Category Archives: Bail Recovery

Bounty Hunters (wanted on warrants themselves), Arrested After Entering West Tulsa Home

Bounty Hunters Arrested After Entering West Tulsa Home

News On 6
By Lori Fullbright
May 14, 2012 

 

TULSA, Oklahoma –

Bounty hunters kicked in the door of a woman in her 70s in West Tulsa last week. Once inside, they realized they had the wrong address.

 

*** News Video Segment

 

She asked the dispatcher if she could put the phone down long enough to get her gun, but was told to stay on the line. Just then, two men kicked in her back door.

 

 

Police found the three bounty hunters and realized two of them, Ronnie Shaw and Cecil Deere, had warrants out for their arrests.

 

 

 

 

The elderly woman was terrified and had no idea who the men were. But that wasn’t the worst of it. She learned something about the two men from police that made her upset.

Mary was about to take a bath last Wednesday night when someone began banging on her front door.

“He said, ‘you better open the door. I told you we were bounty hunters,'” Mary said. “I said, ‘you could tell me you’re anybody.'”

He kept demanding and threatened to kick in the door. So she called 911. She asked the dispatcher if she could put the phone down long enough to get her gun, but was told to stay on the line.

Just then, two men kicked in her back door.

“I could hear the wood crushing,” Mary explained. “It was scary.”

The men came in and looked through her house. They demanded to know where Donnie was. But she repeatedly told them she lived alone and didn’t know a Donnie.

That’s when they realized their mistake.

“He said, ‘is this 124?’ I said, ‘no, it’s not 124,” Mary said. “‘My letters are on my mailbox in big white letters. You couldn’t have missed it.'”

The two men left with barely a word, leaving her backdoor still broken with a big footprint on it.

Police found the three bounty hunters and realized two of them, Ronnie Shaw and Cecil Deere, had warrants out for their arrests. So they were booked into jail.

All three men got tickets for breaking and entering without permission.

“That ain’t right to be looking for somebody else, kick in someone’s door in to get that person,” Mary said. “And here you’ve got two warrants out on yourself and your friend with you.”

Mary believes bounty hunters should be licensed and bonded. In hindsight, she’s glad she didn’t have her gun, because she believes she would’ve killed them.

“I’m still nervous,” Mary said. “I get knots thinking about it. That scared the liver out of me.”

The bondsmen who wanted the fugitive said he didn’t know the three men. He said they just called and offered to pick up the guy for him, which is pretty standard.

He was shocked to learn they had warrants, and one of the men had served eight years in prison. He believes bounty hunters should be licensed, like bail bondsmen are.

 

 

Mary believes bounty hunters should be licensed and bonded. In hindsight, she’s glad she didn’t have her gun, because she believes she would’ve killed them.

An Oklahoma senator proposed a law last year and this year, but both bills died.

 

Direct Link:   http://www.newson6.com/story/18391006/bounty-hunters-arrested-after

Bounty Hunters Cleaning Up Their Image

 

Bounty Hunters Cleaning Up Their Image

 

 

 

By Oliver Libaw
Jan. 30

Bounty Hunter Billy Wells admits his profession has an image problem.

“There’s a picture that pops up your mind when you say ‘bounty hunter,'” he said. “You think of a thug.”

It’s an image that is not helped by regular — if infrequent — horror stories of bounty hunters’ apparent abuses and mistakes, such as the killing of a Virginia man last month. Police say a bounty hunter with criminal record raided the wrong home and fatally shot an innocent man.

And it’s more than just an image problem for those who make their living as skip tracers. Pressure from lawmakers is slowly reining in the storied profession, eroding unparalleled freedoms born in the days of the Wild West.

 

Reality vs. ‘The Wild Bunch’

Bounty hunters are hired by bail bond agents to track down and arrest clients who have failed to appear in court as required. They haul in an estimated 30,000 bail jumpers every year, earning a typical fee of about 10 percent of the bail amount.

The thousands of agents working in business range from private investigators and former police officers, to people like Crystal McElroy, a 26-year-old mother of three who works as a bounty hunter in Santa Fe, N.M.

The profession has long been a fixture of the American imagination, appearing in movies such as The Wild Bunch, Midnight Run, and even Star Wars. But the reality is usually not very glamorous, those in the industry say.

