Court TV: Hollywood Heat-Superstar's Bondsman

As seen on Hollywood Heat on November 18, 2004. Josh Herman Bail Bonds 3rd generation bondsman to Hollywood elite. See a day in the life of Josh Herman. When celebrities go to jail, who bails them out? Meet Josh Herman, whose grandmother started this family business. He’s put up the money to get stars such as Robert Downey, Jr and several rap artists out of the slammer.

 

Newsweek Magazine

Photo by Michael Grecco - Sygma
Friends in low places:Herman at L.A. city hall

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Josh Herman News Week for Josh Herman Bail Bonds

Bringing the
Loot 24/7

He's the bail bondsman of
choice for jailed rap stars
_____________________

By Tara Weingarten and
Sarah Van Boven
Newsweek Magazine Dec 1, 1997

ASK JOSH HERMAN IF HE CAN remember the moment he realized he was a success, and the burly 26-year-old doesn't hesitate. It was Feb 21 1996 the night he attended his client Snoop Doggy Dogg's party at Monty's restaurant in Los Angeles, a celebration of Snoop's acquittal on murder charges. Handed a bottle of Cristal champagne as he entered the rooftop eatery, the white boy straight outta middle-class West L.A. strolled over to chat with rapper Tupac Shakur and producer Suge Knight. Surveying the many rap stars munching on filet mignon and lobster, Herman realized, as he tells the tale, that "everyone in there was out on one of my bail bonds."

Among the cast of thousands of agents, attorneys, personal assistants and other staffers who keep L.A. celebrities in the money and out of trouble, Herman has created a lucrative role: bail bondsman to the hiphop stars. Even though rappers are less than half of his prosperous bond business, Herman has made more than $500,000 over the past few years springing the big names from jail, bundling them into his Mercedes (license plate; BAIL 4 u) and driving them straight to the studio or video set. He estimates he's posted bond for rap artists "at least 100 times," promising to pay the full bail if a client skips town--and pocketing 10 percent of that amount as his fee. Herman says he made $50,000 in commissions from Tupac alone; Shakur was out on one of Herman's bonds when he was kilied last year in Las Vegas.

How did Herman land such an odd gig? Pure nepotism cut with street smarts. His grandmother started the family bail-bond business in the 1940s; father Mark Herman spent the '7Os and `80s rescuing stars like Ike Tinner from the slammer. In 1990, when record-industry attorney David Kenner called Mark Herman to go rescue rapper Eazy-E, Dad decided 19-year-old Josh was ready to drive on down to the jail. Josh even got a little bonus; on Eazy-E's next album, one track had lyrics about being freed from a Compton jail by a bondsman. "He didn't mention me by name," Herman says modestly. But the reference certainly made for a good reference.

Kenner, who represents Death Row Records and supplies Herman with many of his celebrity clients, is impressed with Herman's work ethic. "He's there when you need him," says Kenner. Herman knows he has to be available 24/7: "If I'm at dinner and I get beeped, I'm leaving. If I'm out of the country, I'm coming home." And neither Josh nor his father sees any downside to spending so much time around accused felons. "I don't really worry too much about him," says Dad. "He's got a license to carry a concealed gun."

Besides, says Herman, having famous a customers gives him an advantage. While other bondsmen wait for calls from cons flipping through the Yellow Pages, Herman is beeped by record-company lawyers. And the best part (besides the parties) is that he doesn't have to worry about a client like Dr. Dre's fleeing the country and forfeiting Herman's bail money. For one thing, he says, "Where are they going to go and not be recognized?" Plus, "Snoop is probably worth $100 million to Death Row," he says. "That record company is going to make sure he's in that courtroom."

 

December 1, 1997

Los Angeles Times

Stars' Bail Bondsman Is Soul of Discretion; Celebrity: Josh Herman has gained fame through clients like Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre. But he won't divulge names of most of his high-profile clients.:[Bulldog Edition]
DEBORAH HASTINGS. The Los Angeles Times. (Record edition). Los Angeles, Calif.: Feb 8, 1998. pg. 35

Josh Herman, bail bondsman to the stars, is barreling down the Santa Monica Freeway in his big green truck to meet a man named Bubba.

Bubba. Not rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg. Not one of Herman's other celebrity clients whose names he safeguards like a family secret.

"You don't want to mess with Bubba," says Herman, who has the unnerving ability to drive, bark into a cell phone and read court documents all at once.

Charles "Bub" Flowers, according to his business card, is an investigator. He's a nice guy. But if you skip on a Herman bail bond, Bubba is the man who comes after you. And Herman is looking for a missing client.

