NEW PORT RICHEY — Prosecutors have dropped charges against a bail bondsman and his brother who took down an armed man in a government office last month.
David Lowman, owner of Help Bail Bonds in Clearwater, went to the Pasco County Tax Collector's office on U.S. 19 in Gulf Harbors on Jan. 8 to arrest a man whose bond was being revoked. His twin brother, Donald, who is not a licensed bondsman, was with him.
David Lowman approached John Edward Darlington, wanted in Pinellas County on a grand theft charge, and his mother in the crowded lobby and told Darlington he was under arrest. But, according to video from the office, Darlington fought back, prompting Donald Lowman to jump into the struggle.
The three men fell to the floor, and police said Darlington pulled a gun as customers nearby ran for cover. Darlington was eventually subdued, handcuffed and taken to jail.
The incident outraged Tax Collector Mike Olson, who called the Lowmans' actions irresponsible.
Police agreed. They arrested Donald Lowman, who pleaded guilty in 1998 to selling cocaine, on charges he is a felon who acted as a bail bond agent. David Lowman was charged with knowingly allowing a felon to act as a bail bond agent.
But Assistant State Attorney Mike Halkitis said Wednesday the charges wouldn't hold up.
In Donald Lowman's case, he had his civil rights restored in 2004. So he's no longer considered a felon. He also wasn't acting as a bail bond agent, Halkitis said, but just helping his brother when Darlington pulled the gun.
"That was one brother helping the other brother in his self-defense," he said.
So that fact also cleared David Lowman of allowing his brother to act as a bondsman.
Olson, who suggested legislation should be crafted to limit bondsmen's powers of arrest in public places, could not be reached Wednesday.
David Lowman's license is still under investigation by the state Department of Financial Regulation, a spokeswoman said.
Attorney Craig Kubiak represents both Lowmans and said they are "ecstatic" about the charges being dropped.
Darlington, in the meantime, is still in jail on numerous charges, including aggravated assault with a deadly weapon related to the incident in the tax office.
David Lowman, Kubiak said, is the listed victim.
Molly Moorhead can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6245.