Bounty hunters spend days tracking down and staking out their prey. Professionals admit chases and high drama are rare, and many seasoned agents say they often just call the police when they’ve tracked down a particularly dangerous fugitive.

Only a few hundred agents around the country are able to support themselves as full-time bounty hunters, experts say.

“It’s a tough business,” said Wells. “I recommend to people — and I always have — don’t quit your day job.”

 

The ‘Rambo Approach’

Most bounty hunters are responsible professionals, but traditionally, virtually anyone could enter the field, and under a Supreme Court decision in 1872, they have enjoyed police-like powers.

It’s the freedom and the racy image that have attracted some of the wrong sorts of people.

“There’s a lot of people who take the ‘Rambo’ approach,” admits Dennis Bartlett, the executive director of the American Bail Coalition.

Something like that apparently is what happened in Virginia.

A bounty hunter named James Dickerson allegedly went to the wrong home on Christmas Eve while pursuing a fugitive. Dickerson and another man broke down the door, dragged a man outside and killed him, police said.

Dickerson had a criminal record; his alleged victim, Roberto Martinez, did not.

In Virginia, as has been the case in many states, virtually anyone can work as a bounty hunter, without obtaining a license or undergoing a background check.

Horror stories like the Martinez case are not new.

Earlier this year, two bail bondsmen in Fairfax, Va., were arrested after allegedly taking money from a couple they had recaptured after posting bond for them, police there reported.

In Houston last month, Thang Quoc Le pleaded not guilty to hiring a bounty hunter to kill a man who had been seeing his wife.

Last June, a 23-year-old man died after struggling with three bounty hunters in Kansas City. One of the men was charged with involuntary manslaughter and pleaded not guilty.

 

Breaking Down the Door to Your Home — Legally

The extensive power granted to bounty hunters stems from an 1872 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Taylor vs.Taintor. The high court ruled that a bail bond agent or bounty hunter can pursue bail jumpers across state lines, break into their homes, and arrest him or her at anytime.

These cases and others have highlighted the unusual police-like power and latitude given to bounty hunters.

Last year, the Ohio Supreme Court granted bounty hunter Michael Kole a new trial, on the grounds that he had the legal authority to arrest a defendant “at any time or place.” Kole had been convicted of abduction and burglary after he and a partner had entered a fugitive’s home and held the man at gunpoint.

 

With Little Success Curtailing Their Power…

Lawmakers have repeatedly tried to curtail bounty hunters’ powers, generally without success.

Efforts were jumpstarted in 1997, after a young couple was killed in their Phoenix, Ariz., home by men who claimed to be bounty hunters. The case prompted Arizona to pass a law requiring bounty hunters to be licensed and to obtain permission before entering a home.

Similar cases have periodically renewed interest in cracking down on the profession in other states, but bounty hunters have fiercely fought such efforts.

Bartlett and other bounty hunter advocates insist it would be impossible to do the job without the power to make arrests and enter home without warrants.

“If you don’t have some sort of coercive authority you’re never going to pick the guy up,” said Wells.

Bounty hunters insist they are performing an important public function. The bail system helps combat jail overcrowding, they argue. Police are rarely interested in pursuing bail jumpers charged with relatively minor offenses, so the job is left to skip tracers, industry officials say.

 

…States Cracks Down on the ‘Scumbag Element’

Instead of drastically limiting bounty hunters’ capabilities, many states have imposed restrictions on who can become a bail enforcement agent, as those in the industry prefer to be called.

California, for example, passed legislation in 2000 requiring bail-enforcement agent to receive about two weeks of training and undergo a background check for felony convictions.

The various state restrictions create a tangle of confusion for those in the business, though. In Texas, bounty hunters cannot carry fire arms, for example, but in California they can. In some states they cannot carry a badge and wear identifying clothing, but in others they are required to do so.

“There’s so much gray area. Even the cops don’t know what we can or can’t do,” complains Wells.

For many in the industry, some restrictions such as criminal background checks are welcome.

“What it’s done is sort of driven the scumbag element out of the picture,” says Bartlett, the executive director of the American Bail Coalition.

 

Direct Link:  http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90553&page=1#.T7xCzFIuVI6

Police Identify Bounty Hunters Who Terrorized MWC Family

Police Identify Bounty Hunters Who Terrorized MWC Family

News9.com
by Dana Hertneky 
by LaShauna Sewell
Aug 04, 2011

 

Midwest City Police have identified the bounty hunters who held the wrong family hostage last week.
Charges are being considered.


