons license.