Word Warriors Public Speaking Club

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fugitive Recovery Investigation

I know what you are thinking... FUGITIVE RECOVERY??? Is there anything that this PI doesn't do? Well, as a matter of fact there are two services that I don't do.

Repossession of Vehicles - Because I don't have a death wish! JK I don't have the experience required to have a REPO license in California.

Security - I don't do Security because it is very competitive in California and very expensive for insurance. I would make more money not getting involved in Security work and sticking to investigative work.

Did I mention the Trash Recovery and Dumpster Diving service that I started called, "I Dumpster Dive!"? There is a write up by a fellow PI who has been in the biz for over 20 years. Here is a link to the article.


I would like to thank Patrick Baird for writing about my business and would like to point the rest of you to his blog which is very informative for wanna-be investigators, beginning investigators, and veteran investigators alike.


While I am not going to go too deep into the background on fugitive recovery, I would like to explain the way that Bail works. Bail is set at the courts by the judge at arraignment and is usually set according to the type of crime, possibility of flight risk, etc. An example of Bail is $50,000 bail for Felony Spousal Abuse. The family of the accused or someone else who wants to accept responsibility for the accused showing up to court pays the bail bondsman 10% of the total bail. In this case, $5000 plus due to the amount the bail bondsman may also require collateral of some type, such as a house, car, jewelry, etc.

If the accused doesn't show up to court then the bail bondsman hires a BEA (Bail Enforcement Agent) or a FRA (Fugitive Recovery Agent). In the state of California, due to high risk in fugitive recovery operations, most BEA's or FRA's are Private Investigators licensed by the state of California.

The BEA or FRA locates the accused who is now a fugitive, apprehends the fugitive and brings them to the local courts in order to exonerate the bond. The BEA or FRA at that point has done his/her job and is paid 10% of the original bond, i.e. 10% of $50,000 is $5000 plus expenses if the fugitive is located outside of the state of California. That is a brief down and dirty on Fugitive Recovery and I will make sure that I go into more detail after I get some much needed rest.

Back to my story... I was told by someone on a fugitive recovery forum about 1305(g) proceedings in California as an alternative to transporting the fugitive and I have now realized the ease of using this technique for out of state or out of country locates.

In the state of California, there is a penal code 1305 subsection g which states:

(g) In all cases of forfeiture where a defendant is not in custody
and is beyond the jurisdiction of the state, is temporarily
detained, by the bail agent, in the presence of a local law
enforcement officer of the jurisdiction in which the defendant is
located, and is positively identified by that law enforcement officer
as the wanted defendant in an affidavit signed under penalty of
perjury, and the prosecuting agency elects not to seek extradition
after being informed of the location of the defendant, the court
shall vacate the forfeiture and exonerate the bond on terms that are
just and do not exceed the terms imposed in similar situations with
respect to other forms of pretrial release.

Here is my first Bail Recovery case: I tracked the guy to Mississippi, contacted a Bail Agent in the area, was contacted out of the blue by the Fugitive's son who I explained the 1305(g) procedure to. The fugitive and the bail agent are in Mississippi taking care of business as we speak and it was all done from my office chair!) Pretty cool!

The first thing that I had my client, the Bail Agent do is to contact the District Attorney to get paperwork on whether they wanted to extradite, (they didn't want to extradite). I was getting ready to fly down there myself when the son called this morning. The fugitives biggest fear was losing his house that my BA had and was getting ready to record the deed if I wasn't able to get the paperwork filled out.

I sent the BEA a letter from the DA stating that they will not extradite my fugitive, a 1305(g) PC form, and all of the paperwork.

My BEA went to the Police Station and they refused to sign the form verifying that the fugitive is the same person listed on the warrant. The Detective was given the DA's letter and the paperwork, they had procedures and ran him through NCIC.

