When a bounty hunter known as “Dog” captured convicted rapist and cosmetics heir Andrew Luster in Mexico, he was criticized by others in the profession, the Associated Press says. “He represents all of the things that bail agents are trying to get away from — the cowboy image, the renegade, bring ’em home dead or alive,” said Penny Harding of the California Bail Agents Association, which represents 500 bail bondsmen.
Duane “Dog” Chapman crossed a line with his tactics, starting with grabbing Luster as he stood at a taco stand Wednesday, fellow agents said. Luster was turned over to the FBI, who returned him to California, and a local prosecutor said the Hawaii-based bounty hunter would be charged with criminal association and illegal deprivation of liberty, which is like kidnapping without seeking ransom. Both charges carry a maximum of four years in prison.
“In my schools, we tell them cross-border stuff is a no-no,” said Mel Barth of the 3,200-member National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents. “You don’t go into a foreign country and try to kidnap.” Bounty hunters work for bail agents, tracking down those who fail to show up in court after bail has been posted. They usually are paid 10 percent to 15 percent of the bail amount. It’s a deal because bail companies lose the full amount to the court if a fugitive fails to show up for six months.
No national law regulates bounty hunters, AP says, and state laws vary widely: Some states don’t require a license, while others, including California, are vigilant, requiring background checks and strict training. A few, including Illinois and Oregon, have outlawed the profession.