Wesley Hills ‘bounty hunter’ accused of menacing people with unlicensed gun
by Steve Lieberman
Original: Jan. 30, 2012
Updated: May 21, 2012
A self-proclaimed bounty hunter with a history of arrests has been charged with possessing an unlicensed gun and menacing people he was supposedly interviewing as potential interns at his Wesley Hills office, police said Monday.
Scott Bernstein, 53, a private investigator who posed as a cop in the Laci Peterson murder case in California and was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes” report on bounty hunters, was accused of brandishing a pistol in a menacing manner at two people at his office on Jan. 5, police said.
The two people became scared by his actions and reported the incident to the police, Ramapo Detective Sgt. John Lynch said today. Bernstein was interviewing people at his home-office at 87 Spook Rock Road , Lynch said.
Based on his felony conviction in California and misdemeanor convictions in New York, Bernstein doesn’t have a permit to possess firearms, Lynch said.
“There’s no record of him having a pistol permit,” Lynch said. “We went and obtained an arrest warrant for him and search warrant for his home-office.”
Police charged Bernstein with one count of third-degree criminal possession of a a weapon and two counts of second-degree menacing.
Bernstein’s lawyer, William Reddy, said the charges would be challenged in court. Reddy said the complaintants were slow to call the police and the charges fabricated, which would mean the warrants were obtained without legal cause.
“As per documents drafted by the police, it appears that the persons who accused him of menacing waited more than a week before reporting it to the police,” Reddy said. “If they really were threatened with a weapon, they would have reported it immediately. This matter will be defended in court, and the truth will prevail.”
Ramapo officers arrested Bernstein with the assistance of the Rockland Rescue Entry and Counter Terrorism team, the county’s SWAT team.
Lynch said the officers found two semiautomatic pistols and Chuka sticks, a martial arts weapon, during the search.
Bernstein has been arrested before in Ramapo and served community service for pulling over a driver and causing $936 worth of damage to her car in 2005.
In 2005, Bernstein, in a plea agreement with prosecutors, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of second-degree criminal impersonation, misdemeanors.
Bernstein admitted to pulling over cars – including an off-duty South Nyack-Grand View police officer – while using his black Dodge Intrepid, which was equipped with emergency lights and sirens. The incidents occurred in January and February.
In California, Bernstein had been convicted of posing as a police officer and flashing a badge to get information related to the disappearance of Laci Peterson, whose husband, Scott, was eventually convicted of murder.
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