Subsequently, Jackson temporarily lost his ability to work in St. Charles and St. Louis counties. Jackson believed that it was Cox who betrayed him.

Swears Cox: "I had nothing at all whatsoever to do with the Department of Insurance and Lee Jackson."

Whatever the case, Jackson was out for revenge, as the threatening recorded phone call in October 2005 indicated. Cox, meanwhile, claims he heard rumblings from fellow bondsmen about Jackson plotting his murder.

"[They] told me, 'He's trying to buy some explosives to blow up your fucking car. He's even offered to pay me to do it.'" Cox says. "It was getting to the point where I was putting tape on my car to make sure my hood and my doors hadn't been opened."

Eventually, Cox called the ATF to report what he'd heard about Jackson's plans. Heitzler, the agent assigned to the case, recounts in his affidavit how on September 28, 2005, he asked a bondsman acting as a confidential informant to make a recorded phone call to Jackson.

In the call, Jackson says, referring to Cox: "I should have shot him when I had the chance."

According to Heitzler's affidavit, less than a month later — on October 20, 2005 — the ATF hatched a plan to have Jackson incriminate himself. Heitzler enlisted the help of a confidential informant, later identified in court documents as a bail bondsman named Aaron Smith.

Smith got a hold of Jackson and the two made plans to meet for lunch at a restaurant called JJ's in St. Charles. After eating they drove to Cox's office and discussed how Smith would "ambush and shoot Cox after Cox watched Monday Night Football and left his business." All the while, Smith was wearing a wire.

On October 24, Jackson called Smith and told him to meet at a gas station just off state Highway 79 near St. Charles. Once there, he told him "the item" was placed in the woods just across the street.

When Jackson left, Smith found a .38 caliber nickel-plated revolver with ten rounds of ammunition wrapped in a white towel and stuffed in a brown paper bag. He turned them over to the ATF. Jackson was arrested the following day.


Virgil Lee Jackson was allowed to keep his bail bond agent's license until February 5, 2008 — six months after his plea bargain and nearly three years after his arrest. Why? According to Emily Kampeter, a Missouri Department of Insurance spokeswoman, the department's policy is that one is "innocent until proven guilty."

Because of that policy, had Jackson been freed on bond after his arrest he could still be in the business of bailing other people out of jail. But on October 27, 2005, federal prosecutors declared him "a serious risk to obstruct justice or threaten, injure or intimidate witnesses."

Two weeks later, according to a motion filed by prosecutors, Jackson, who was now being held in the St. Francois County Jail, offered another inmate $50,000 "to get rid of [the ATF's confidential informant] Aaron Smith."

Had Jackson's case not made headlines, it's possible the Department of Insurance wouldn't have known about the charges he was facing until he reapplied for a bail-bond license.

According to Kampeter, bondsmen are not required to notify the insurance department when they are arrested. "Our investigators monitor news reports and court records to track convicted bail bond agents on a regular basis," Kampeter writes in an e-mail. "The agent's fingerprints are checked every two years to monitor his or her criminal record."

In most cases, Kampeter explains, the process of a revoking a bail license begins with someone filing a complaint against a specific agent. Testimony by Heitzler about Glen Thomas Dotson, the bounty hunter employed by Jackson, shows that the problem is that not every act of impropriety gets registered as a complaint.

On June 1, 2006, Dotson, from Silex, Missouri, was arrested by the ATF at the St. Charles county jail. Dotson goes to trial next month. He is charged with providing Jackson with the pistol that would have been used to murder Cox. At a magistrate's hearing the day after his arrest, Heitzler testified about two incidents involving Dotson and Cox that the Department of Insurance had never heard about.

Heitzler described in his testimony how in July 2000, a woman named Diana Jordan skipped bond after being freed from jail by Jackson. After tracking her down, Jackson, Dotson and another bounty hunter handcuffed her and drove her to the middle of a field off of state Highway 47.

According to Heitzler's testimony, Jackson duct-taped Jordan's ankles, hands, and mouth and then slapped her across the face. He then told Jordan they were going to leave her in the field all night and drove away. The party returned a half hour later and brought Jordan to the Warren County Sheriff's Department, where officers noted that she had scratches on her face and wounds on her wrists.

Heitzler also testified that in February 2001, Jackson, Dotson and two other bounty hunters tracked down a couple, Michael and Phyllis Jeffrey, who had failed to appear in court while out on a Jackson bond in Warren County. Jackson and the bounty hunters found them and brought the couple back to a bar that Jackson's wife owned in Troy, Missouri, called Misty Nights.

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