Judge revokes pretrial release for veteran bail bondsman embroiled in multiple cases

At the federal courthouse, Charles McChesney is earning a reputation as the bad boy bail bondsman.

The indicted bail enforcement officer found himself in court Tuesday accused of beating his wife, lying to the judge who released him and strong-arming his clients.

By the time the government stopped pounding away at the veteran enforcer, the judge who had given him his freedom had little choice but to revoke his pretrial release.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Peggy Leen ordered McChesney, 48, to remain behind bars while he awaits a March 3 trial on federal conspiracy and fraud charges in the massive scheme to take over homeowners associations around the valley. He is alleged to have been the “muscle” in the scheme.

Justice Department prosecutor Charles La Bella told Leen that McChesney has an “anger issue” that makes him a “danger to the community.”

FBI Agent Mike Elliott, the lead investigator in the long-running HOA investigation, testified that McChesney’s wife, Michelle, considers him a “monster.”

Elliott testified the wife told him that McChesney earlier this year choked and battered her a couple of times and threatened to stuff her in the trunk of a car he planned to set on fire.

Michelle McChesney had filed previous domestic violence complaints against her husband, but the charges were dismissed because she was afraid to cooperate with prosecutors, Elliott testified.

This time, prosecutors said, she recorded one of her husband’s fits of rage against her on a cellphone and turned it over to the FBI. La Bella gave Leen a transcript in court.

Leen called what McChesney did “extremely alarming” and said it was one of the worst kinds of domestic violence because it often leads to murder.

But Leen also wasn’t happy to hear that McChesney had duped his defense lawyer, James Oronoz, into providing her with false information that persuaded her to allow McChesney in January to carry a gun at a firearms class he taught.

As it turns out, La Bella told Leen, the FBI learned that McChesney was banned from teaching the class in 2010.

Leen did not fault Oronoz, who insisted in court that he didn’t deliberately mislead her. She concluded the attorney acted properly based on what his client had told him.

That caused McChesney, dressed in jail garb and chains, to shake his head in disgust at the defense table.

When Leen asked McChesney whether he had anything to say, McChesney responded, “I’m not overwhelmed with what’s been said here today.”

Leen recessed the hearing for about an hour to allow McChesney and Oronoz to confer in private.

When they returned to court, Oronoz told the magistrate his client had nothing more to say.

What sealed the deal for Leen to keep McChesney behind bars was his May arrest by state investigators in connection with allegations of a scheme to rob and extort a female client he claimed owed him money.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Nevada attorney general’s office, McChesney and another bail bondsman, John Kevin McCabe, broke down the door of the woman’s home in January 2011 and held her and her three children at gunpoint while they rummaged through the home.

The two men are alleged to have taken personal property, including a laptop computer and the woman’s 2006 Monte Carlo.

At the time of his arrest, McChesney was trying to persuade Leen to allow him to carry a weapon on the job to protect himself in “dangerous situations.”

Leen denied the request.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.