“Not one person has gotten away,” bondsman Bobby Brown says from his secured office, once a home just south of downtown Colorado Springs. Brown sits behind a large desk; photos of family and friends (some recognizable to the general public, others only to those close to him) line the walls and nearly any other available space.
He will admit there have been small cases where a client skipped bail and wasn’t worth the investment of time or money to find. Rest assured, however — if you’re worth finding, you will be found, he said.
“I went to Atlanta to find a guy on an $800 bond because he told me I wouldn’t.”
What’cha gonna do?
Bobby Brown’s career path is not one of least resistance. But somehow, in an industry where promises are often broken and a customer’s intentions are frequently suspect, he’s managed to make a successful living as a local bail bondsman since 1990.
Brown was born in Pueblo and moved to Colorado Springs with his family when he was 1 year old. As a student at Harrison High School, he earned an art scholarship to the University of Hawaii, but never, as an academic, made it to the islands. Today, he speaks to students from elementary schools to colleges about life’s little detours.
“When I talk to kids, at the end I’m very truthful with them. … I didn’t get the opportunity to graduate from college. I got a GED … I’d just gotten a [college] scholarship … and shortly after, the very first girl I’d ever kissed in my life presented me with a baby boy. She went on with her life and I was left to be a dad. I had friends going to prom and I was washing diapers.”
Brown said he disappointed his parents and himself. He was working as a laborer at 17 just to make ends meet.
“It was then that I thought it would be so cool to be a cop,” he said.
He turned 21 in 1971 and saw an ad that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office was looking for volunteers. He took an oral board exam and, as he was leaving, a lieutenant asked if he was interested in a full-time job.
“It was like hitting the lottery,” he said. “I made $432 a month, but we had to buy our own patrol car.”
Brown said his parents cosigned a loan for his automobile.
“All the cars were red and white back then, but someone had a Buick, someone had a Chevy, someone had an Oldsmobile, and the county was kind enough to paint them and install a radio and some lights,” he said.
Bad boys, bad boys
Brown was a patrol deputy for 13 months and, because of his dedication, quickly rose through the ranks.
“I’d get off duty, working three shifts in a row, and volunteer to ride with the detectives,” he said. “I just loved the idea of being a cop.”
In the early 1970s, he took his sergeant’s exam but didn’t pass.
“I walked in to talk to the sheriff at the time and thought I was all that and more,” he recalls. “I told him it was screwed up I didn’t make sergeant and I was going to resign.”
Brown said the sheriff took a pencil, dipped it into a glass of water sitting on his desk and pulled it out.
“I’ll never forget it,” Brown recalled. “He said, ‘Bobby, you see how fast that hole filled up? You really want to quit?’ I said, ‘No sir,’ and two weeks later I was promoted to sergeant.”
Brown said, while he had no interest in politics, he was convinced to campaign for his boss in 1974 and, due to a primary loss, he was out of a job by January 1975.
“I wasn’t out of work for long,” he said, moving right away for the Fountain Police Department, starting again from the bottom as a patrolman. Within three months he was assistant chief, he said, but quickly discovered his new boss wasn’t as he appeared. During his time there, Brown assisted in an investigation that ultimately placed the police chief behind bars for molestation, child pornography and incest, Brown said.
In 1976, Brown accepted a position to assist with and run the first narcotics and intelligence bureau that operated under the state attorney general. There he conducted undercover operations along the Western Slope.
One job in Moffat County had him posing as a crooked cop to bring down another local police chief.
“He was stealing evidence and they hired me with no idea what I was really doing,” Brown said. “I was buying drugs right in the police department. I even bought dynamite. That case was how we set up the county’s first grand jury.”
While undercover, he said he was on the verge of being discovered and, after turning over evidence from that case to a special prosecutor, he left traditional law enforcement in 1980. For 10 years, he went into business for himself as an expert witness for criminal defense attorneys on cases ranging from narcotics to sexual assault to homicide.
Brown started his bail bond business in 1990.
“I was having a beer with a friend when he told me that the year before he had made $130,000 in [the bond business]” he said. “I thought, if he could do this drunk — he drank like a fish — then this might be something I could do. I took a test at Coronado High School and, just like that, I was in bonding.”
His life would again take an unexpected turn. Brown discovered celebrity in the 2000s when longtime friend Duane “Dog” Chapman, a former Arvada bondsman who worked on cases with Brown in the 1980s, was approached to do a reality show on the A&E cable TV network. Brown appeared in many episodes shot in Colorado when Chapman, who also operates his bounty hunting business in Hawaii, came back to the lower 48.
“The show is syndicated,” Brown said. “It’s on in all 50 states and 18 countries. You can’t buy that kind of advertising.”
He said, in some ways, his celebrity actually negatively affected his business. The show portrayed him and Chapman as so tenacious, anybody with intentions of skipping bail wouldn’t use his services. Others asked if they could appear on TV if they did skip bail.
Today, Brown is developing two additional reality shows, one that involves racing and has nothing to do with law enforcement.
Brown added that, in 25 years as a bondsman, one case does stand out. He had chased a drug dealer who failed to appear in a Colorado court for 11 years before finally arresting the fugitive in 2013 as he crossed the border from Mexico.
“He wasn’t pleasant to me at all,” Brown said of the arrest.
“It’s funny. They set his trial over a holiday, so he had to spend five extra days in jail [before his court appearance]. He was this great big guy and he started crying. I remember thinking, ‘If you’re crying over five days … how’s that prison sentence going to feel?’ ”
Bobby Brown Bail Bonds
Address: 506 S. Nevada Ave.
Contact: 390-7031; bobbybrown.com