MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A man whom people trusted with their money to get their loved ones out of jail spent time in the big house himself.
Sixty-oneyear-old Isiah Hanks Conway is charged with impersonating a licensed professional.
When a loved one is thrown in jail, most people will do anything to get them out. According to police, Conway was banking on that mentality.
“Our agents developed information that he was selling folks what they thought to be bail bonds but instead keeping the money for himself,” Josh Devine, Public Information Officer for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, told WREG over the phone.
TBI looked into Conway for nearly five months.
The investigation ended at Hester Bail Bond, located in the 200 block of Exchange Avenue in Downtown Memphis.
The owner was not at the business on Tuesday, but a man who cleans for the business answered the door.
“It shocked me cause two minutes later they came in with their pistols and stuff,” Stanley Grove said.
Grove recalled Conway being at the bonding business on Monday, with a so-called client, trying to make a bond.
However, Conway did not know the whole thing was a set up.
“The police come in and make everyone get down on the floor,” Grove said.
TBI agents barged inside and arrested Conway after they made a money exchange with him worth nearly $4,000.
“He was basically misrepresenting himself and keeping the cash that he collected for his own personal gain,” Devine said.
Conway is accused of targeting the Hispanic community.
Latino Memphis, a Hispanic advocacy organization, was sickened by the allegations.
The director of the organization, Mauricio Calvo, issued the following statement:
It is unfortunate that anyone would take advantage of another individual during a vulnerable moment. The alleged charges are predatory and they feed the distrust that many people already have of our judicial system. We applaud the efforts of our law enforcement officials for taking action against this type of practice.
Grove said the accused con-artist is no stranger to the area near 201 Poplar.
“He goes around to all bonding companies everybody knows that,” Grove said.
Conway is also no stranger to police.
According to Devine, “There was a previous incident dating back to 2010 which Mr. Conway actually pleaded guilty to theft in a similar case that we investigated.”
Stemming from that incident, Conway is not supposed to work in the bail bonds business.
“I think that we license bail bondsmen for a reason and this is the reason,” Devine said.
Experts said if you need to get a bond, make sure you go to a legitimate business and ask to see your agent’s license.
Conway is out on bail and due back in court next week.