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Freedom gone in a flush
Inmate accused of stealing bondsmans money, trying to flush some of it
WEB 0215 Robert Brigdon
Robert Brigdon

A Liberty County Jail inmate who would have been bonded out Friday now faces additional charges after he allegedly tried to steal thousands of dollars from the bail bondsman who came to his rescue.

Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Matthew Marchand said he was dispatched Friday to the county jail on Paul Sikes Drive in Hinesville regarding a missing bag that reportedly contained more than $2,500. According to Marchand’s report, the bondsman, James R. Welch of Fussell Bonding Company, told the deputy he was in the process of bonding out Robert Brigdon, 20, of Midway, who was being held on a narcotics charge that included obstructing an officer, when Welch realized the bag containing the bond money was missing from his briefcase.

Welch and Brigdon had been sitting at a table in the jail’s booking area, the bondsman said. After finishing some paper work, Welch got up and walked to the booking desk, leaving his open briefcase on the table with the money bag inside.

When he returned, he said, Brigdon already had been taken by jail personnel to a holding area to change from his jail jumpsuit into street clothes. Welch checked his briefcase, noticed the money bag was missing and notified jail personnel.

Authorities confronted Brigdon, who initially denied taking the money, according to Marchand’s report. In a telephone interview Monday, Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jim Chapman, who is investigating the case, said Brigdon eventually pulled out some money he had hidden up his sleeve and turned it over to jail personnel. When authorities asked the inmate whether he’d given them all the missing money, Chapman said, Brigdon tried to flush the empty money bag and $350 down a toilet.

Chapman, who interrogated Brigdon, said the inmate later admitted he had taken the money bag out of Welch’s briefcase, stuffed it in the leg of his prison jumpsuit and tucked his pants leg into his shoe so the bag wouldn’t fall out. Brigdon told the detective he’d been playing a joke and he intended to return the money after he was released.

According to the report, Brigdon’s bond was revoked, and he was arrested on one count of felony theft by taking and one count of tampering with evidence, stemming from the attempted money flushing.

On Saturday, Brigdon appeared before a magistrate judge, who set his bond at $10,000 for each count, for a $20,000 cash bond.

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