It may come as a surprise that the practice of a bail bondsman is almost exclusively found in the United States and the Philippines. If a defendant released on bond fails to appear in court, the bond agent is allowed by law to apprehend the runaway in order to bring them to the jurisdiction of the court. This can be accomplished through the employment of bounty hunters, and in some states, bail bondsmen themselves can act in that role.
Unsurprisingly, the offender at large will oftentimes refuse to be detained willingly, prompting unscrupulous characters with questionable tactics to abuse their authority in a malevolent manner. The following examines ten cases of bizarre and asinine agents whose immoral practices have lead to unthinkable mishaps and horrors.
10 The First Bondsman
Records dating back four millennia indicate that the earliest practice of posting bail began in what is now Iraq, when wealthy landowners would use their sheep as collateral to secure their release. It would not be until 1898 that the first bail bonds business was opened in the United States by a shady San Francisco saloon owner named Peter P. McDonough.
Lending the majority of bail as a favor to his favorite bar patrons, McDonough promptly built a successful and profitable business while simultaneously becoming a central crime boss on the West Coast. By 1910, politicians and law enforcement were in McDonough’s pocket, allowing him full control of the city’s gambling, prostitution, and bootlegging enterprise.
Due to the pressure of the Depression as well as rising social militancy, McDonough’s empire began to unravel by the early 1930s, and in 1935, he was officially branded California’s “fountainhead of corruption” by the FBI. When his political pull had ceased to exist, McDonough was stripped of his bail bond license and ultimately faded into obscurity after nearly four decades of being untouchable.
9 The Ladies’ Man
By all appearances, Christopher and Kaylee Hauptman were the perfect couple. When the newlyweds were not preoccupied with operating their business, PA Bail and Recovery, in Coal Township, Pennsylvania, Kaylee took to Facebook to remind the world how flawless her marriage was, stating, “Spending quality time with my amazing husband. Loyalty and dedication. Till death do us part.” Little did she know that in September 2016, her beloved husband of less than a year secretly married another woman: Kaylee’s 18-year-old daughter from a previous relationship.
Upon Christopher’s arrest, officials discovered that he had been using the name “Hauptman” as an alias due to prior convictions and that his true identity was Christopher Buckley. At his arraignment, the 43-year-old pleaded with the judge for his release, arguing that criminals would run “buck wild” if he were to remain in jail. Nevertheless, Christopher’s attempts at persuasion proved inconsequential, and he remained imprisoned on four counts of felony weapons charges and one charge of misdemeanor bigamy.
In the end, the bigamist bondsman received a sentence of one to two years in county prison followed by ten years of probation. Staying true to American justice—or lack thereof—Christopher was given credit for the 332 days that he had already served and was subsequently released from jail.
8 An Inconvenient Mix-Up
In February 2016, when Ebony Russell paid $2,000 to the Accredited Surety and Casualty Company, she expected a prompt reunion with her recently incarcerated 18-year-old son, Darren Stokes. However, as the days passed without a promising sign of her son’s release, Ebony’s concerns were “brushed off” by the company’s bail bondsman, who unknowingly filed paperwork for the wrong Darren Stokes. Instead, a 57-year-old convict with a long rap sheet was sprung from a New York jail, albeit for a limited period of time. Less than two weeks after his erroneous release, the older Stokes was arrested yet again for robbing a convenience store. Meanwhile, the locked up high school student remained jailed for an additional three weeks before the inconvenient mix-up was corrected.
Despite the younger Stokes’s release, the longevity of his freedom remains in question. Along with felony charges stemming from illegal possession of firearms, the 18-year-old faces significant prison time for forgery and theft. Perhaps in time, the two Stokeses can reunite, sharing a laugh as well as jail cell while reminiscing about their favorite pastimes of debauchery and crime.
7 Indecent Proposal
A Virginia bondsman known as “Mr. Fast” earned quite a reputation over the years among his impecunious female clientele. During countless jailhouse meetings, 61-year-old Vladimir Tarabay of Fast Bail Bonding would inquire about his clients’ financial state, hoping that they were in dire straits. Those who could not afford the bond would have to agree to his terms, which entailed spending an evening at his South Richmond home, where they would be instructed to perform sexual acts on the charitable bondsman. Tarabay’s heyday would come to a crashing end after two victims came forward, prompting an investigation.
Eventually, more than 20 women with similar accounts spoke out against Tarabay, leading to his arrest in July 2016. He was charged with numerous counts of threats, solicitation of prostitution, intimidation for money, and forcible sodomy, to all of which he pleaded no contest. At his sentencing, Tarabay asked for mercy while soliciting his two daughters and son to speak in his defense. Despite his children portraying their father as a “family man with a strong faith,” Tarabay was sentenced to 30 months in prison.
6 Criminal Trespassing
In the early morning hours of January 30, 2017, 25-year-old rookie bounty hunter Duane Wilson III arrived at a home in Omaha, Nebraska, searching for a teen who had failed to appear at his court hearing. Without notice, Wilson broke through the front door to the family residence and proceeded to sweep through the home, “clearing” rooms with his gun drawn. After terrorizing the family of three for an unspecified period of time, it became apparent to Wilson that he was at the wrong address. The SWAT team wannabe was charged with felony burglary after the family filed a police report, stating that their 13-year-old daughter is “now afraid to sleep in her own home and (is) now talking with her school counselor as she is afraid all the time.”
The incident also prompted criticism of Wilson’s employer, Gallagher Bail Bonds, whose employees were compared to vigilantes. Ultimately, the charges against Wilson were dismissed, as his actions in line with prior rulings about what bounty hunters are allowed to do.