*** Video Segment

 

MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma  –

Midwest City police say a group of bounty hunters who forced their way into a family’s apartment have been identified as the Bounty Boys.

 

 

Kevin Houston says someone pounded on his door just before midnight on July 25. The 51-year-old man jumped out of bed.

“I said ‘Who is it?’ And they never did say,” said Houston. “They were just like ‘Open the door.'”

 

7/29/11 Related Story: Police Looking For Bounty Hunters That Terrorized A MWC Family

 

7/29/11 Related Story: MWC Police Search For Bounty Hunters Terrorizing Innocent People

 

Houston says six men dressed as police officers rushed into his apartment. They were wearing vests labeled with the word “Fugitive” on the back. They also carried guns, tasers and badges. Houston says he did what they told him to do because he assumed they were police. Houston, his fiancé and two children were terrified.

“They had on all black with all these guns and tasers and stuff and they pointed the gun at him and I thought ‘oh God they’re going shoot him,” Houston’s fiancé April Frost said.

After detaining the family for 45 minutes, the bounty hunters realized they were at the wrong home. The fugitive they were searching for is white. Houston is black.

Houston says the men simply walked out, and never apologized.

Midwest City police have now identified the men as the Bounty Boys, a local bounty hunter group. After the original story aired, several law enforcement agencies and legitimate bounty hunters called police and said the “Bounty Boys” were likely the culprits.

Police say there have been other complaints made against the group, but victims would never testify in court. The Bounty Boys have posted some of their actions on YouTube, and describe themselves as reality actors.

A Midwest City Police Department investigator contacted one member of the Bounty Boys, who admitted the group entered Houston’s apartment. However, the member refused to speak more with the investigator, and referred him to the group’s attorney. The attorney has arranged interviews with the bounty hunters for next week.

“They made a mistake, but it’s not a mistake that should involve filing criminal charges,” said the group’s attorney Irvin Box. “If someone has some sort of civil litigation that’s up to them, but we don’t believe it rose to that degree.”

Police say the Bounty Boys could be charged with kidnapping, pointing a firearm, and entering a building with certain intent. It’s up to the Oklahoma County District Attorney to decide if charges will be filed.

“This incident has raised some concerns with the law enforcement community regarding a few rogue bounty hunters,” said Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes. “As I said earlier, I don’t want to stereotype all good people who work in this field but we know there are some who need oversight and statutory regulation to ensure they don’t violate criminal law or civil rights.”

Dudley Goolsby, president of the Oklahoma Bondsmans Association issued this statement in regards to the incident:

“The law must be respected and adhered to. Bail bond agents should not use or condone the use of recovery agents (bounty hunters) who fail to follow the law or fail to respect the rights of citizens to be secure in their own homes.”

 

Direct Link:  http://www.news9.com/story/15206065/police-identify-bounty-hunters-who-terrorized-mwc-family

Bounty hunter finds himself on wrong side of law

Bounty hunter finds himself on wrong side of law

Nashville City Paper
February 28, 2010
By Brantley Hargrove
bounty-hunter-vert.jpg
In a series of YouTube videos, David Fletcher elucidates on the qualities of a bounty hunter, including the requirement that one not have a felony criminal record.

 

 

The knock at the door was less a rap than it was an impact, a succession of hinge-rattling concussions.

It was 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3, 2009, and the home’s occupants — 68-year-old Cleo Keeler, her daughter, grandchildren and foster children, some nine in all — sat in stunned silence on what had been a quiet evening.

“Who’s there?”

A muffled voice answered through the door: “U.S. marshals!” The federal agent was threatening to kick the door down. With choices limited to replacing a splintered door and opening it, someone finally let the man in. But it wasn’t just one man. A handful of armed toughs streamed into the home off of Charles E. Davis Boulevard. One had his pistol drawn and pointed at Keeler’s 16-year-old grandson.

But it was the man at the head of the bunch who cut the most striking figure. He was square-jawed and had a set of gleaming, pearly whites. He wore an expensive-looking jacket — maybe rabbit — which he pulled back at the waist to reveal a holstered pistol. He wore a set of chunky gold chains around his neck and looked sort of like a pimp, Keeler’s daughter Kathy Patterson thought.

