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Why Donald Trump, a billionaire, is using a bondsman to pay his $200,000 bail in Georgia

Donald Trump arrives at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport before his arraignment on Thursday.
Donald Trump arrives at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport before his arraignment on Thursday.Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Donald Trump became the latest celebrity to use a bail bondsman after getting booked in an Atlanta jail this week.

  • Bail bondsmen charge a fee in exchange for putting up the full bail amount for their clients.

  • Celebrities will use bondsmen to avoid making mistakes when dealing with the courts, one high-profile bondsman told Insider.

Donald Trump is a billionaire business tycoon, according to Forbes' estimates, but even he became the latest celebrity to use a bail bondsman to put up the money to get him out of jail.

The reason likely has nothing to do with being short on cash.

Trump this week hired a local "bondsman to the stars" in Atlanta to cover his bail after getting booked on charges stemming from his efforts to overthrow the 2020 election in Georgia.

A bail bondsman makes money by charging a fee (usually a certain percentage of the bail amount) in exchange for putting up the full amount for their client.

Wealthy figures frequently hire bondsmen — even when they can afford to post the full amount — to make sure the process goes off without a hitch and check that they don't violate the terms of their bail, Ira Judelson, a New York-based bondsman who's represented a slew of famous clients, told Insider in an interview.

"I have skin in the game," Judelson said. "So I worry about my clients and making sure the bail process is moving along smoothly."

Mugshot of Donald Trump
A mugshot of Donald Trump taken at the Fulton County Sheriff's Office on August 24, 2023.Fulton County Sheriff's Office

Since bondsmen are on the hook for the full bail amount, they also have ways of getting the money back if a client skips out on bail.

"This is part of the business I don't love," Judelson said. "A good bondsman always secures bail with collateral or personal signatures for the individuals they represent. That way, you can go after them for the full amount of the bond if they skip bail."

And with celebrities like Trump, "most of the time, the news networks and the paparazzi always know where they are, so you know how to find them if you need to," he added.

The percentage fee that bondsmen can charge varies from state to state — in New York, it's anywhere from 6-10%. In Atlanta, where Trump was booked, it's 10 to 15%. And the higher the bail amount, typically the lower the percentage charged.

The process of posting bail also varies depending on state. In some states, defendants appear in court to post bail.

In others, like Georgia, they post bail when they get booked in jail — just like Trump did.

Correction August 25, 2023: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Donald Trump's total wealth. According to Forbes' estimate in April 2023, the former president has a net worth of $2.5 billion.

Read the original article on Business Insider