Friday, July 15, 2005

Bounty hunter update

About a week ago, I wrote about a woman named Claudia Santana, who was dragged out of her house by two moronic bounty hunters, driven more than 30 miles away from her home at high rates of speed, then dumped at a police station after the idiots who took her figured out that she wasn't the person she was after for. Basically, I lambasted the bounty hunters for their actions and concluded that they should be either arrested and tried for kidnapping or that Mrs. Santana should sue the pants off the bail bond company for whom they worked. Over the weekend, I noticed some referrals coming from here., which appeared to be some sort of bulletin board about guns and gun control. One person mentioned my post, and drew this response from someone named Burt Sienna:
What you posted is a blog thing...written by a guy no different from some of the folks here. What he has to say could be just as bogus as a Cham spirit guide sighting, just as skewed as a Taraka report.

OK, yes it's a blog thing, but I did link to several news reports about the incident. I didn't just pull this incident out of my ass, as Burt seemed to be implying. But Burt didn't appear to notice or care. One thing that came up later was a desire to hear the bounty hunters' side.

You know what? I agree. I'd love to hear the bounty hunters' side! I dearly want to hear how they could justify ignoring multiple forms of ID in favor of a blurry picture when Mrs. Santana didn't even look much like the suspect. (For example, Mrs. Santana has a mole on her cheek; the suspect does not.) I'd really like to know why, when it finally sank into their thick skulls that this was the wrong woman, they didn't behave honorably but instead threatened her:
After learning they had the wrong woman, the "supervisor" poked his head into the van, "and told me he was going to be very good to me," Santana said. "But if I started crying, he might change his mind and not let me go."

He took off her handcuffs, shoved her out of the van and threw her identification papers after her. Then the men jumped into the front seat and drove off, she said.

Yes, I'd love to hear the bounty hunters' justification for such vile behavior. Honorable men would have apologized abjectly and at least offered to give her a ride home (although I'm sure anyone in Mrs. Santana's position would probably decline). I'm sure you would probably like to hear the bounty hunters' side, too, particularly since I've now learned just how moronic at least one of bounty hunters really was:
These bounty hunters were so dopey that one of them walked into the Rutherford police station a few days after the botched abduction, carrying an unlicensed pistol loaded with illegal hollow-nosed bullets. Yep, he was arrested and faces five years in prison if convicted.
How can such people be allowed to run around carrying guns and rousting people out of their homes in the middle of the night without a warrant, on sketchy identification, and with no oversight? Worse, how can the mayor of Rutherford (the town whose police were called and who allowed the bounty hunters to take Mrs. Santana on such sketchy evidence) be so unconcerned that she has said that she "knows only what she read in the newspapers" about the incident. She's the frickin' mayor; she should haul the police chief into her office and demand answers!

Unfortunately, in the case of New Jersey (and a few other states), it's the law, or rather lack of law, regulating bounty hunters that allows them to operate in such a manner. In essence, there is no oversight or law covering bounty hunting. There have been multiple attempts to pass legislation to regulate bounty hunters in the state, but even efforts to require something as basic as criminal background checks and fingerprinting have failed thus far. There is presently a bill working its way through the New Jersey legislature that would would require that bounty hunters who want to operate in New Jersey be licensed by the State Police; have five years of experience with a law enforcement agency; pass a criminal background check; and have an office in the state. It may not be enough, but it's a start in terms of preventing such an abuse happening again. Hopefully, the publicity surrounding this case will finally give the legislature the kick in the pants it apparently needs to pass such common sense legislation.

And, despite my previously expressed dislike of jumping straight to litigation, this case still remains one example where legal action is warranted--nay, demanded. I still hope that the bounty hunters are arrested and tried for kidnapping and that Mrs. Santana sues the pants off the bail bond company and the Borough of Rutherford. She's being way too nice by only asking for an apology and that the bounty hunters lose their jobs. If it had been me or one of my family members, I'd be filing a complaint with the police and demanding that the prosecutor try these guys for kidnapping. If that failed, then I'd find the biggest, nastiest shark I could and go after the town and bail bond company.

8 example(s) of insolence returned:


At 8/17/2005 7:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok here's a perspective from a Bail Enforcement Agent a/k/a "Bounty Hunter" who knows one of the Agents in question.

1. Fugitives often have fake or conflicting ID and alter their appearance, the Police grab the wrong subject by mistake all the time you just don't often hear about it because it's not reported in the news, any time a Bounty Hunter makes a mistake he is crucified by the media.