Bubba is big. He has a gun. And he isn't always nice.

In Herman's universe, musclemen, bounty hunters and career felons coexist with hip-hop artists, Hollywood producers and movie stars.

Until recently, Herman lived in obscurity, which is the way he and his well-known clients liked it. Then Newsweek ran a little story about "the bail bondsman of choice for jailed rap stars." Now Herman has a Hollywood manager to handle callers professing interest in book, TV and film deals.

That's Hollywood. "Jackie Brown," Quentin Tarantino's new movie featuring a bail bondsman, is hot. So, by the logic of show biz, Herman is hot.

His manager envisions a TV series. Fast cars and fetching women? "Yeah," says Herman, who is 6 feet 3 and tops 200 pounds.

"But Bubba and I couldn't both fit in a Ferrari."

Herman says he finds the hype surreal and silly. That doesn't explain why someone who claims to hate hype hires a manager to stir it up.

"I don't know why," he says. Then he laughs.

Perhaps he is just used to peculiar characters. This is a man who gets people out of jail for a living and counts some as friends.

"There's nothing wrong with them. They've just been to jail," he says.

In his eight-year career, Herman has written thousands of bonds pledging to pay the entire bail if a defendant fails to appear in court. His fee is 10% of the bail amount.

He has built a client list--mostly from referrals of criminal attorneys and record company lawyers--that is about 70% celebrities, he says.

A middle-class white guy from West Los Angeles, Herman, 26, learned the business from his father, Mark, and grandmother, Flo. Mark bailed out Black Panther leaders and musician Ike Turner.

"My grandmother was tough," says Josh Herman. "And she didn't drive. She'd say 'You need a bond? Come get me.' "

Now father and son work together. Their toll free number: 1-800-7Get-Me-Out.

Josh Herman won't say how much he earns. He has a Beverly Hills office but never uses it. He works out of his truck or his Mercedes-Benz, driving from court to court, jail to jail, constantly answering his beeper and cell phone. He is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He divulges the identities of rapper clients Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre, he says, because they don't mind talking about their well-publicized brushes with the law.

"Look," Herman says, "I do a lot of famous people, not just the rappers. Movie people, TV people, you name it. But I can't talk about those people. I'd lose my business."

Beverly Hills attorney Jeffrey Brodey handles wealthy clients and high-profile murder cases. He uses the Hermans to bail out his clients.

They are "very different," Brodey says, from "scummier" bondsmen.

"I'm looking for somebody who's going to be there right away, who treats my clients with a velvet glove," Brodey says, seated behind a marble desk in his high-rise office.

"Josh will pick up somebody from jail and bring them home. That's just unheard of."

Tupac Shakur is one other client Herman will discuss. The rapper and film star died in 1996, six days after being shot on the Las Vegas Strip. His killer hasn't been caught.

"Tupac was a good friend, and a good guy," says Herman.

Dead at 25, Shakur lived a scarred life of fighting, shootings and prison sentences that filled his gangsta rap lyrics.

Many of Herman's bonds involve assault and drug charges.

"If they're rappers, they're beating somebody up," Herman says. "If they're rock stars, it's heroin."

Famous people rarely skip bail. It isn't that easy for them to fade into the woodwork or blend into a crowd. About 3% of the others do, Herman said. That's when he calls Bubba.

Herman often goes with him, taking the .40-caliber Glock handgun he is licensed to carry. Bondsmen and their agents have broad arrest powers. They don't need warrants. A person who signs a bail bond contract agrees he is subject to seizure if he fails to appear in court.

If the job is big--say, the fugitive has well-armed friends--Herman calls in his bounty hunter, who assembles his own well-armed friends.

"Look," says Herman, "This is all I know. I'm my own boss. There is action. I like action."

PHOTO: Bail bondsman Josh Herman, 26, walks his talk in a corridor of the Beverly Hills Municipal Court.; PHOTOGRAPHER: REED SAXON / Associated Press

Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

The Miami Herald

BAIL BONDSMAN OF CHOICE FOR STARS \ HYPE TURNS PROFESSIONAL INTO HOLLYWOOD COMMODITY
DEBORAH HASTINGS Associated Press
Josh Herman, bail bondsman to the stars, is barreling down the Santa Monica Freeway in his green truck to meet a man named Bubba.

Bubba. Not rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg. Not one of Herman's other celebrity clients whose names he safeguards like a family secret.

You don't want to mess with Bubba,'' says Herman, who has the unnerving ability to read court documents, bark into a cell phone and drive -- all at once.

Charles ``Bub'' Flowers, according to his business card, is an investigator. He's a nice guy. But if you skip on a Herman bail bond, Bubba is the man who comes after you. And Herman is looking for a missing client.

