Accused Modesto bail agent says he's innocent

12/04/2013 7:53 PM

12/04/2013 7:57 PM

Modesto bail bonds agent Praveen Singh said Wednesday that he is innocent of the crimes with which he is charged and has suffered damage to his reputation as a result of them.

“It is very hard once your image is ruined in the community to build your image,” Singh said during an interview with The Bee after bailing out of jail Wednesday. “That is what is frustrating: To build a reputation, it takes time; to lose it is overnight, and that is what is happening to me.”

Singh, 34, an agent of Singh Bail Bonds, is charged with attempted shooting of an occupied home, soliciting the commission of a shooting at an inhabited home and soliciting the commission of a robbery. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Law enforcement officers involved in a five-agency task force investigating the homicide of Turlock man Korey Kauffman started looking into Singh when he was identified as a person of interest in the homicide.

Singh has been questioned by investigators about Kauffman multiple times over the past several months, said his attorney Jak Sodhi. He has volunteered his cellphone, GPS and car to be searched and took a six-hour polygraph test, Sodhi said.

“He has been wanting to be helpful from the very beginning,” he said. “From my impression, this is really based upon multiple hearsay from various other sources that I don’t find to be credible.”

Assistant District Attorney Carol Shipley wouldn’t say why Singh was named as a person of interest in the homicide.

Sodhi said investigators aren’t questioning Singh as a suspect but as a person they think can point them to the suspect. “There is someone else they are focusing on,” Sodhi said.

No one, however, is saying who that suspect is.

In regard to the charges filed against Singh last week, he said, “I have never had gang members do any crimes for me; there was no crimes committed.”

In an arrest affidavit, the district attorney claimed that, in February, Singh asked two gang members to commit a drive-by shooting of his neighbor’s home. The affidavit said Singh told the gang members he wanted revenge because he believed his neighbor, a correctional officer, poisoned his koi fish, which were in a pond near a shared fence.

The affidavit goes on to claim that, in July, Singh tried to solicit Northern Ryder gang members to rob an outdoor marijuana garden on Whitmore Avenue near Crows Landing Road. Ceres police searched the property and seized the marijuana before any robbery.

Singh said many of his clients are gang members because that is the nature of the bail industry, but that he is not involved in illegal activity with any of them.

Singh bailed out of jail early Wednesday after his bail was reduced from $500,000 to $220,000 Tuesday.

Stanislaus County Superior Court Judge Linda McFadden had set Singh’s bail at $500,000 after approving an arrest warrant.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Dave Harris tried to keep Singh’s bail higher than the scheduled amount by arguing in court Tuesday that he is a danger to the public and possibly could leave the area to avoid prosecution.

“If they believed I was such a danger to society why did they wait 10 months? Why didn’t they arrest me in February if I was doing all these illegal acts?” Singh said. “I am not a danger to society. I am a businessman. I am involved with the public a lot and it is not right (that) my name is being slaughtered everywhere.”

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