2. The "Bounty Hunters" did not drive the woman home because her husband was already there with his car because he followed them.

3. The "Bounty Hunter" that was arrested for carrying his gun was certified by PA to carry a gun while working, the Act 235 certification requires training, a psychological exam and background investigation, the "Bounty Hunter" believed he could legally carry in NJ while working pursuant to a federal law that covers armed guards who cross state lines (this law may or may not cover him, the court will sort that out).

4. The Police were on scene also believed that the woman was the fugitive.

5. If "Bounty Hunters" are outlawed then there is a good chance you or someone you know will be the victim of a crime committed by a bail jumper that would otherwise have been captured.
We capture over 50,000 fugitives a year all at no cost to the taxpayer, law enforcement does not have the resources to serve most of these warrants.

6. There are bad apples in every profession, people make mistakes so why whine about the "Bounter Hunter" who makes your world a safer place.

 

At 8/17/2005 11:28 PM, Blogger Orac said...

I note with great interest that you did not even attempt to refute the woman's contention that the bounty hunter "supervisor" threatened her once the error was revealed; so I'm guessing that Mrs. Santana's account of their reprehensible behavior was accurate. And blaming the cops because they screwed up too does not exonerate the bounty hunters. Finally, when cops arrest the wrong person, they still have to follow procedures designed to protect the suspect's rights and give the suspect access to an attorney. Given that, I do not accept without a great deal of skepticism your contention that bounty hunters make my world a "safer place," at least not now, given how unregulated and "wild west" they are.

 

At 8/21/2005 1:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The reason I did not comment on the womans claim of being threatened is that I was not there and the Agent involved never mentioned it, your post is the first I've heard of it, I doubt they threatened her, maybe she felt threatened or just made it up I don't know.

As for giving Mrs. Santana access to an attorney that would be something the Police would be required to do after they had her in custody and intended to question her about a crime, "Bounty Hunters" do not investigate crimes or file charges, they RE-ARREST a person released on a bail bond who fails to appear on existing charges and surrender that person to the custody of the Court at which time they can contact their attorney in accordance with the rules of the jail, for safety reasons prisoners are not allowed to contact anyone during transport.

Bail Bondsman and their Agents who are sometimes referred to as "Bounty Hunters" have specific arrest authority pursuant to a U.S. Supreme Court Ruling and State Law, while our functions are similar to that of the Police we operate under different statutes and while we have less restrictions when it comes to crossing State Lines and searching property our authority / jurisdiction is limited to a specific defendant.

Mrs. Santana was the victim of mistaken identity and contrary to your belief I'm not blaming the Police, I simply pointed out that the Police also make these kinds of mistakes, I think this should be handled as a civil matter and that Mrs. Santana is entitled to be compensated for what happened to her.

I think your unfairly passing judgement on all Bail Enforcement Agents based on the blunders of a few, many BEA's are former Law Enforcement make safe arrests without incident, every once and a while a BEA will screw up and then we all get trashed by the media.

 

At 8/21/2005 10:28 AM, Blogger Orac said...

At least you seem to be admitting that these guys screwed up.

These guys are not the police. We don't need them; so when they screw up it is less forgivable.

Finally, you also give me no reason to doubt Mrs. Santana's account of what happened. Do you have any concrete reason to think that she made up her story about the agents threatening her? Why shoud I doubt that the supervisor who came said exactly what she claimed he did? Mrs. Santana and her husband don't come across as deceptive people to me.

Basic manners: An apology would have gone a long way; and by all accounts the agents didn't have the decency to offer even a weak apology. If they had apologized, and at least offered her a ride back (her husband being there is a red herring), do you think this story would have gotten the play in the media that it did. I sure don't.

 

At 8/21/2005 12:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In response to your comment that BEA's are not needed here's a brief reply.

1. Without BEA's many Bondsman and their insurers would not be able to continue writing bonds.

The Result: Jails become very full since less defendants are released pending case resolution, then more officers need to be hired to supervise additional inmates, then larger jails needs to be built to accomodate these inmates, then everyones taxes go up to pay for it.

2. Some innocent people will stay in jail pending trial because they can't afford to pay their bail.

3. The defendants released on cash or property bond and fail to appear are not pursued by Law Enforcement because they don't have the resources so either criminals get away with jumping bail and victimize more people or many many more Cops are hired to chase them at great cost to the tax payer = taxes go up.

4. BEA's cost the taxpayer nothing because we are paid by the bondsman or his insurer, without us the alternative is the above 3 scenarios.