But she recognized him from around south Nashville almost instantly. His name was David Fletcher. A nice-looking young man, she remembered, but he ran with a rough crowd, always hanging out on the streets, either consuming or selling drugs.

The man with the pistol pointed at the boy said he had a warrant for his arrest and pinned him to the ground, according to a lawsuit filed by the family in Davidson County Circuit Court on Feb. 3.

Keeler was terrified, and Fletcher, according to Patterson, said, “Calm your mama down! Calm your mama down!” Patterson thought they were all going to be shot. After all, how could a man with Fletcher’s background be on the right side of the law?

The family repeatedly asked the men for identification, the filing says, but none was shown. Finally, Fletcher produced a photocopied image of a 26-year-old named Cody Bryant, who was accused of aggravated assault. Apparently, Bryant missed a court date. The boy whom the man with the gun had pinned down was definitely not the convicted felon they were after. Patterson said they didn’t look remotely similar. Lawmen had been by the rental home before looking for Bryant, a previous tenant. The felon, as it turned out, had a $10,000 bond.

These men weren’t federal agents there to protect and serve. They were bounty hunters after a bail-jumper with a price tag on his head, hoping to cash in on a juicy reward. And so they beat a hasty retreat, declining to show identification, court documents say.

Bounty hunter a convicted felon

It’s no secret that bounty hunters — or fugitive recovery agents, as they refer to themselves — operate in that murky hinterland between civilians who are necessary tools of the law and mercenaries whose methods are questionable, sometimes illegal.

According to Tennessee law, fugitive recovery agents have every right to do what they do. But other than the police, there is no governmental regulatory body to keep them in check. There is no definitive number for how many fugitive recovery agents there are in Tennessee for a few reasons: One, to be a fugitive recovery agent, a person needs only the credentials that come with an eight-hour training course through the Tennessee Association of Professional Bonding Agents. Two, bounty hunters in the field say many earn the credentials, but few actually become active recovery agents.

On that March evening, though, there was nothing gray about the area of law Fletcher is accused of operating in. The young man Fletcher was after had a rap sheet pretty similar to his own. In fact, if one were inclined to compare resumes, Fletcher’s blew the kid’s out of the water. Try felony theft, felony sale of cocaine, fraud, criminal impersonation, aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a weapon, aggravated burglary and resisting an officer. Fletcher did not return messages for comment left by The City Paper with friends and his current employer.

Of course, that’s all ancient history. His friends say Fletcher came up on the street and carries some of the attendant baggage associated with a rough start in life. Bill Tomlinson of T Bonding Co., a bondsman and former employer of Fletcher, said he’s a decent guy trying to make good.

“He went to jail and he done some time,” Tomlinson said. “I know in the last 10 years he’s tried to flip himself around.” When speaking of job performance, though, Tomlinson said his past makes him an exceptionally adept “fugitive recoverer.” Tomlinson said he’s got the street smarts to find just about any bail-jumping crook, no matter how elusive.

There’s a problem, though: It’s illegal to have convicted felons out there “recovering” bail-jumping felons. Same for fugitive recovery agents with felonies carrying around pistols. Felons can’t have guns. Ever. So when Fletcher took a posse to Springfield, Tenn., in December 2008 to nab a fugitive, and they kicked down the door to the wrong house, this became a problem for him, a spokesman for Springfield police said. When U.S. marshals came to his home with an arrest warrant and found ammunition in August 2009, it became a huge problem. He’s now awaiting trial in federal court for being a felon in possession of ammunition.

This sent waves through Nashville’s bail bonding community. Complaints found their way to the right people, and Judge Mark Fishburn, the presiding judge over the trial courts of Davidson County, sent out a letter in April 2009 forbidding bail bondsmen from using Fletcher and threatening sanctions against those who do. He mentioned the cocaine conviction against Fletcher, along with the felony theft case.

For Keeler, Patterson and their children, a lawsuit seeking $500,000 in damages against Fletcher and the bonding company they said hired him — Slater Bonding Co., whose owner is on the board of the Tennessee Association of Professional Bail Agents — seems airtight. A man answering the phones at the company declined to identify himself to The City Paper but said they’re guilty of no wrongdoing. Fletcher, the man at Slater insisted, was operating on his own. “This guy doesn’t work for us,” he said. “He’s a pariah.”

