Archived Story

Sheriff refuses to allow accused rapist out of jail

Published 3:16pm Tuesday, July 10, 2012

 

Seven days after a judge lowered his bonds, accused rapist Andre Ellis was still in jail by decision of Pike County Sheriff Russell Thomas.

“I took an oath to protect this county,” Thomas said. “This is not the kind of bond that I am just going to approve and let him walk out the door.”

Ellis is being held on seven bonds – two for rape charges, one for a burglary charge, one regarding a theft of property charge and three instances of worthless check charges – totaling $362,250. The bonding company he is using, Thomas said, would have at least 104 bonds totaling in excess of $1.2 million in Pike County alone, if he approved Ellis’ release.

“I am not satisfied with that,” Thomas said. “I don’t feel that is a good surety.”

Ellis is accused of raping two women on the same day in Hunter’s Mountain Mobile Estates off U.S. Highway 231 in Troy. The rapes happened on March 26 and he was charged almost a month later on April 25.

“This is one of the more frightening cases here in Troy and Pike County that I have seen as far as people being fearful and scared,” Thomas said, adding that gun permit sales rose by several hundred percent after the rapes. “What happened to these young ladies, they are going to have to live with for the rest of their life.”

Thomas said Ellis “has no ties to the community, no family in the community and no job in the community.” Ellis is self-employed, Thomas said, at a building he only recently rented to use as a car wash. The sheriff believes that isn’t enough to keep him in Pike County and said the accused man is a flight risk.

“I have explained to his lawyer that there are ways that he can force me,” Thomas said. “There are ways that they can get it before the judge and have the court decide.

And that’s what Ellis’ attorney plans to do.

As early as Wednesday morning, J. Carlton Taylor will file a writ of Habeas corpus, a legal action that requires a person under arrest be brought before a judge.

“My client is not a flight risk and he’s ready to go to court,” Taylor said on Tuesday. “He’s not a danger to the community. If he was, the judge (William Hightower) wouldn’t have reduced his bond.”

READ ABOUT ELLIS’ BOND REDUCTION AND WATCH A VIDEO HERE.

Taylor said he’d be working on the paperwork for the writ Tuesday night.

Cornelius Collins, with the Alternative Justice bail bond company used by Ellis, said he can write up to $1 million single bonds and he is “not concerned because I know I can.”

He said he’s never had a client denied before due to a surety issue.

“I’ve seen a lot of bonding companies come and go,” Thomas said. “I just can’t approve it under these conditions.”

Thomas said his stance is one he is sure of.

“The star, the badge, is a symbol of honor and in history it stands for something,” Thomas said. “It should stand for right and wrong and justice, and so should a sheriff.”

 

  • Omelas

    While I’m not too keen on the idea of this guy getting out to roam the streets, it is not the Sheriff’s call about whether to accept the bond. The Sheriff’s job is the enforcement of statutes passed by the legislature and orders from the courts.

    The Sheriff’s action is either pure political posturing, or he is another power-hungry government official who thinks he is above the law. Either way, it earns no respect from me.

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    • TrojanTau

      what about the possibility of Ellis jumping bail while out and the bondsman defaulting on the bonds that he owes to Pike county… Seems to me that the sheriff is trying to protect the interests of his county, not his political motivations.

      Report comment

  • PikeAlum

    Thank you, Russell Thomas for caring for your citizens. If only we had more people like you that are not scared to stand up for what they believe is right, true, and good in this world! To the previous comment, he is not looking to gain respect, he already has that from the majority of those he has served for so many years!

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    • Omelas

      So, you respect him for playing a political game and defying the law he is sworn to uphold.

      Sad. No…really it is pathetic.

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      • PikeAlum

        Sad…pathetic…whatever you want to call it will not sway my opinion! I personally know what traumatic, violent, and life changing things this man did to those girls. I say this man because they both identified him!! I understand that he has rights, but what about the rights of those girls?? He made sure he took those away with no remorse whatsoever. Please focus on the rights of the public that would be endangered if he was let out. I am not trying to attack you or anything like that, but trying to get you to see the other side of the story. There are women all over this city and county that would live in constant fear if this was allowed. Does that not take away their rights?? It is not only about his rights!!

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        • Omelas

          “I personally know what traumatic, violent, and life changing things this man did to those girls.”