 

At 8/22/2005 7:41 AM, Blogger Orac said...

I have no real problem with bail bondsmen per se. I have a problem with how they operate in many states today, mainly because it is quite clear that they need to be tightly regulated to protect the rights of the accused and prevent incidents like the Santana incident. Hell, these guys carry guns and apprehend people in the middle of the night; yet there are practically no regulations about standards they have to meet to be in the business and there is no licensure and little or no accountability. Unless Santana sues the pants off the company (which she should, by the way), there is no recourse, and if she bankrupts the company, then the guys working there who are more professional will suffer. Similarly, I'm not letting the Rutherford Police off the hook, either. I hope they get a taste of that same action for letting these guys take Santana.

 

At 8/22/2005 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe the Police are at fault, they along with the BEA's believed that Santana was the woman they were looking for, this was not an intentional deprivation of her rights, she should be compensated accordingly.

As for Laws regulating BEA's your correct that some States like NJ need to regulate the profession more, however many States already have strict regulations and licensing requirements for BEA's, below are the requirements for NY.

1a. “Bail enforcement agent” shall mean and include only the business of bail enforcement and shall also mean and include, separately or collectively, the engaging in the business of enforcing the terms and conditions of a person’s release from custody on bail in a criminal proceeding, including locating, apprehending and returning any such person released from custody on bail who has failed to appear at any stage of a criminal proceeding to answer the charge before the court in which he may be prosecuted. The foregoing shall not be deemed to include the business of persons licensed under the provisions of §24-a or subdivision 3-b of section 50 of the Workers’ Compensation Law or representing employers or groups of employers insured under the Workers’ Compensation Law in the State Insurance Fund, nor persons engaged in the business of adjusters for insurance companies nor public adjusters licensed by the Superintendent of Insurance under the Insurance Law of this state or the business of private investigator, watch, guard or patrol agency or security guard company.
2. “Watch, guard or patrol agency” shall mean and include the business of watch, guard or patrol agency and shall also mean and include, separately or collectively, the furnishing, for hire or reward, of watchmen or guards or private patrolmen or other persons to protect persons or property or to prevent the theft or the unlawful taking of goods, wares and merchandise, or to prevent the misappropriation or concealment of goods, wares or merchandise, money, bonds, stocks, choses in action, notes or other valuable documents, papers, and articles of value, or to procure the return thereof or the performing of the service of such guard or other person for any of said purposes. The foregoing shall not be deemed to include the business of persons licensed by the industrial commissioner under the provisions of §24-a or subdivision 3-b of §50 of the Workers’ Compensation Law or representing employers or groups of employers insured under the Workers’ Compensation Law in the State Insurance Fund, nor persons engaged in the business of adjusters for insurance companies nor public adjusters licensed by the Superintendent of Insurance under the Insurance Law of this State.
3. The term the “business of private investigator,” and the term “private investigator” shall mean and include any person, firm, limited liability company, partnership or corporation engaged in the business of private investigator as defined in subdivision one of this section with or without the assistance of any employee or employees. The term “business of watch, guard or patrol agency” and the term “watch, guard or patrol agency” shall mean and include any person, firm, limited liability company, partnership or corporation engaged in the business of watch, guard or patrol agency as defined in subdivision two of this section or the business of a security guard company as defined in subdivision five of §89-f of this Chapter with or without the assistance of any employee or employees. For the purposes of this article, a public entity as defined in subdivision seven of §89-f of this Chapter or a security guard company which utilizes security guards solely for its own proprietary use shall not be deemed a security guard company.
4. The term “business of bail enforcement agent” and the term “bail enforcement agent” shall mean and include any person, firm, company, partnership or corporation engaged in the business of bail enforcement
as defined in subdivision 1-a of this section with or without the assistance of any employee or employees.

