A short time ago, Manny Periu was one of Broward County's brashest bail bondsmen, as you can see in this Juice post from August 13. But documents in the felony case against Periu allege that he brokered $3,000 in cocaine deals with undercover federal agents.
And now an ex-boss is telling the same story as another former boss, alleging that Periu extorted cash from the bail jumpers he was supposed to be hauling into court.
According to the probable cause affidavit on file with the Broward County Clerk of Court, Drug Enforcement Agency investigators targeted Periu and an alleged partner, Emilio Alfonso, in early 2009, based on tips the pair were dealing cocaine and meth.
An undercover buy was set up on February 20, 2009, at the unlikely location of Fort Lauderdale's Rustic Inn, the seafood restaurant on Ravenswood Road. The affidavit alleges that Periu told the undercover agent that Alfonso would sell two ounces of cocaine for $2,000. Shortly after Periu met the buyer in the Rustic Inn parking lot, Alfonso arrived to deliver the two ounces of cocaine, which was in a plastic cup, according to the affidavit.
The next buy was coordinated through the Sunrise and Plantation police departments, in concert with the DEA, just two weeks ago, on August 11. This time, the alleged deal took place in front of a home on Southwest 56th Avenue in Plantation, with Periu hopping in the passenger seat of a car driven by a confidential source, with whom he allegedly traded an ounce of cocaine for $1,000.
That's when Periu was arrested. The document doesn't offer any clues as to why investigators took 1 1/2 years to circle back to Periu.
A.J. Williams, of Big Trouble Bail Bonds in Fort Lauderdale, knew that Periu had a drug problem -- Periu's arrest for possession of ecstasy in late 2008 is what brought an end to his employment with Williams. But when Williams heard of Periu's latest arrest, "I thought, 'Holy shit!' He went from being a junkie to being a dealer."
Prior to being hired by Williams in 2008, Periu had developed a reputation in the bondsman community as a wild card. It was known that he'd been fired from Aabott & Cathy Bail Bonds after his boss claimed to have caught him accepting money from a fugitive he'd been responsible for hunting down.
"I heard all the horror stories," says Williams. "But I wanted to give the guy a chance." Even if those incredible allegations were true, Williams assumed Periu was eager to repair his damaged reputation.
But before long, Williams was having the exact same problems. Periu would go out to hunt a bail jumper and come back empty-handed. "He would catch people, but if they had any money, he'd tell them to pay him," says Williams. "Later, after I caught (the fugitive), he'd say, 'Why are you hassling me? I already paid Manny.'"
Of course, the stunt that Periu will always be known for in the industry is ferrying around a bank robber in July 2008, claiming to CBS4 that he thought the man was making a conventional withdrawal, not robbing the bank. It brings a chuckle from Williams. "I swear this guy tried every trick in the book."
Bondsman like Periu are the exception, not the rule, says Williams. It takes discipline to keep a career in that line of work -- more discipline than Periu had, it seems. "You're around it so much," says Williams, of the criminal element. "It's a real fine line; the temptation is there every day. Manny, he just went rogue."