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Bail agent pleads guilty to “forced labor” in exchange for bail bonds

Regular Policy Watch readers will remember the case of Phillip Armachain, a Cherokee-based bail bondsman charged with abusing his position to coerce sex from women he bailed out of jail, including a young woman under the age of 18.

Phillip Armachain, a Cherokee bail agent, is accused of using his position to coerce sex from women he bailed out of jail.

It is also alleged Armachain, a citizen of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the only bond agent servicing the native population of Cherokee, loaned money at a 100 percent interest rate to people too poor to make payments in bail deals he offered them.

Late last month Armachain pleaded guilty to one count of forced labor – a felony charge for which he could face a maximum sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine.

The Smoky Mountain News reports that the mother of Armachain’s alleged underage victim has also been charged in the case.

From their story:

A fourth victim, the complaint said, was a girl between the ages of 12 and 16 whose mother borrowed money from Armachain. According to the complaint, Armachain would give her the money only if she sent her daughter in alone to get it. During those visits, according to an investigator’s testimony in a court transcript, Armachain would digitally penetrate the girl and touch her breasts under the shirt.

The girl’s mother was later charged in the case as well, with a second superseding bill of indictment issued in December 2017 charging Armachain and the mother with three counts of sexual abuse of a child 12 to 16 years old, a crime that includes either committing the sexual acts or aiding and abetting another in commission of those acts. In addition, Armachain faced two charges of forced labor for “obtaining the labor and services of (the victims) by means of the abuse and threatened abuse of law and legal process.”

However, the cases were later separated, with the mother in January pleading guilty to misprision of felony, a crime that occurs when a person has knowledge of a felony being committed but does not alert authorities as soon as possible. The crime comes with a maximum prison sentence of three years.

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