Keeler’s attorney, Patrick Thurman, said the company hasn’t provided any evidence to back up the claim.

Hypocrisy on YouTube

For Thurman, it wasn’t difficult to track down Fletcher. Simply Google his name and a series of informational videos on fugitive recovery will emerge on YouTube.

In what are clearly low-budget productions, Fletcher appears on camera near T Bonding Co., off of decaying Gay Street, wearing a slate-colored suede suit and a black turtleneck. His tone is grave as he announces that he is commander of United States Fugitive Apprehension — an organization that doesn’t appear to be registered in Tennessee.

In one video, Fletcher elucidates, hitting a melodramatic and finally hypocritical note, on the qualities one must possess to become a bounty hunter: “In order to be a bounty hunter, you must be able to think and react at a moment’s notice. Not a second, when you are out there, do your adrenaline not rush. The person that you think is least likely to hurt you, or to kill you is the person that’s most likely to take you out. … You cannot be a bounty hunter, once again, if you are or have been convicted of a felony.” [sic]

These days, instead of seizing human beings for bail bondsmen, David Fletcher pursues the only quarry he can, Tomlinson said: He repossesses cars.

 

Direct Link:  http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/bounty-hunter-finds-himself-wrong-side-law

Bounty hunters target wrong house in middle of night

Bounty hunters target wrong house in middle of night

 

 

KSVF 12 NEWS

by C.J. Cassidy

Jul 28, 2009

 

 

SIKESTON, MO (KFVS) –

How would you feel if someone showed up at your house in the middle of the night demanding to come inside?

A Sikeston couple says they were not about to take a chance and open the door especially when the strangers would not identify themselves.

Now that couple wants their story heard that the people at the their door turned out to be bounty hunters from Mississippi.

The couple ended up being the wrong targets.

 Now those bounty hunters face charges themselves.

Jeremy McNeill was taken into custody in Arkansas.  Tim Fugate was arrested in Scott County.  The pleaded not guilty to acting without a license in court Wednesday.

“We hear this bam, bam, bam at our back door!” said David Carnell.

That’s how he says the most terrifying night of his life began, with a stranger banging at his door.

“I said who is it? He says I’m here for Lawrence Carnell. I say there’s no Lawrence Carnell, I’m David Carnell, you’ve got the wrong house! What are you doing at my back door? He says open the door or I’m gonna kick it in!”Carnell says he grabbed his gun and aimed it through the glass doors at the man outside.

“I saw my laser shine through, and all of a sudden I looked down and he’s shining his laser back at me, at my chest.  I jumped back, and then Jenny comes running down the hall.”

“I come around the corner and the light shined on my chest,” Jenny Carnell, Danny’s wife said. “I was freaking out and jumped back.”

The couple says thankfully no one opened fire.  Instead, Jenny Carnell called 911.

“I felt like I was in a bad dream, it’s not real,” she said.

The couple eventually spotted a police car outside and opened the door.

“All of a sudden, a guy comes running up to me and says “Are you Lawrence Carnell?” I said I’m David Carnell, I told you who I was.

Why are you at my back door at three in the morning? He says “We are bounty hunters, we have the right to believe you are harboring a fugitive.””

And here’s the kicker: Carnell says the two men with the Tri-State Fugitive Apprehension Team even got the name of the fugitive wrong.

The warrant lists someone named Lawrence Butler, not Lawrence Carnell; and he’s wanted on a misdemeanor charge.

“Ultimately bounty hunters have more power than law enforcement,” said Sikeston Chief Drew Juden. “It’s a big concern for us.”

He says one of his officers escorted the bounty hunters to the Carnell’s property line, but it turns out the Mississippi men didn’t have the authority to take the action they did.

“They don’t have any authority in the state unless they are licensed or unless they have a licensed agent with them in Missouri.”

So should the bounty hunters have been allowed to go out there?

“I’m not sure if we have the right to restrict them.” Chief Juden said.

Now, the bounty hunters face felony charges for acting without a license, but David Carnell says that’s not enough.

“I’m not through stirring this pot,” Carnell said. “Those guys need to be taught a lesson.”

The two suspects will be arraigned in Scott County Wednesday morning.

 

Related Links

 

Direct Link:  http://www.kfvs12.com/global/story.asp?s=10807004