          In that case, I’m sure the DA will win a conviction based upon your testimony of first-hand knowledge.

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  • onlyintroy

    Omelas part of the sheriff;s job is to approve bonds be it property or bondsman.The bondsman said he can write a bond up to one million he has already got one point two million in pike cty.By the way he must pay the new fee of thirty five dollars just past so that alone will make him return one might think

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    • Omelas

      Is the bondsman bonded for up to $1M in total, or is he bonded for up to $1M per bond? There is a big difference, and, no, I do not know the answer.

      While I hope Ellis is not able to post bond and walk the streets of Troy, he does have Constitutional rights that a local sheriff does not have the right to deny.

      It is clear from the article that the motive behind the Sheriff Thomas’ action is to keep the accused behind bars until his trial, despite the bond set by the court.

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      • http://www.troymessenger.com Robbyn Brooks

        It is my understanding Alternative Justice can issue bonds in the amount of $1 million each. However, there is some question as to how much the company is insured for regarding a total amount and Thomas said that has not been provided to him by Alternative Justice.

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  • Browneyedgirl

    I am so proud our sheriff refused to let this terrible man out!! He is right where he should be!! What he did is horrific and he has no right to be free!!

    Report comment

    • Omelas

      What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”? But, of course, this is Troy. Get out th’ lynchin’ rope, right?

      Report comment

  • Trojanparents

    What some of you should remember is that it is a persons constitutional right to bond. Yes, the Sheriff is responsible for approving a bond, but this can obviously be seen as political motivation. Do you think that the news cameras showed up for stories today “just because”? I’m curious who made those phone calls to the paper, WSFA & WAKA. It’s politics. With a fading popularity and VERY questionable reputation, the Sheriff had to make a move. Regardless of how I or any of you feel, a person is innocent until proven guilty. A bond is not set as “punishment”. A bond is set to provide the guarantee of the defendants presence when required by the court. I am fearful of a government that makes decisions that violate our constitutional rights. The Sheriff is NOT the lawmaker, he is the law enforcer. Yes, he can refuse to approve a bond for legit reasons, but when his actions are so clear, I question his morals as the supreme law enforcer of the county. I think someone is a little bit of a control freak and is enjoying his time in the limelight. Egotistical much? He can say it is to protect the people of Pike County all he wants. Actions speak louder than any news reporter interview. How about you give your reasons to the bondsman and that be that. If it wasn’t politically motivated, I don’t think every news station would have been called. Innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Don’t let people (the Sheriff or anyone else) take that away from you, and don’t excuse it just because these were TERRIBLE crimes. Put him on house arrest with ankle monitoring, or whatever you have to do, but don’t play “your” games with the people you are supposed to serve. We aren’t stupid.

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    • http://www.troymessenger.com Robbyn Brooks

      Hi all,
      Just a clarification about how news outlets were notified. Ellis’ attorney called WSFA.

      Report comment

    • Omelas

      +1 Well said.

      Report comment

  • Trojanparents

    “The star, the badge, is a symbol of honor and in history it stands for something,” Thomas said. “It should stand for right and wrong and justice, and so should a sheriff.”

    By the way, this is pretty hysterical coming from him. In history, it might have stood for something, not so much these days. The Sheriff is neither the judge nor jury.

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  • WDM

    most of the people that complain about what law enforcement does are the people that are breaking the law.
    I am proud the sheriff is doing what he thinks is right even thou he knows the judge can still let him out.
    Those young ladies identified Ellis as the one who raped them.

    Report comment

  • Trojanparents

    Not breaking the law here. I am more of a person that respects the Constitution and the laws of the State of Alabama. I also strongly believe in the right to bare arms, and I certainly don’t like the threat of it being taken away. The crimes he is accused of committing are horrendous. If they identified him, it still doesn’t make him “guilty in a court of law”. If we start convicting people in the media (which national media is a pro at doing) and punishing them prior to conviction, we eliminate an intrugal piece of the puzzle; that being the judicial process. Regardless of how one “feels”, a job must be done. That job should be done within the scope of the law. If the reason was the bonding company, that should have been the reason. He (Sheriff) shouldn’t have gone into the fact that he wants to protect the people and the other mumbo jumbo. He is a professional politician and I am afraid it’s about to hit the fan. If he had a legitimate reason, which it appears he does, that should have been the reason. Period. Just because I will stand for due process (because I certainly would want it for myself), doesn’t mean I break the law. Because I want to protect a persons right to bare arms doesn’t mean I want people murdered, or I have shot someone. It is to protect myself from pieces of pooh, like this fella! If he does get out, they should definitely monitor him. I mean, if it was me, you guys would have to put me on a milk carton, because I would be missing and never found. Good night. WDM, I hope you don’t take that in the wrong way. Just giving my opinion. You know what they say about those.

