In light of the $25 million bail set by a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge for Marion “Suge” Knight (which we wrote about earlier this week), we thought it would be interesting to take a look at some of the highest bails ever set in the United States and in other countries.
Curiously, those accused of white collar crimes tend to be on the higher end of the bail scale. Even curiouser, some judges seem to pull these numbers out of a hat or take their cues from Dr. Evil, as you’ll see later at the top of this list.
The following list isn’t comprehensive by any means, but it gives you a bit of an idea how crazy large (and just plain crazy) some of the higher bail amounts can get.
#12 – Bernard “Bernie” Madoff – $10 Million USD
Bernard “Bernie” Madoff was accused of operating a $50 billion “Ponzi” scheme which defrauded thousands of investors. Madoff posted $10 million bail in December 2008 and remained under 24-hour monitoring and house arrest in his Upper East Side penthouse apartment until March 2009, when Judge Denny Chin revoked his bail and remanded him to the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Chin claimed Madoff was a flight risk, because of his age, his wealth, and the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison. Source: Wikipedia
#11 – Marion “Suge” Knight – $25 Million USD
A Los Angeles County judge set Marion “Suge” Knight’s bail at $25 million last week. Knight’s attorney said that the bail was “laughable”, stating that bail in other prominent murder cases at most is $5 million. Read More: Suge Knight $25 Million Bail: Too Much?
#10 – Michael Sorodsky – $33 Million USD
Michael Sorodsky, who was accused of sexually molesting his sedated cancer patients in 2009, was hit with a $33 million bond by a New York judge. Prosecutors alleged that Sorodsky failed to heal the gravely ill women who paid as much as $1,000 per treatment for his holistic therapies, sexually molested them, and even raped at least one sedated patient. Source: Daily News
#9 – Shirley Ji – $75 Million USD
See #6 below.
#8 – Raj Rajaratnam – $100 Million USD
Galleon Group founder Raj Rajaratnam’s bail was set at $100 million bail by a New York judge while he faced criminal charges in an alleged $20 million insider-trading scheme in 2009. At the time, it was the highest bail ever set in the United States. Rajaratnam had been charged with 14 counts of conspiracy and seven counts of securities fraud. His hedge fund was valued at $3.7 billion in 2009. On May 11, 2011 he was found guilty on all counts of conspiracy and securities fraud, and was sentenced later that year to 11 years in prison and fined a criminal and civil penalty of over $150 million combined. Sources: Business Insider | Wikipedia
#7 – Christopher Williams – $100 Million USD
In 2010, Christopher Williams’ bail was set at $100 million by a Memphis, Tenn. judge. Williams was charged with attempted second-degree murder, carjacking, aggravated robbery, and using a firearm in the commission of a dangerous felony. The judge on the case stated that in considering Williams’ bond amount, he took into account community safety, Williams’ previous bond jumping, his criminal record, his unemployed status, and the long sentence he faces if convicted of all felony charges. Source: Examiner
#6 – Kening Ma – $150 Million USD
In 2010, Kening Ma’s and his wife, Shirley Ji’s, bails were set at $150 million and $75 million, respectively, after they were charged with violating California Air Resources Board regulations. Specifically, the Ontario, Calif. couple were accused of importing motorcycles and ATVs equipped with engines that failed to meet state emissions control laws and then selling them. The indictment listed one count of conspiracy, 33 counts of grand theft (the selling of the ATVs and such, for a total of $27,000), six counts of money laundering ($440,000) and 30 counts of “possession of a false certificate” (smog certificates). Source: CalWatchdog.com
#5 – Julius Meinl V. – 100 Million Euros ($129 Million USD)
Julius Meinl V. the chairman of Meinl Bank AG was arrested in April 2009 over allegations of fraud and misuse of funds related to share purchases in Meinl Bank affiliate Meinl European Land. Oddly enough, the bank focuses on wealth management and investment banking, Meinl was released after two days when he posted the 100 million euro bail set by the Vienna court. Four years later, Meinl received a 90 percent refund on the bail after an appeals court in Vienna ruled the bail amount. Although he was still under investigation at the time, he still hadn’t been formally charged. Source: Bloomberg Business
#4 – Dmitry Firtash – 125 Million Euros ($174 Million USD)
In 2014, Dmitry Firtash, a Ukrainian billionaire who made his fortune importing Russian gas, was in custody for possible extradition to the United States and had his bail set at 125 million euros ($174 million) by a Vienna court. U.S. authorities suspected Firtash of bribery and participating in a criminal organization, the court said. The court justified the bail amount by taking into account Firtash’s wealth and the severity of the crimes alleged. Forbes magazine estimated Firtash’s fortune at $673 million, however, a 2008 secret U.S. cable said he was previously worth $5 billion and “had low-balled his true worth.” Firtash’s bail is the highest ever set in Austria, surpassing the 100 million euros banker Julius Meinl V. (see above) had to pay in 2009. Source: Bloomberg Business
#3 – Kim Freeman – $1 billion USD
In 2005, A Columbus, Ohio judge set bond at $1 billion for Kim Freeman, who was accused, along with three others, of running a brothel. The assistant prosecutor on the case argued that Freeman would flee if she could post bail, because Freeman and the others involved were from Asia and had extensive connections throughout the United States. As a result, prosecutors asked the judge for a high bond, and he chose … cue the Dr. Evil pinky move. … $1 billion. Source: WTSP News
#2 – Subrata Roy – $1.6 billion USD
Subrata Roy, the boss of Indian conglomerate Sahara, is currently in a New Delhi prison on contempt-of-court charges and needs to post $1.6 billion in bail to get out. Roy is being held on contempt charges for failing to comply with a court order to repay investors in a bond scheme later ruled to be illegal. The bail amount is the largest ever in India and reflects the cost of the illegal scheme, estimated by Indian regulators to be as much as $7 billion. Source: Business Insider
#1 – Robert Durst – $3 billion USD
New York real estate heir Robert Durst was charged and later acquitted in 2003 in the murder of his neighbor, 71-year-old Morris Black. However, after he was acquitted of the murder, he was held in custody on one charge of bond jumping and two of tampering with evidence. The trial judge set Durst’s bail on the charge of bond jumping at $1 billion, saying he was a “flight risk.” After prosecutors charged Durst with evidence tampering, the judge slapped on an additional $2 billion bond, bringing the total bail to a whopping $3 billion. The bail was later lowered after an appeals court overturned the amounts, citing this as a case where bail is “being used as an instrument of oppression.” Source: CNN
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