Bubba is big. He has a gun. And he isn't always nice.

In Herman's universe, musclemen, bounty hunters and career felons co-exist with hip-hop artists, Hollywood producers and movie stars.

Lived in the shadows

Until recently, Herman lived in obscurity, which is how he and his well-known clients liked it. Then Newsweek ran a little story about ``the bail bondsman of choice for jailed rap stars.'' Now Herman has a Hollywood manager to handle callers professing interest in book, TV and film deals.

That's Hollywood. Jackie Brown, Quintin Tarantino's newest movie featuring a bail bondsman, is hot. So by the logic of show biz, Herman is hot.

His manager envisions a TV series. Fast cars and fetching women? ``Yeah,'' says Herman, who is 6-feet-3 and tops 200 pounds.

``But Bubba and I couldn't both fit in a Ferrari.''

Herman says he finds the hype surreal and silly. That doesn't explain why someone who claims to hate hype hires a manager to stir it up.

``I don't know why,'' he says. Then he laughs.

Perhaps he is just used to peculiar characters. This is a man who gets people out of jail for a living and counts some as friends.

``There's nothing wrong with them. They've just been to jail,'' he says.

In his eight-year career, Herman has written thousands of bonds pledging to pay the entire bail if a defendant fails to appear in court. His fee is 10 percent of the bail amount.

70 percent celebrities

He has built a client list -- mostly from referrals of criminal attorneys and record company lawyers -- that is about 70 percent celebrities, he says.

A middle-class guy from West Los Angeles, Herman, 26, learned the business from his father, Mark, and grandmother, Flo. Mark bailed out Black Panther leaders and musician Ike Turner.

``My grandmother was tough,'' says Josh Herman. ``And she didn't drive. She'd say `You need a bond? Come get me.' ''

Now father and son work together. Their toll-free number: 1 (800) 7Get-Me-Out.

Josh Herman won't say how much he earns. He has a Beverly Hills office but never uses it. He works out of his truck, or his Mercedes-Benz, driving from court to court, jail to jail, constantly answering his beeper and cell phone. He is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

He divulges the identities of rapper clients Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre, he says, because they don't mind talking about their well-publicized brushes with the law.

``Look,'' Herman says, ``I do a lot of famous people, not just the rappers. Movie people, TV people, you name it. But I can't talk about those people. I'd lose my business.''

`Velvet gloves'

Beverly Hills attorney Jeffrey Brodey handles very wealthy clients and high-profile murder cases. He uses the Hermans to bail out his clients.

They are ``very different,'' Brodey says, from ``scummier'' bondsmen.

``I'm looking for somebody who's going to be there right away, who treats my clients with a velvet glove,'' Brodey says, seated behind a marble desk in his high-rise office.

``Josh will pick up somebody from jail and bring them home. That's just unheard of.''

Tupac Shakur is one other client Herman will discuss. The rapper and film star died in 1996, six days after being shot on the Las Vegas Strip. His killer hasn't been caught.

``Tupac was a good friend, and a good guy,'' says Herman.

Dead at 25, Shakur lived a scarred life of fighting, shootings and prison sentences that filled his gangsta rap lyrics.

Many of Herman's bonds involve assault and drug charges.

``If they're rappers, they're beating somebody up,'' Herman says. ``If they're rock stars, it's heroin.''

Calling Bubba

Famous people rarely skip bail. It isn't that easy for them to fade into the woodwork or blend into a crowd. About three percent of the others do, Herman said. That's when he calls Bubba.

Herman often goes with him, taking the .40-caliber Glock handgun he is licensed to carry. Bondsmen and their agents have broad arrest powers. They don't need warrants. A person who signs a bail-bond contract agrees he is subject to seizure if he fails to appear in court.

If the job is big -- say the fugitive has well-armed friends -- Herman calls in his bounty hunter, who assembles his own well-armed friends.

``Look,'' says Herman, ``This is all I know. I'm my own boss. There is action. I like action.''

Illustration:photo: Josh Herman talking with Charles `Bub' Flowers (BAIL
BOND)

 

 

London Sunday Times
Feb 15, 1998
Cell mate;Interview;Josh Herman
CHRIS GOODWIN
FEATURES

When Hollywood's finest get into trouble, they call Josh Herman, bondsman to
the stars. But woe betide those who skip bail, as CHRIS GOODWIN reports.

Josh Herman is not the kind of guy to make moral judgments about his Hollywood clients - he wouldn't have much work if he did - but there is one thing he stipulates before he'll do business with anyone: they must be in the slammer. Not on some two-bit drink- driving charge - Herman won't even get out of bed for that - but for murder, assault with a deadly weapon, rape or a serious drugs charge, especially if they're a celebrity.

