Eagle 8 still awaiting return of bail money

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imageFour months after the City of Atlanta’s criminal cases against the Eagle 8 collapsed, the co-owner of the bar that bailed the defendants out of jail is still waiting for a refund of more than $3,500.

Richard Ramey (photo), the co-owner of the Eagle, says that after months of calls, he’s frustrated that the city’s Department of Corrections hasn’t refunded the money he used to bail out seven of the eight men arrested when the Atlanta Police Department stormed the bar last September. The Eagle 8 were booked into the city jail on ordinance violations and initially did not receive bail.

“I shouldn’t have to beg for my money,” Ramey says. “I’ve gone through enough stress over this. My damage control is out of the roof. I’m trying to run a business. I shouldn’t have to beg for this.”

When bail was set, Ramey spent $4,037 to bail out his business partner, Robert Kelley, and six other men arrested in the raid. The eighth person, an Eagle bartender, was bailed out by a friend.

imageSeven of the eight men were cleared of the criminal charges during a trial on March 11, while the eighth person did not appear for the trial and faces a bench warrant for his arrest. But despite the conclusion of the criminal case, Ramey has not received a refund of the bail money for the six men, though the bartender did about a week later. The total due: $3,584.

“Why did it work for one and not for all? Why was his check issued and sent directly to him and why is mine being held or not even being issued? I don’t have an answer for that,” Ramey says.

Ramey says he’s made scores of calls to city jail administrators since the trial to no avail. He even called Atlanta Police Chief George Turner, who returned the call Friday morning. Ramey says the chief offered to meet with him and said the city’s legal department would contact him about the bail refund. Officer Patricia Powell, the police department’s LGBT liaison, also called Ramey on Friday.

Ramey says he hasn’t received a call from city attorneys. An Atlanta Police Department spokesperson said Friday that the agency doesn’t handle bail money and referred questions to municipal court.

The chief of the Department of Corrections could not be immediately reached on Friday. Judge Crystal Gaines, the municipal court’s chief judge who presided over the Eagle 8 trial, also could not be reached on Friday.

Ramey says his calls to city jail administrators have proved pointless. He and Kelley are among the plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit against the police department and City of Atlanta over the Eagle raid and Ramey says he hopes that isn’t playing a role in the delay in returning the bail money.

“I’ve been calling to try and get my money back, which I desperately need. The response is that they don’t care, they are very rude to me on the phone, they’ve been very uncooperative. It’s like it’s no big deal to them,” Ramey says.

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