BOARD OF DIRECTORS
MICHELLE ESQUENAZI, CHAIR PERSON/PRESIDENT
Michelle Esquenazi grew up in Brooklyn, New York. Michelle is the founder of NYSBBA and has been working as its fearless leader since its inception. Over two decades ago Michelle founded "Empire Bail Bonds". Empire is family owned and operated, and that is Michelle's greatest source of pride. In 2011, Michelle and her family opened up their own surety company, Empire Bonding & Insurance Company.
Michelle is also the Vice President of the Professional Bail Agents of the United States and was honored to be named the "Bail Agent of the Year" by PBUS this year. Michelle travels to Albany often to advocate on behalf or our industry. "As a bail agent I feel compelled to help my fellow bail family throughout the nation", says Michelle, as she travels from state to state in honor of our time honored profession.
STEVEN ZALEWSKI, VICE-CHAIR
Bio coming soon...
JAY & RICK BERNARDO, CAPITAL REGION
Bernardo – Goldstein & Quinn Agency, Inc. has been in the insurance and bail bond business for 55 years, domiciled in the Capital District of New York State. Bill, originally a Brooklyn native, is a walking history book of the legal community in Upstate New York. He has hunted and recovered absconders from inside Canada to Florida. The bail industry in NYS has benefited from Bill’s charisma and professionalism creating a large network of Judicial, Legislative, and DFS friends.
"The bail business in the Capital District of Upstate New York is experiencing similar trends to other areas of the country. Harmony, professionalism and cooperation in our industry will be paramount to our viability and success in the coming years."
WILLIS KNIGHTON, CENTRAL NY REGION
Willis Knighton is a Professional Bond agent with CuseTown Bail Bonds of Syracuse, NY. He has been in business for close to nine years covering the CNY area of Syracuse NY, and the surrounding Counties.
"The good thing about our area is that mainly the Bond Agents here have respect for their fellow Agents. The thing that is of concern to all our Agents here, is the difference of how our Bonds are handled between Towns, Cities and Counties. In the small towns you have part-time Judges that have court, once a week or twice a month. They are very hard to contact after arraignment has been held to attempt to post a bond. Thereafter, some County Court Judges for those areas won’t sign those bonds until they receive the paperwork for the defendants, which could be 2-3 days later. Even the differences between City and County Courts is astounding.
It would be a great accomplishment if the Town Courts held seminars for every reelection concerning Bail Bonds and also contact info for those incoming Judges would be emailed. "
JASON FORDIN, LONG ISLAND REGION
Jason Fordin, Vice President of Empire Bail Bonds and Co-Owner of Empire Bonding & Insurance Company, has been in the bail bond business for 20 years. With his business partners, Michelle Esquenazi and Wendy Fordin, Jason has worked tirelessly to add a level of ethical integrity to the bail bond industry.
Now as the Regional Representative of Long Island for NYSBBA, Jason would like to see a commitment to aiding in the way the world sees bail bondsmen. "We are the every person. We come to work every day to ensure our fellow citizen’s freedoms."
LAURA "KITTY" GIST, WESTERN NY REGION
"My family has been in the business over 50 years in the Western NY region. Never have I seen anything like the the current state of bail in NYS. We are looking forward to working in conjunction with our regulatory body, the NYS DFS, to tighten the control over our industry. Bail agents that act as bad operators will not be tolerated in Western NY.
Once session starts this January, I look forward to working alongside my board members in messaging to legislators the need for commercial bail to the success of the criminal justice system for NY."
DAVID JAKAB, NYC REGION
David Jakab has been in the bail industry in NYC for 15 years and prides himself on a high ethical standard.
"At this crucial time when the pre-trial movement at our doorstep, it is imperative that the NYS bail industry come together. Being a part of the New York State Bail Bondsman Association, is a critical component in self-policing, and regulating our industry. I look forward to working closely with the bail community in NYC, and to continue to encourage an excellent industry standard for collateral. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns."