Christopher Robert Smith, 31, of Panama City, pleaded no contest earlier this month to charges that he impersonated a bail bondsman.
Smith allegedly used his assumed persona as a bondsman to capture two fugitives and transport them to prison for the bounty. He also allegedly confiscated illegal drugs for his personal use from strippers whom he knew to be wanted on active warrants.
Smith’s no contest plea for impersonating a bondsman comes alongside a Feb. 10 conviction for harassing an undercover narcotics officer in a local convenience store. Smith reportedly yelled obscenities at the Bay County officer, who was in the store with his young daughter. As the officer and his daughter tried to leave in their vehicle, Smith boxed them in with his own car, took a photo of the pair, and put the picture on Facebook identifying the man as an undercover officer. Smith was convicted of harassment for the incident after being acquitted for assault.
The officer had known Smith from a narcotics investigation in 2012, when Bay County authorities were assisting the Florida Department of Financial Services Division of Insurance Fraud in a narcotics investigation of Smith’s home. Smith was arrested during the investigation for impersonating a bail bondsman and on various drug charges. Though all drug-related charges were dropped due to a judge’s ruling that evidence was obtained by illegal search, Smith apparently decided not to drop his grudge.
Lisa Ann Anderson, Smith’s defense attorney in the case of impersonating a bondsman, says that he plans to appeal the harassment charge on First Amendment grounds.
“This boils down to… you don’t have a freedom of speech right when you’re out on bond,” said Anderson. She estimated that the appeals process would take three years.
Barring a successful appeal, Smith will serve a five-year sentence for the harassment conviction concurrently with a 2-and-a-half year sentence for impersonating a bail bondsman.
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