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Magistrate Orders TV Star to Forfeit Father-in-Law’s Bail

October 6, 1987

RENO, Nev. (AP) _ A $250,000 bond guaranteed by television star Fred Dryer to keep his father-in-law out of prison was ordered forfeited Tuesday after the defendant was indicted for crimes officials said he committed while on bail.

Dryer, star of NBC’s ″Hunter″ and a former pro football player, had agreed to put up property he owns in the Los Angeles area as bail collateral. John Vaccaro had been freed on bail pending an appeal of his 1985 conviction for masterminding a slot machine cheating ring. While on bail, he was indicted on racketeering charges by a Los Angeles grand jury.

Vaccaro is accused of dealing with alleged Los Angeles Mafia street boss Liugi Gelfuso.

Prosecutors asked the court to revoke Vaccaro’s bail and turn over bonds worth $350,000 to the federal government. Vaccaro originally was released on a $100,000 bond, but when he was convicted of slot cheating another $250,000 bond was required.

U.S. Magistrate Phyllis Halsey Atkins agreed with the government’s argument, without explanation.

Carol Power, vice president of Spencer Douglass Insurance Associates which insured the Vaccaro bond, told the court her company would refuse to write bonds for federal crimes if the ruling is upheld.

″We can’t guaranteee good behavior,″ she said.

If the ruling stands, a legal battle between Spencer Douglass Insurance and Dryer about who should pay is probable, according to Dale Murphy, lawyer for a bail bonding insurance company.

Traditionally, bail bonds have been required to guarantee a defendants’ appearance in court. Congress expanded the law in 1984 to impose other conditions on defendants, including drug tests, travel restrictions and good behavior.

While courts have upheld bond forfeitures for violations of travel restrictions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Sullivan conceded courts have yet to rule directly on whether forfeitures can be applied in cases where a defendant is accused of committing crimes while on bail.

Dryer, who didn’t appear for Tuesday’s hearing, testified Monday that he thought the bond only guaranteed that Vaccaro would appear in court.

When asked if he would have put up the bond had he known the government might have authority to seek forfeiture under some circumstances, the former Los Angeles Rams defensive end replied, ″No sir.″

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