§72. Application for licenses
Any person, firm, partnership, limited liability company or corporation intending to conduct the business of private investigator, business of bail enforcement agent or the business of watch, guard or patrol agency, and any person, firm, partnership, limited liability company or corporation intending to conduct the business of furnishing or supplying information as to the personal character of any person or firm, or as to the character or kind of the business and occupation of any person, firm or corporation, society or association or any person or group of persons, or intending to own, conduct, manage or maintain a bureau or agency for the above mentioned purposes, or while engaged in other lawful business activities also intending to engage in any one or more of the activities set forth in §71 of this article except exclusively as to the financial rating, standing, and credit responsibility of persons, firms, companies or corporations or as to personal habits and financial responsibility of applicants for insurance indemnity bonds or commercial credit or of claimants under insurance policies shall, for each such bureau or agency and for each and every sub-agency, office and branch office to be owned, conducted, managed or maintained by such person, firm, partnership, limited liability company or corporation for the conduct of such business, file in the office of the Department of State a written application, on forms provided by the department containing such information and documentation, including fingerprints, as the Secretary of State may require by rule and regulation.
1. If the applicant is a person, the application shall be subscribed by such person, and if the applicant is a firm or partnership the application shall be subscribed by each individual composing or intending to compose such firm or partnership. The application shall state the full name, age, residences within the past three years, present and previous occupations of each person or individual so signing the same, that each person or individual is a citizen of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in the United States and shall also specify the name of the city, town or village, stating the street and number, if the premises have a street and number, and otherwise such apt description as will reasonably indicate the location thereof, where is to be located the principal place of business and the bureau, agency, sub- agency, office or branch office for which the license is desired, and such further facts as may be required by the Department of State to show the good character, competency and integrity of each person or individual so signing such application. Each person or individual signing such application shall, together with such application, submit to the Department of State, his photograph, taken within six months prior thereto in duplicate, in passport size and also two sets of fingerprints of his two hands recorded in such manner as may be specified by the Secretary of State or the Secretary of State’s authorized representative. Before approving such application it shall be the duty of the Secretary of State or the Secretary of State’s authorized representative to forward one copy of such fingerprints to the Division of Criminal Justice Services. Upon receipt of such fingerprints, such division shall forward to the Secretary of State a report with respect to the applicant’s previous criminal history, if any, or a statement that the applicant has no previous criminal history according to its files. If additional copies of fingerprints are required the applicant shall furnish them upon request. The Secretary shall reveal the name of the applicant to the chief of police and the district attorney of the applicant’s residence and of the proposed place of business and shall request of them a report concerning the applicant’s character in the event they shall have information concerning it. The Secretary shall take such other steps as may be necessary to investigate the honesty, good character and integrity of each applicant. Every such applicant for a license as private investigator shall establish to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State (a) if the applicant be a person, or, (b) in the case of a firm, limited liability company, partnership or corporation, at least one member of such firm, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, has been regularly employed, for a period of not less than three years, undertaking such investigations as those described as performed by a private investigator in subdivision one of §71 of this article, as a sheriff, police officer in a city or county police department, or the Division of State Police, investigator in an agency of the state, county, or United States government, or employee of a licensed private investigator, or has had an equivalent position and experience or that such person or member was an employee of a police department who rendered service therein as a police officer for not less than twenty years or was an employee of a fire department who rendered service therein as a fire marshal for not less than 20 years. However, employment as a watchman, guard or private patrolman shall not be considered employment as a “private investigator” for purposes of this section. Every such applicant for a license as watch, guard or patrol agency shall establish to the satisfaction of the Secretary of State (a) if the applicant be a person, or, (b) in the case of a firm, limited liability company, partnership or corporation, at least one member of such firm, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, has been regularly employed, for a period of not less than two years, performing such duties or providing such services as described as those performed or furnished by a watch, guard or patrol agency in subdivision two of §71 of this article, as a sheriff, police officer in a city or county police department, or employee of an agency of the state, county or United States government, or licensed private investigator or watch, guard or patrol agency, or has had an equivalent position and experience; qualifying experience shall have been completed within such period of time and at such time prior to the filing of the application as shall be satisfactory to the Secretary of State. The person or member meeting the experience requirement under subdivision one of this section and the person responsible for the operation and management of each bureau, agency, sub-agency, office or branch office of the applicant shall provide sufficient proof of having taken and passed a written examination prescribed by the Secretary of State to test their understanding of their rights, duties and powers as a private investigator and/or watchman, guard or private patrolman, depending upon the work to be performed under the license. In the case of an application subscribed by a resident of the State of New York such application shall be approved, as to each resident person or individual so signing the same, but not less than five reputable citizens of the community in which such applicant resides or transacts business, or