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  • ohwell

    Just reviewing the article from July 3, and the statement by Pike County Assistant District Attorney Jeffrey Moore:
    “Mr. Ellis doesn’t have a great history appearing before the court,”

    Do you suppose that this may be Sheriff Thomas’s reason for not releasing Ellis?
    Or does it just HAVE to be “politically motivated”?

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  • drabbit77

    I applaud the sheriff for taking a stand on principle.We could use a lot more of it in my opinion

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  • drabbit77

    Trojan parents must this clowns parents, you people can’t be serious.The sheriff is obviously within his rights or mr. rapist would be released

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  • Trojanparents

    Nope, I’m white. Are you honestly contemplating the fact of me being related to him? (You probably aren’t the only one) To those of you that are thinking this, you have missed the point. My point is that it doesn’t MATTER how we feel. It doesn’t matter what the Sheriff is saying in the interview. He can’t deny anyone bond because “he is concerned”. There is a reason and that reason is the status of the bonding company. He has no right to make a decision like this without legal cause. The job of the Judge is to determine if a bond should be set and set it within the law. It is the job of the Sheriff to approve the bond, that is all. If his bonds total almost $300,000, the question should be, how did Mr. Ellis come up with that much cash to pay a bondsman (at least 10% of the total), and he has appointed counsel? Regardless, I am beating a dead horse here. Point is, the Sheriff can’t really do what he is “saying” he is doing. I am anxious to see the articles later this week that outline what the lawsuit states. He can deny it legally, but not for the “political reason” he is giving.

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  • Trojanparents

    Please do not mistake what I am saying as being sympathetic towards Mr. Ellis. These girls will suffer for the rest of their lives. I cannot begin to imagine the pain they feel or their parents. BUT, it does not mean you can violate someones constitutional rights! Unless we are seated as jurors, we will never know all of the facts. We are a great nation because we have rights and liberties. Yes it is terrible, but Mr. Shine hasn’t been convicted yet. Just hold your horses, because if he is, the Sheriff can have him back.

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  • BH1880

    The office of sheriff is a carry over from old English law, the position is over 1000 years old and the oldest office established in the US. I think power comes directly from the Alabama Constitution and is one of the most powerful in the state. Confusing but the county coroner has the authority to arrest the sheriff. The office is an elected position and falls victim to politics. I do not pretend to know the motives of the sheriff, but agree with the present outcome.

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    • Observer

      The assertion that the Coroner can arrest the Sheriff is true but often leads people to over-state the matter saying that only the Coroner can arrest a Sheriff. The confusion arises from provisions in the law which require that the Coroner carry out the duties of the Sheriff if the Sheriff is legally barred from doing them in a certain case. The law is designed to have someone assigned to serve warrants, approve bonds, serve process, etc., in cases where the Sheriff is a party (either in a criminal or civil case).
      Any lawful officer can arrest a Sheriff pursuant to the Alabama Laws of Arrest, and in an extreme case even an ordinary citizen can make a citizen’s arrest of the Sheriff or any other law enforcement officer although such arrests are virtually unheard of.

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  • Harry

    From what the sheriff has said he is aware that Ellis can bond out . In fact the article states that he told the lawyer what he could do to bond him out . On the other hand let me ask those hollering about him doing wrong , what if when released he decides to run and before leaving Pike County he rapes another woman or two . Does that mean he’s justified because the sheriff delayed his getting out .He’s guilty since he has been identified by both victims and has no ties that would keep him in the area . Lock the pig up and throw the key away .

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  • LateNiteLuigi

    Hey Omelas and trojanparent:I agree-let him out so that he can rape someone else’s daughter/grandchild/girlfriend, etc. NOT!
    I stand behind Sheriff Thomas on this. The guy is probably still going to be out in society again soon (as usual).

