Rob and Maria at Freeport Bar and Grill for her birthday in January wearing BailCo shirts. (Photo by Joe B. Carrasco, courtesy of BailCo)

These Newlyweds Will Bail You Out

BailCo owners Rob and Maria Juarez say the sacrifices are worth it in the business of bail bonds

Back Web Only Jun 18, 2024 By Helen Harlan

Most couples spend their first wedding anniversary celebrating with a nice dinner or maybe a weekend away. Maria and Rob Juarez, the married team behind BailCo Bail Bonds, spent theirs in the San Joaquin County Jail. Like crime, their job never stops.

“We’re pedal to the metal right now,” Rob says.

Skipping things that are important to other people, like holidays and wedding anniversaries, doesn’t seem to bother Maria and Rob too much.

“I don’t get too hung up on the holidays. We always have a good time. When you have a fulfilling and loving life, every day is a celebration. I don’t feel like we’re missing out,” Maria, 41, says.

But still, the reality is that their job is go, go, go. The phone is always on, and they often miss out on what many of us take for granted: a good night’s sleep.

“If I get home at 8 or 9 at night and run, take a shower and jump in bed, even if I get like three hours of sleep, and the phone rings at midnight, I’m all right,” Rob, 53, says. “I get back here at 4 a.m. and maybe catch another four hours’ sleep. And then go again, somewhere else. It’s 24/7, pretty much.”

Maria and Rob are the managers at BailCo. They are bail bondsmen — or bondspeople. And they’re the ones you call when you’re in trouble. 

“I have friends, I tell them, ‘Look, you go to jail, you got my number,’” says Robert Angel Corona Jr., 22. “From there, we’ll bail you out for a certain fee. That’s roughly what we do.”

Corona, 22, is a recent UC Merced grad and current first-year law student at UC Davis. He is also Maria’s son, who most people call Angel but Rob calls “Bobby C.” Angel is an administrative assistant for BailCo. He handles legal paperwork, collections, small claims and interacting with sheriffs. He is a licensed bail agent, which means he can bail you out — until he gets his law degree and passes the State Bar of California.

“An attorney cannot be a bail agent,” Angel says. “It’s a conflict of interest, and there are ethical concerns.”

Angel lives and works out of the family home in south Sacramento, which is, for now, BailCo HQ. The living room is the hub, with the family TV connected to four surveillance cameras set up outside the house. “We don’t really watch TV,” Rob says.

Alyah Delgado, 20, sits in an office in one corner and goes back and forth to a scanner by the door to the backyard. She helps out here part-time as an admin assistant. Delgado is busy — when she’s not here, she is a part-time anthropology student at Sacramento City College, and she is Rob’s granddaughter. Delgado has been to jail once as part of her work for BailCo. “There were some interesting people there,” she says.

Everyone in the BailCo core team is family. “We don’t trust anybody,” Rob says. “This is no joke. Everybody contributes in this house. We never stop. I don’t like random people hanging out. That’s why my granddaughter’s here, and Angel — until we’re ready to open up a little bit more.”

They have a few people they trust when they need to outsource a quick job, but they have no deputy to take over when Maria and Rob want to take time off. But, again, to them, it’s worth it.

“Right now we’re focusing the build on working hard and pushing through the tired feelings and making the sacrifices for our futures, our children, being able to help our families,” Rob says, “It has a lot of advantages that outweigh the tiredness.”

BailCo’s early advertising in 2021: A banner and their 2020 Honda Accord outside of the San Joaquin County Jail. (Photo courtesy of BailCo)

BailCo started in 2020 as a sole proprietor under Maria’s name. Rob and Maria say that starting during the pandemic ended up being a plus because business was slow. 

“It gave us a chance to really pound the pavement on all the details that surround the administration piece,” Maria says. “Really get the name, build the logo. Get a credit card processor. Even that was complicated. I had A-1 credit. We started with a $10,000-a-month limit and set up Venmo, CashApp and Zelle. All the different payment methods mean we can be more diverse.”

Rob is grateful for mentors who helped them through the growing pains. “We learned a lot during those COVID times. We learned a lot from people who were willing to give us those diamonds here and there,” Rob says. “It’s a 24-hour business, for them to take that little bit of time to answer the phone, they wanted to see us win, to see us succeed in this.”