in which it is proposed to own, conduct, manage or maintain the bureau, agency, sub-agency, office or branch office for which the license is desired, each of whom shall subscribe and affirm as true, under the penalties of perjury, that he has personally known the said person or individual for a period of at least five years prior to the filing of such application, that he has read such application and believes each of the statements made therein to be true, that such person is honest, of good character and competent, and not related or connected to the person so certifying by blood or marriage. In the case of an application subscribed by a non-resident of the State of New York such application shall be approved, as to each non-resident person or individual so signing the same by not less than five reputable citizens of the community in which such applicant resides. The certificate of approval shall be signed by such reputable citizens and duly verified and acknowledged by them before an officer authorized to take oaths and acknowledgment of deeds. All provisions of this section, applying to corporations, shall also apply to joint-stock associations, except that each such joint-stock association shall file a duly certified copy of its certificate of organization in the place of the certified copy of its certificate of incorporation herein required.
1a. Every such applicant for a license as bail enforcement agent shall establish to the satisfaction of the secretary of state (a) if the applicant be a person, or (b) in the case of a firm, company, partnership, or corporation, at least one member of such firm, partnership, company or corporation, has been regularly employed, for a period of not less than three years, performing such duties or providing such services as described as those furnished by a bail enforcement agent in § 71 of this article, as a sheriff, police officer in a city or county police department, or the Division of State Police, investigator in an agency of the state, county, or United States government, or employee of a licensed private investigator, or has had an equivalent position and experience or that such person or member was an employee of a police department who rendered service therein as a police officer for not less than 20 years or was an employee of a fire department who rendered service therein as a fire marshal for not less than 20 years.
1-b. The person or member meeting the experience requirement under subdivisions 1 and 1-a of this section and any person or member of such firm, company, partnership or corporation who engages in the apprehension and return of suspects who fail to appear before the court must either satisfactorily complete a basic certification course in training for bail enforcement agents offered by a provider that is approved by the Secretary of State; or such person or member must have served as a police officer, as that term is defined in subdivision 34 of section 1.20 of the Criminal Procedure Law, for a period of not less than three years. The basic course of training shall include at least 25 hours of training approved by the Secretary of State and must include instruction on issues involved with the rights and limitations involving the bailee/ fugitive who signs a contract with the bail enforcement agent. Completion of the course shall be for educational purposes only and not intended to confer the power of arrest of a peace officer or public officer, or agent of any federal, state, or local government, unless the person is so employed by a governmental agency.
2. If the applicant is a corporation, the application shall be subscribed by the president, secretary, treasurer, and all other officers and directors working for such corporation within the State of New York, and shall specify the name of the corporation, the date and place of its incorporation, the location of its principal place of business, and the name of the city, town or village, stating the street and number, if the premises have a street and number, and otherwise such apt description as will reasonably indicate the location thereof, where is to be located the bureau, agency, sub-agency, office or branch office for which the license is desired, the amount of the corporation’s outstanding paid up capital stock and whether paid in cash or property, and, if in property, the nature of the same, and shall be accompanied by a duly certified copy of its certificate of incorporation. Each and every requirement as to character of subdivision one of this section as to a person or individual member of a firm or partnership shall apply to the president, secretary, treasurer and all other officers and directors working for such corporation within the State of New York and each such officer and director, his successor and successors shall prior to entering upon the discharge of his duties subscribe a like statement, approved in like manner, as is by said subdivision one prescribed in the case of a person or individual member of a firm or partnership.
3. Each person subscribing an application pursuant to this section shall affirm that the statements therein are true under the penalties of perjury.
4. The Secretary of State may deny, suspend or revoke the license of a corporation if, at any time, 10 per centum or more of the corporate stock is held by a person who cannot meet the character standard set for an individual licensee.

 

At 8/28/2005 11:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never heard of a fugitive calling 911, there wasn't any conflicting id's all four of them had the name claudia m.santana with the same dob three of them with picture, maybe you can have plastic surgery and change your nose, but how can you change your skin color or implant a big mole on your chin and change the shape of your eyes? If they are so profesional how can they go to a house in the middle of the night with a blurry black and white enlarge photocopy of a picture, with unlisense guns loaded with these type of bullets that can kill a horse & perforate a bullet proof vest. And by the way they weren't looking for claudia santana, they were looking for claudia patricia rincon, they never explained that on that night, they lied saying that this person gave the same address when she was arrested, They refuse to say when was she arrested, later it was publish that her arrest was in 2003 and the santanas just bought the house in 2004, this isn't a case of mistaken identety it was the worst type of abuse made by people who think they have the power to do whatever, just to collect their money. And she wasnt released to her husband she was left outside a police station without any explanation or apolgy, the last words of the bounty hunter were "I'm going to be good to you, but you have to calm down and stop crying or you are going to make me change my mind and you will have to stay here overnight" we still dont know if he meant inside the van or inside the police sation, any way you see it it's horrible and to hear someone justifying something like that only makes you sick, I just hope it doesnt happen to them or their wifes.

 

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