Then Herman will drop whatever he's doing, wherever he happens to be. Josh Herman is bail bondsman to the stars.

Here's the deal. You're a well-known movie star and you've just been caught on Santa Monica Boulevard with a gun, 2oz of Bolivian marching powder and a transvestite hooker. After the cops charge you, the court agrees to release you on bail of, say, $100,000.

Perhaps you just don't have that kind of cash lying around at home on a wet Saturday night in February. Perhaps you don't feel comfortable asking the wife to come and bail you out when it's the nanny's night off. So you call Josh Herman, a beefy 26-year-old who packs a .40-calibre Glock handgun, and talks like the dialogue coach on a Quentin Tarantino movie.

If he agrees to be your bail bondsman, Herman stumps up 10% of that $100,000 bail to the court on your behalf and, before you can say "O J Simpson", you're a free man.

There are just two catches: Herman charges you 10% of whatever he puts up and, if you're dumb enough to leave town or fail to turn up for your court appearance, he forfeits the whole $100,000. Which could mean trouble for you.

"If you skip on me I will do every f***ing thing I can to find you," says Herman quietly. "You are not going to get away from me. That's just the reality. I am going to find you and I am going to drag your ass back to jail." If the "skip" is someone Herman knows, he goes after them himself. "They're gonna see me at the door with handcuffs, that's for sure," he says. "It's a little personal to me."

If he doesn't know the person, Herman sends his muscle, Bubba. "Bubba is huge," says Herman, "and mean-looking. If I ask him to do something for me he'll do it."

These days, 70% of Herman's work involves celebrities. "If we bail out someone famous," says Herman, "it's a done deal, it's easy. Where they gonna go? You tell me." He's right. Not only are celebrities just too recognisable to skip, but they're worth far too much money to their record companies, studios, lawyers and agents to be allowed to.

Herman's confidentiality agreements prevent him from naming most of his clients, who include some of Hollywood's best- known figures, but he will hint. "I've dealt with the biggest actor in Hollywood, I mean the biggest, and nobody knows he went to jail," Herman discloses.

"It was kept out of the papers. When I got to the jail, he was sitting there with a coat over his head. Even my file doesn't have his real name on it." Herman has a special fondness for rap stars. You can understand why. They are great business for him. His toll-free number, 1-800-7GET-ME-OUT, is on the cell-phone speed dial of every rap artist in Los Angeles. He is virtually the in-house bail bondsman for Death Row records, the leading rap label, and counts the late Tupac Shakur, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and former Death Row chairman Suge Knight not just as clients, but as friends.

Despite their reputations, they are, he insists, good people. What of Shakur, who served time for rape and gun possession, and died in a hail of bullets in Las Vegas in 1996? "As friendly as could be."

And Knight, now serving eight years for assault with a baseball bat? "Suge never does anything but nice things for me, my family and a million other families out there, including giving away turkeys on Thanksgiving." But then Herman was brought up with a soft spot for those who prefer to live by their own rather than society's rules.

It started with his grandmother, Flo, who began the family's bail-bond business in the 1940s, getting mafia men out of jail.

"She was 5ft tall, weighed 70lb, was wafer thin, and smoked like a chimney," Herman remembers fondly. "And she was mean." Every Friday night Flo would have a card game. "She'd have cat burglars and armed robbers playing with her," he recalls.

"I'd be sitting there watching TV and the biggest fence in LA would be there, mafia guys, just about everybody. It was a different time. People were friendly, they were happy, and at night they would go out and rob people. That's just the way it was."

During the 1960s Herman's father became a bondsman too, doing a lot of business with the marijuana cartels then operating in California, the Black Panthers, and some rock and soul stars, including Ike Turner. So it was only natural that Herman went into the business when he was 19. On his first day he had to pick up a heroin dealer in east LA. Soon after that his dad sent him off to bail out rapper Eazy-E, which is how he got into the celebrity game.

"You learn how to determine what type of person somebody is in 30 seconds on the phone," he says. "I'm not saying that there are people out there who are not strange or dangerous, but I make my own choices."

Following the release of Tarantino's Jackie Brown, in which Robert Forster plays a bail bondsman, Hollywood is now sniffing round him to see if his life story could make a movie. Herman, however, remains steadfastly unimpressed by their approaches.

"You might think I deal with some slimy people in my business," he says, "but I'll tell you this: these Hollywood people are a whole lot worse than the guys I deal with. A whole lot worse."