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  • topnotchtungsten

    Omelas is simply the Troy Messenger sounding board troll. But to trojanparents, one would obviously be correct in assuming you have a child/children. God forbid this animal would ever be free to viciously rape again, but how quickly your tone and opinion would change if your child were to be his next target. I’m a conservative, and I strongly support the Constitution. But your posturing is just as phony as you claim the sherriff’s is and would vanish in an instant were you to get the same terrible phone call the parents of these girls’ received, and don’t lie and say you’d still feel the same way afterward. The Constitution be damned if this piece of manure ever laid a finger on my daughter.

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    • Omelas

      “Omelas is simply the Troy Messenger sounding board troll.”

      Ooooooh! Way cool! Now that I’m hired, do I get a check on Friday?

      Report comment

  • Mook

    Wow!! Let me just start by saying I have all the respect for Sheriff Thomas. I think he has done a great job as sheriff of Pike County. There is no better person to be sheriff of Pike County in my opinion, However; I must agree with Trojanparents. I do not believe the sheriff has the authority to hold Ellis or anyone for that matter, when the judge has given a bond amount and the person has made that bond. I always try to but myself in the other person’s place. These crimes that have been committed on these girls are horrible and will never be forgotten by them. My prayers went out to these girls and their families when the rapes where first made public. However, this accused man have not been found guilty. Whether we admit it or not if that were us we would want a fair chance. Yes I am a parent. Yes I have a daughter. No my feelings would probaly not be the same if it happen to my daughter but I would want to make sure the right person is behind bars without a doubt. You know there a 50/50 chance that he is innocent. There are alot of people in jail/prison for crimes they did not commit. No disrespect to the sheriff but if the sheriff is refusing to let Ellis out (i personally don’t think he should be, but that’s personal and right is right) then do the same for other accusers that make bond. Just a thought.

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  • Omelas

    If you notice the first words of my first comment, “While I’m not too keen on the idea of this guy getting out to roam the streets…” you will understand that I do not want Ellis to be free to flee or harm someone else.

    My arguement is that the court set the bail. Right or wrong, the bail was set at X number of dollars. Ellis has a Constitutional right to make that bail. The court of public opinion and political expediency should have no impact on the respective roles the courts and law enforcement play.

    If Ellis were to be convicted and we still had the death penalty for rape, I would be among the first to volunteer to carry out the sentence.

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  • writing4him

    I don’t think anyone disagrees with the fact that a vicious crime was committed against these young ladies. However, it would be a far worse crime if this man got off, or if his punishment was lessened because of violating his constitutional rights. How would the sheriff live with that, or face the victims and their families?? Face it guys…We did not write the constitution, but it exists.

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    • ilovefood

      well…the constitution does really mean a thing these days. i have the right to choose if i want health insurance .. BUT NOT ANYMORE. so the point is governemnt and government officials do as they want! SAD BUT TRUE

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  • WDM

    “I have explained to his lawyer that there are ways that he can force me,” Thomas said. “There are ways that they can get it before the judge and have the court decide.

    And that’s what Ellis’ attorney plans to do.

    The sheriff knows he can get out he just wants that on the judges shoulders.

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  • jeff7273

    @Trojanparents – The letter of law is missed when a lynch mob wants to pounce. All your comments are dead on. I don’t know how many times, murderers and accused murderers have walked the streets in Pike County out on bond. I believe in the letter of law and if the judge in this case believed that Mr. Ellis was a danger to society or flight risk then he should not have granted him bond. It’s just that simple. This is America and regardless of public opinion, in America citizens are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law by a jury of our peers. I just wonder if some of the same people screaming against bond for this young man have been screaming the opposite for George Zimmerman. This is why lady justice is blind, human nature is sympathetic to its own cause!

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    • Mook

      @jeff7273 – in all fairness, Zimmerman has admitted to shooting the kid as well as he has lied to the courts and his past attorneys about his finance. I think Zimmerman will be a flight risk as well as Ellis but the difference is the sheriff is denying Ellis to be release after the judge as reduce bond and he can make the set bond amount. Now my question about Ellis making the bond amount is where did he get the money if he can’t pay for an attorney?

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  • TU08

    Thank you Sheriff Thomas…I am a female and resident of Pike County. I also have a current pistol liscense…and yes I carry it every where….I am so thankful that you are making a stand to not let this man out on bond…As a citizen I belive we need to make a stand a show up at the Oike County Court House whe he goes before the judge for the courts to decide….I am tired of living in fear because of idiots like him…RUSSELL THOMAS YOU hanve my support on this 100%….

