Gregory Hess
Gregory Hess

York County officials are questioning whether a York County-approved bail bondsman should have been allowed to post $10 million bond for a York-area businessman accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife's lover.

Bondsman James Fabie posted bond for Gregory Allen Hess, who was released from York County Prison just after 11 a.m. Friday, according to prison records.

The York County bail bondsman ordinance states that "the professional bail bondsman shall be permitted to write bail bonds not to exceed three (3) times his or her personal net assets."

"So unless Mr. Fabie is worth more than $3-1/2 million, he probably should not have bailed this defendant," York County Clerk of Courts Don O'Shell said. "Mr.

O’Shell
O'Shell
Fabie is on the hook for the entire $10 million if Mr. Hess doesn't show up for trial."

Came to light: O'Shell said he became aware of the issue Friday when his management team alerted him. A short time later, he was contacted by the York County District Attorney's Office, asking him whether Fabie had enough assets to cover the entire amount, he said.

O'Shell said he doesn't know the answer to that question because Fabie has not filed monthly status reports with the clerk's office this year or in 2013.

The county bail bondsman ordinance states bondsmen "shall file monthly bond status reports to the York County Clerk of Courts."

Fabie twice hung up on a reporter Friday.

District attorney's office spokesman Kyle King confirmed prosecutors are discussing the matter.

"We're certainly looking into whether or not (Fabie) should have had the ability to post (bond) in the first place," he said late Friday afternoon. "We're trying to figure that out now."

Revocation an option: If prosecutors determine Fabie doesn't have enough net assets, they have the option of filing a bail-revocation petition in York County Court, King said.

King noted prosecutors requested Hess be denied bail "because we believe him to be a danger."

Attorney Farley Holt, who represents Hess, predicted his client's bail won't be revoked.

"Let them petition the court," Holt said of prosecutors. "If the court should determine there is a problem, I believe we have a foolproof backup plan that will ensure Mr. Hess remains out on bail."

The process: O'Shell said when bail is set for a defendant, the paperwork for it is attached to the defendant's computerized York County Court file by the clerk of courts office.

When a bail bondsman wants to post bond for a defendant, he or she notifies the prison, which accesses the paperwork through the county's computer system and provides it to the bondsman, O'Shell said.

After it is filled out and the defendant is released, the completed paperwork is then sent to the clerk's office, he said.

"So we only find out after the fact," O'Shell said. "At this point, with the way it's structured, it's pretty much a self-regulating (system), which is why (bondsmen) are to file those monthly reports with us."

He said this is the first time the issue has come up during his tenure, and added that he will instruct his staff to notify his management team when bonds are posted for very high bail amounts.

The case: Hess, 46, of 1950 Hoff Road in North Codorus Township, is charged with solicitation to commit homicide.

The co-owner of Keystone Restoration & Builders Inc. is accused of paying $1,900 to a man identified in court as "Informant 1" to kill Christopher Ward, who was involved with Hess' wife, Laurie Hess.

State police set up a sting operation that included taking a photo of Ward lying in a parking lot, covered in fake blood and appearing to be dead, testimony at Hess' preliminary hearing revealed. The photo was to make Hess believe Ward had been murdered, according to testimony.

Holt said his client may have had an agreement with the informant, "but it was not to kill (anyone)."

Holt was at the prison Friday when Hess walked out and was greeted by his mother and son.

Emotional: "It was quite an emotional reunion," he said. "It put a lump in my throat. ... We moved heaven and earth to make this happen."

That's because Hess' son graduates from high school tonight, according to the attorney.

"More than anything in the world, he wanted to attend his son's graduation," Holt said.

Holt said he's been told there has never before been a $10 million bail set for a York County defendant, although he said he hasn't confirmed that.

"He (made bail) by the pure graciousness of his family and friends, who stepped up to the plate," Holt said.

O'Shell said he was told Hess' supporters provided Fabie with $100,000 so he could post the bond.

Chief deputy prosecutor David Sunday said in a statement, "We are disappointed that he was able to post bail."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.