(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - A bond reduction hearing should be allowed for a southeast Indiana restaurant owner held on a $3 million bond, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.
Last September, Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurant owner Adolfo Lopez was arrested on charges of Corrupt Business Influence, Conspiracy to Commit Corrupt Business Influence, and Forgery – a total of 10 felony charges – for allegedly falsifying tax forms for employees and not reporting cash sales to the state.
More than 100 other people, mostly employees of the restaurants, saw their charges dismissed in June. Only Lopez's brother Benito Lopez still faces similar charges.
Lopez has been in jail since his arrest on a $3 million surety plus $250,000 cash bond set in Dearborn Circuit Court. He motioned for a lower bond in October, but the Judge James D. Humphrey denied the motion the following month.
Lopez appealed the denial and on Monday the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in his favor.
“Finding the bond excessive, we conclude that the trial court abused its discretion when it denied the motion for reduction. Therefore, we reverse and remand,” Appeals Judge Terry A. Crone wrote in the decision.
Crone references Article 1 of the Indiana Constitution, which prohibits excessive bail defined as an amount higher than reasonably calculated to ensure the accused person’s presence in court.
The ruling pointed to Lopez’s defense’s arguments for a lower bond. The 43-year-old U.S. citizen is an 18 year resident of Dearborn County; married 15 years with two children in local schools; no criminal record; and his passport has been seized.
“He has a long and stable employment history, but his assets have been seized, severely limiting his ability to post bail,” stated Crone.
The appeals court did recognize prosecutors’ arguments against a motion to reduce. Lopez’s alleged business practices at the restaurants he owned or co-owned in Dearborn, Ripley, and Ohio counties did not reflect favorably on his character. A possible prison sentence of six years and Lopez’s past frequent visits to Mexico were legitimate concerns he could flee the country.
However, the Court of Appeals was “troubled” by the court not considering another factor – Lopez’s seized assets preventing him from posting the “extraordinarily high bail.”
“While the State asserts that it is ‘reasonable to assume’ that Lopez’s brothers, who continue to operate restaurants outside the jurisdiction, can procure the necessary funds to satisfy the bond or that Lopez himself likely ‘has access to large funds outside of this jurisdiction,’ while possibly true, such speculation is not supported by evidence in the record,” Crone wrote.
The appeals judges order the Humphrey to set Lopez’s bond at a reasonable amount.
A jury trial for Adolfo Lopez and co-defendant Benito Lopez, the brother owned or co-owned some of the Acapulco restaurants with Adolfo, is scheduled for June 3 in Dearborn Circuit Court.