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  • Observer

    The Sheriffs role in approving bonds is usually exercised in accepting bonds signed by ordinary citizens – he must identify property he can seize and sell to satisfy a bond. Usually, a bonding company bond is accepted. The issue in approving the bond is whether or not the person or firm posting the bond has assets to cover it – not whether or not the Sheriff thinks the defendant should remain in jail. If the Sheriff’s preference was the standard bonds would only be approved for political advantage.
    Thomas may be grandstanding and knows that a habeas corpus hearing will result in the bond being approved by the judge.
    Consider,however, the economic aspects of the issue. If he stays in jail until trail and if convicted is sentenced to many years in prison – the state will have to pay millions for his care, feeding, entertainment, medical care, etc. On the other hand, if he is bonded out and absconds the state collects the bond and does not have to feed, clothe, house and care for him and he will have to run away and hide to keep from being brought back for trial.

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  • ohwell

    I have the utmost respect for the Judge and Sheriff, (both elected officials), but I’ll be darned if I see the reason for the judge lowering this mans bond.

    I agree that he is innocent until proven guilty, but this guy is probably as safe where he is as anywhere he could be in Pike County for the foreseeable future.

    As for him worrying about his “business” suffering? HAH!

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  • BLOOD

    I am not certain this man is guilty. There is no DNA evidence according to the Troy Messenger. I had a roommate in college that passed for my twin. I don’t want an alleged rapist out wandering the streets either, but none of us know, if he is guilty or innocent.

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    • Omelas

      (insert sarcasm) Of COURSE he’s guilty. Public opinion in Troy has already convicted him. Why bother havin’ a trial. Just get the rope. (end sarcasm)

      I am shocked and saddened that so many here have posted a pre-trial decision about guilt/innocence without even hearing the facts of the case. I am even more shocked that so many only want the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution applied to themselves, not everyone.

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  • charlesreg30

    why does he have a cell phone , he gets what he gave

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  • Prophet

    The bonding company must be idiots. I would not have believed any bonding company would have ever touched this. Maybe they can change it to a cash only bond and keep this sick pervert in jail.

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  • Prophet

    50 yrs ago this would have never been an issue. Everyone would have wanted him bonded out . That’s not to say he would have ever made it to court. Ohhhh the good old days !

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  • Prophet

    Omelas you’ve had the best idea so far—”Public opinion in Troy has already convicted him. Why bother havin’ a trial. Just get the rope. “

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  • http://www.troymessenger.com Robbyn Brooks
  • Harry

    Boy this gets better and better . Now we have the bail bondsman not having the authority to issue bail so perhaps the judge should be checked to see if his order was legal. Now it’s time to hear from the defenders of the bail bondsman and hear them tell us how unfair it is that he might be in trouble . After all it ain’t over until the fat lady sings .

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    • Observer

      If the Sheriff had refused to accept the bond on the basis of the bondsman not being licensed that would have been a valid exercise of his duties. But, when he refused the bond no mention was made of the license.

      Report comment

      • Omelas

        100% agreed, Observer.

        Coincidentally, the bondsman had not renewed his license. The Sheriff’s own statements made his motive clear, and that had nothing to do with bond limits or licensure.

        Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

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  • WDM

    Some of you either don’t read the complete article or either can’t remember what you read.
    Ellis is being held on seven bonds – two for rape charges, one for a burglary charge, one regarding a theft of property charge and three instances of worthless check charges – totaling $362,250. The bonding company he is using, Thomas said, would have at least 104 bonds totaling in excess of $1.2 million in Pike County alone, if he approved Ellis’ release.

    “I am not satisfied with that,” Thomas said. “I don’t feel that is a good surety.”

    Report comment

    • justmine

      This is not the first time Thomas has refused to allow someone to make bond although the judge had set one. Nor is it just to protect and serve. There are people he has not arrested although he had warrants, people he has charged and arrested while knowing that they should not have been because it was done illegally. Law enforcement by Sheriff Thomas is not what is right and wrong and certainly not what justice was set up to be!

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      • WDM

        justmine,where did you get that bit of info? Do you work for the sheriff’s office.Just wondering I have family in law enforcement not in Pike County and I don’t even get that type of infomation.

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