A similar asinine mishap occurred in 2015, when 11 members of two bond recovery companies surrounded an Arizona home with their guns drawn at 10:00 PM, searching for fugitive from Oklahoma. The only problem was that the occupant of the residence was Joe Yahner, the chief of the Phoenix Police Department. Following a lengthy standoff, the owner of one of the companies was arrested and charged with criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct.
5 A Bloody Christmas
On Christmas Day 2015, police searched the home of 51-year-old Kevin Watkins, an Indianapolis bail bondsman who was a suspect in the disappearance of 15-year-old Timmee Jackson and 16-year-old Dionne Williams. Though the search was ineffective at uncovering a body, Watkins was arrested due to the overwhelming physical evidence suggesting that a murder had taken place. Specifically, police found a large trail of blood, pieces of brain matter, and bloody clothes on Watkins’s property as well as at his bail bonds business.
During a lengthy interrogation, the bail bondsman admitted to murdering the teens, claiming that they had burglarized his home and that the killings were merely in self-defense. Regardless of his fabricated narrative, evidence showed that Watkins “took extraordinary steps to cover up the crime.” To make matters worse for his defense, the body of Timmee Jackson was recovered from a pond in February 2016, followed by the discovery of Dionne Williams’s remains a few months later.
Autopsies showed that both teens had sustained seven blows each with a tomahawk and that almost all the wounds were to the back of their heads. Following a week-long trial in March 2018, Watkins was found guilty of murder and is currently awaiting his sentence.
Working on tips to track down a client who had skipped out on a bail agreement, 46-year-old veteran bail bondsman Edward Mumbert found himself crossing state lines in the fall of 2016. Known affectionately as “Big Ed,” Mumbert, along with his friend and pilot Robert Drescher, had flown to Reno, Nevada, where they detained 34-year-old Ronnie Hernandez, bringing an end to their frustrating game of cat and mouse.
Once the men had restrained their wanted passenger in the rear seat of Drescher’s small Piper Cherokee aircraft, they departed Reno-Tahoe International Airport bound for San Carlos, California. Merely seconds after takeoff, however, the aircraft’s right wing struck a lamppost, causing the plane to crash into one of the airport’s long-term parking lots. In an instant, 15 vehicles were incinerated, along with all three passengers on board. By the time rescue crews extinguished the inferno, they discovered the unsightly scene of Hernandez’s charred remains still strapped to her seat, with her hands chained to her waist and her smoldering legs cuffed by irons. Such a haunting image, destined to be ingrained in the memories of the first responders, was compounded by the date’s eerie significance: September 11.
3 Bad Grandpa
Family and friends were apoplectic following an aggressive 5:30 AM SWAT team raid on the home of 79-year-old Jack Glenning. From all appearances, the great-grandfather from Orange, California, was being wrongfully victimized, that is until the bondsman’s sinister business practices came to light. According to the US Department of Justice, Glenning had secret ties to the Mexican mafia, whom he’d call upon to be his violent enforcers to those who were delinquent in making payments to his bail bond operations.
Serving as a conduit to the underworld organization, Glenning furthered the enterprise’s brutal reputation by sending his goons to employ lethal measures in exchange for his savvy business expertise. Specifically, Glenning helped fund the OC Mexican mafia’s activities and plotted ways to financially benefit the gang. As his involvement in the organization intensified, so did his menacing tactics, such as aiding in the location of a witness to a murder committed by the mafia. In spite of the irrefutable evidence mounted against him, Glenning’s elderly and frail demeanor pulled on the heartstrings of a sympathetic judge, who sentenced him in 2015 to 366 days in prison, followed by probation and “a ban on future Mexican Mafia association.”
2 An Outstanding Balance
In 2010, an unidentified man jumped bail, leaving F & N Bail Bonds (aka Junkie’s Bail Bonds) of Festus, Missouri, with an unpaid balance of $225. Irate after being cheated, three bondsmen set out to recoup their funds as well as enforce their own sick and twisted form of justice. After tracking the man down in St. Louis, they took him to the bond office, where he was handcuffed and ordered to drop his pants. The bondsmen then proceeded to rub a cloth drenched in pepper spray onto the man’s genitals and eyes. The barbaric act was repeated several times before the bondsmen provided their client with a warm washcloth—which caused the pores to open, making the pain “15 times worse.”
Afterward, the three men drove aimlessly for several hours with the heat on high, all the while offering the man cold water in exchange for oral sex. When boredom began to set in for the troubled trio, Sean Baker, 33, Kevin Ritrovato, 28, and Shawn Boyer, 38, brought the man to jail to be processed accordingly. Naturally, authorities took note of the bail jumper’s battered state, which led to the bondsmen being charged with felony restraint and misdemeanor assault. It is unknown if the remaining balance of $225 to Junkie’s Bail Bonds was ever settled.
In 2015, while responding to reports about a domestic disturbance at a Kansas City, Kansas, home, authorities uncovered a ghastly scene: the decomposing, half-eaten human remains of seven-year-old Adrian Jones. The horrors the child was subjected to were reminiscent of medieval practices. The boy was brutalized at the hands of his own father, 46-year-old bail bondsman Michael Jones. After enduring years of starvation and torture that included being strapped to an inversion table, shocked by stun guns, and locked naked inside a modified shower stall, Adrian’s young life slipped away.
Further indicating the morbidity of Jones’s twisted mind, over 30 surveillance cameras were installed throughout the home, documenting the unfathomable perils of Adrian’s last days. Choking back tears, Detective Stuart Littlefield confirmed that what was left of the boy’s body was fed to pigs inside the family’s barn. Despite insisting that she, too, was a helpless victim of her abusive husband, the boy’s stepmother, 31-year-old Heather Jones, was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Michael Jones pleaded guilty to the same charge and was sentenced to life in prison, with eligibility for parole after 25 years.
Adam is just a hubcap trying to hold on in the fast lane.