In 1896, Sam Childs, grandfather of current Chairman of the Board, Harvey Childs, posted his first bail bond in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His son, Paul, following graduation from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Pharmacy in 1923, would enter the bail bond business as well and continued building the enterprise for the next 45 years.
By 1959, Paul’s son, Harvey, having completed his college education, was living in the rural community known as Farma, in Otter Creek Township, Mercer County, when he would inadvertently enter the bail bond business. The Childs’ name was synonymous with bail in Pennsylvania after serving the needs of bail bond clients for more than 50 years, so Harvey was not surprised to receive a telephone call from a friend of the family asking that he post his bond. Although he never intended to follow in his father’s footsteps, he posted that bond which began a lifelong career in the bail bond industry and earned him the title of a third-generation bondsman.
By 1969, Harvey’s bail bond operation was flourishing, not only in Mercer County but in 16 additional western Pennsylvania counties and the District of Columbia, Ohio, and Maryland as well. But through youthful eyes he recognized that the bail bond industry was being represented by a majority of characters who were no longer providing honest services to accused individuals in need of bail. This image had not gone unnoticed by the Pennsylvania court system either and legislation was in the works to eliminate commercial bail bonding. Harvey began a crusade to retain bail and create a professional image within the bail bond industry. Along with Greenville resident, Dick Miller, they founded the Pennsylvania Association of Bail Bond Underwriters and challenged the Keystone State. Triumphantly, not only would bail remain in the state but legislation was passed to make bail agents “Officers of the Court.”
After successfully solidifying the existence of bail in his home state, Harvey expanded his network of bail bond agents across the country. During his travels he learned that, similar to Pennsylvania, other states were in jeopardy of the elimination of bail. He took action, enlisting the help of Celes King and three others to form an association: The Professional Bail Agents of The United States, known today as PBUS. Meanwhile, in his native state, bail thrived while providing a professional service to the accused and taxpayers.
In 1980, a bright, young woman by the name of Cheryl Burns applied and was hired for a clerical position at the bail bond office located in Greenville. This would later prove to be the best business decision Harvey would ever make. Her love of the business was immediate. Her desire for knowledge, keen insight, and protection of the company’s interests earned her access to every level of the organization. Harvey invested the next two years introducing her to bail bond agents across the country, political allies, and court representatives. In addition to her rapidly expanding responsibilities, she obtained her bail bond license and frequently posted bonds. In an extremely difficult, predominately male industry she steadfastly persevered and gained the respect of her colleagues.
By 1982, Harvey and Cheryl partnered to form Bail USA, Inc. Harvey, as President of the newly formed company, continued to expertly recruit bail bond agents, while Cheryl, Corporate Secretary/Treasurer, managed the daily operations from the Greenville office. By 1997, Bail USA, Inc. had contracted 1,200 bail agents in 39 states and employed 15 full-time support staff.
Today Bail USA, Inc. is a national underwriter for bail bonds operating under Crum and Forster, a Fairfax Company.