By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
David Collins is Miami's leading bail bondsman.
David Collins has lots of friends in law enforcement.
David Collins says he's put his criminal past behind him.
In his affidavit, DosSantos states that Dana and Collins began pressing him for the money and for information about his drug contacts in other states. If he didn't come up with either, "Collins advised that my bail would be revoked and attorney Ivker would be taken off of my case." DosSantos claims that when he complained to Ivker about this, the lawyer "told me that I better comply with Collins's requests because he is a very powerful man and I should not anger him."
Scrambling for cash, DosSantos went on a week-long commercial fishing trip. The night he returned, Dana paid a visit, asking to speak privately. Waiting inside Dana's car was Joseph Pavone, a construction worker with a shaved head and pierced eyebrows. In a sworn affidavit Pavone writes, "John P. Dana requested that I accompany him to Dartmouth, Mass., for the purpose of acting as back-up in an attempt to collect a debt which Mr. DosSantos owed to David Collins. John P. Dana told me that this debt was incurred by Mr. DosSantos when David Collins hired attorney Richard Ivker to represent him in his federal case. Upon arrival at Mr. DosSantos's residence, John P. Dana began to threaten Mr. DosSantos.... He explained to Mr. DosSantos that if he did not pay, Mr. DosSantos and his family would be killed." In an attempt to buy time, DosSantos reached into his little black book and gave up the name of a marijuana contact in Tucson, Arizona. On April 3, 2000, the feds dropped all charges against him.
It appeared Collins had kept his word. Now he wanted to be paid. Under relentless pressure from Collins, DosSantos says he contacted a Miami Beach acquaintance in hopes of borrowing money. The man explained he was broke, that he'd just been robbed by someone named Joseph Alarie in a dope deal gone bad. Collins knew Alarie from New England, DosSantos writes in his affidavit, and boasted that he could get the money back: "Collins telephoned the person who committed the robbery ... and left a threatening message on his voicemail."
Apparently the threat worked. Alarie agreed to pay Collins the money, about $70,000, which would be deducted from DosSantos's debt. The Miami Beach robbery victim would also receive a cut of the payback. Not wanting to go near Alarie, DosSantos paid a friend to pick up weekly $1250 payments and deliver them to him. DosSantos then gave the money to Collins, who was staying in Rhode Island at the time. (Alarie and DosSantos's friend later were arrested. Records show that in separate interviews with FBI agents, they identified Collins by name and confirmed his payback scheme.)
Not long after his friend's arrest, DosSantos states in his affidavit, "Collins advised that if I did not pay him $200,000 then I would be arrested within six months." This time, though, the charges would come back in a more serious form -- part of a continuing criminal enterprise. By then, DosSantos says, he had paid Collins $65,000 and simply couldn't come up with cash any faster. So he stopped paying altogether.
In June 2001 the feds arrested DosSantos on the same drug charges as before, only this time, as foretold, they were listed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise, which carries far more severe penalties.
DosSantos's allegations have opened a Pandora's box for authorities and provided a treasure trove of information for other defendants, Joseph Pavone among them. Pavone was arrested in October 2001 on federal conspiracy charges in a matter unrelated to DosSantos. But very much like DosSantos's legal woes, Collins got involved. In a jailhouse telephone interview, Pavone told New Times that not only did Collins know he was going to be indicted before the information became public, but that Collins claimed he could "make it go away completely for $125,000."
Pavone ended up using attorneys connected to Collins, including Richard Ivker. "J.D. [John Dana] would tell me: 'You got to tell us everything about the case so we can tell the lawyer,'" Pavone said. It wasn't until he bumped into DosSantos at a Rhode Island prison that he learned of Collins's alleged connection to the feds and the implications for his own case. The coincidental encounter provided a bit of grim humor for the two men. The only other time they'd met was when Pavone had been hired to threaten DosSantos inside a car.
Pavone is now filing a motion to dismiss the charges against him based on Collins's involvement in his case. (Another man, Patrick Vigneau, convicted in an unrelated case in Rhode Island, is making the same claims in court documents, and is basing his appeal on them.)
According to David Collins, he has never met Arlindo DosSantos or Joseph Pavone, and the incidents alleged simply never happened. Besides, he maintains, he was too busy starting up his fledgling Miami bail business to run around New England threatening people. In fact business was brisk and about to get a lot busier. In 2001, right around the time DosSantos was rearrested, Collins leaped beyond being a mere bond hound when Seneca Insurance Company hired him as its managing general agent for all of Florida, a job that entails contracting with bondsmen to bring him their business.