by: Kathryn Burcham Updated:ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. —
Criminal defense experts said federal authorities will be closely monitoring the parents of a missing Rowan County teenager while they await trial on 76 counts of fraud and theft.
Casey and Sandy Parsons were fitted with electronic monitoring systems Thursday at the federal Probation & Pre-Trial Services Office in their hometown of Fayetteville.
The Parsons also turned over a firearm that remained in their home following a search on Wednesday by FBI agents, per orders of a federal judge in court on Wednesday.
No one was inside the Parsons' home when a Channel 9 crew went there Thursday but experts said they are free to come and go as they please pending trial.
"Traditionally, in fraud sorts of cases, where it's not an act of violence, the presumption is an unsecured bond and that's how the person has been released," said criminal defense expert Brad Smith.
Smith, an attorney who defends his clients in federal court, said the case of the Parsons' adopted daughter Erica Parsons who is missing has no bearing on whether a judge would decide to keep them behind bars.
“As outraged as the public may be, the judge's hands are tied,” Smith said. “He has to treat every single person that comes in front of him the same."
Smith said federal judges set bond based on two conditions; whether the defendants are a flight risk and if they are considered a danger to society.
"Do they have a private jet? No. Do they have a home in a non-extradition country? No. Are they felons? There's no prior criminal history in this case that I'm aware of," Smith said.
As part of the conditions of their release, the Parsons will have to remain in the eastern part of North Carolina and must abide by all local and state laws.
The Parsons must also wear the electronic monitor bracelets and meet periodically with the pre-trial officer assigned to their case.
"Those conditions are almost like a contract. You're going stay out of jail, pending trial, as long as you (abide) by these conditions," Smith said.