Rob’s mantra is “The game is to be sold, not told,” and he says it often. It means: Do it. Don’t talk about it. And the Juarez family is certainly doing it. 

Maria and Rob met over two decades ago at a party through mutual friends. They reconnected in 2018 on Facebook and met up at Tower Cafe for lunch. The lunch lasted five hours.

Rob was already in the bail bond business, but he felt he was being underused. And along came Maria. “Maybe we can partner up?” Maria says. And so they did, in business and life. Although that last part they like to keep to themselves.

“We don’t disclose that we are married,” Maria says. “But clients figure it out.”

In addition to BailCo, Maria works full-time for the state. She says working two jobs doesn’t impact her, other than being tired. “But I’m invested,” she says. “I don’t want to stop.”

Rob says he spends most of his work hours in his two cars: A 2020 Honda Accord and a 1959 Metropolitan Nash. Both are covered in the BailCo logo, which Rob designed. He is also an artist, painting acrylic canvases in his studio in their garage and designing tattoos, including the seven he’s covered in.

“l love the logo. It took a long time to sculpt that thing. I call it hammering and chiseling the sculpture. I feel like we nailed it. It’s the face of our company. It puts us in a position to look like one of the bigger fish in the game,” Rob says.

And it’s working. The cars are great advertising. 

“That car goes crazy,” Rob says. “That car’s known all down Highway 5, everywhere.”

It’s tempting to ask Rob what he listens to in his mobile office, like music or podcasts, or whether he just enjoys the solace of driving alone. Nope. He’s still always working. 

“There’s a lot of hardships I deal with in the car, from looking for people for various reasons, collecting on debts, skip tracing, not being able to use the bathroom. And then there’s a whole administrative side that never ends,” Rob says. “We stay putting out fires because there’s a lot of time-sensitive matters we deal with and every case is unique. So there’s no blueprint.”

So, what exactly is a “case,” then?

“If you’re in jail for some issue, we don’t judge. Depending on what it is you did, the amount you have to pay scales, of course. We, for a certain fee, basically get you out. And during the time you are out, we make sure you go to court and through the legal process until you end up getting a judgment,” Angel says. “That’s roughly what we do.”

Maria and Angel at Angel’s UC Merced college graduation in 2023. (Photo by Robert Juarez, courtesy of BailCo)

BailCo’s fee is 10 percent. “Bail bonds typically range from $500 to up to the millions, depending on the case. That’s probably the lowest we’ve seen locally, and the highest I have seen personally is $2 million,” Maria says. “We’re pretty conservative with who we do business with. ‘Only the rich people get bail’; that’s a misconception.”

So who won’t they bail out then?

“High risk,” Rob says. “People with no jobs, drug addicts, people with no stability, prostitutes, pimps, car thieves. If their mama won’t co-sign, why would I?”

Remaining neutral and not judging is key.

“There are times when it could be a girlfriend-boyfriend situation. You don’t know the whole get-down. And sometimes the charges aren’t as bad as what they sound like,” Maria says.

So what’s the biggest misconception of what BailCo does?

“We’re not ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter,’” Rob says. “We don’t go kicking down doors.”

But they could. Sort of. If a customer skips on bail, “We have to skip trace, find you and then bring you into custody,” Maria says. “If we can’t, we’re on the hook for the whole thing.”

Rob and Maria hold a “fugitive recovery license” and carry their credentials at all times. When they go after a “skip,” they have to notify the police that they’re doing surveillance on the individual.

So what do these newlyweds do to wind down? When they have the time, the same thing most people do: Get a nice meal together. Often, that’s at Freeport Bar and Grill, where they went recently on a Saturday night after a sunset drive along the Delta.

“Like I tell my mom, it’s a different feeling when you work for yourself. When you enjoy what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” Maria says.

And then, of course, there is always the romance. Even at 3 in the morning. In prison.

Maria recounts a story of sitting in jail with Rob one day and saying to him, “I don’t mind sitting in a jail with you.”

“Sounds good,” Rob says, smiling as she tells the story. “How many married couples are sitting in that jail doing this? None? Nobody’s sitting together like us.”

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