Here is the problem: In NCIC, the warrant says "Will Extradite." The Police Department contacted the Sheriff's Department's Wants and Warrants section where they were told by a clerk (not the DA) that the DA letter is a forgery, that my BEA was trying to trick them and that we were in a conspiracy, especially the PI Raymond Miller, who was orchestrating everything.

They had a few cops run out into the waiting area, throw the fugitive into handcuffs and then threaten my BEA with arrest for trying to trick them. My BEA stood his ground and kept his cool.

I had my Bail Agent here in California call the Supervising DA and the Supervising DA explained what happened, "Wants and Warrants made a mistake, They WILL NOT and DO NOT extradite unless their is a very serious charge, i.e. Murder.

I am now working on getting the booking paperwork, an affidavit from the BEA in the other jurisdiction, and hopefully a signature or memo from the booking agency to provide to the CA agency.

Here is an update:

I contacted the Sheriff's department in Mississippi to find out if they have released the fugitive. The Sheriff's department in Mississippi said that they are going to hold him until the Sheriff's Department in California contacts them.

I contacted the DA in California who said they were not going to extradite. I was told by the DA in California to contact the Wants and Warrants division of the Sheriff's Department in California. I contacted the Supervisor of Wants and Warrants in California. She was very rude and told me that she was not going to contact the DA's office in California and they need to contact her. I advised her that someone in Wants and Warrants told the agency in Mississippi that the letter from the DA was a forgery and for them to lock up my bail agent and to contact the other agency to arrest me for conspiracy. She raised her voice and got even more rude to me instead of apologizing for their screw-up and obvious lack of training. I told her that since they told the Sheriff in Mississippi that the DA was going to extradite, they are going to hold him until they hear otherwise from California. She told me to have the DA in California call her and snapped at me some more so, I hung up on her and called the DA in California.

I spoke with the DA in California and explained to him what the content of my conversation was like with the Supervisor of Wants and Warrants. He agreed to contact the Supervisor in Wants and Warrants to remedy this situation.

I called the DA in California back a half hour later and was told that the fugitive signed a paper for voluntary extradition and that the Sheriff in California was making arrangements to bring him back to California. They are waiting to hear from the Supervising DA in California whether or not they are going to continue with extradition proceedings.

After my client, the bail agent, spoke with her attorney, I had the BEA get a copy of the booking and the newspaper from today that has this incident in it to send to me.

The attorney is going to attempt to use this documentation at the hearing 10 days from now and hopefully after 3 months of work, it will finally pay off.

I am going to make an appointment with the department head over the Supervisor of Wants and Warrants to get a memo or letter sent to the department in Mississippi in an effort to restore normalcy in relations between the BEA and the police department. My secondary reason for making the appointment, is to hopefully have an internal investigation initiated on this whole miscommunication to prevent this type of thing from happening again.

I know this isn't over yet but I would like to show recognition to: Chip Mills from Rapid Release Bail Bonds in Hattiesburg, Mississippi for all his help on this difficult case.

By the way, the reason that we didn't snatch this guy up and bring him here to California is because of 2 reasons:

1) The fugitive is in bad health and probably would have health complications on the way here which would incur health costs as well as possible civil litigation if he were to die while in transport to California.

2) The client did not want to incur the expenses involved in transporting the fugitive here.

I think that this case is the reason why only those that really enjoy fugitive recovery, stay in the business. Call me a glutton for punishment but I am still going to stay in the BEA business and can't wait for my next assignment.

3RD UPDATE (and hopefully next to last):

The DA in California has decided not to extradite and is in the process of working out a way to release the fugitive.

There are a lot of departments involved that are "up in arms" over what happened. I can tell you what happened, the system doesn't work, never has worked, and this is just another example of how screwed up our courts are in California.

It is no wonder that the government can't catch Osama Bin Laden, they need to subcontract some REAL MEN, BEA's to go find him and bring him to justice without all the political BS.

The bond is for $55,000. The reason that the client had me locate the fugitive is because the county wouldn't let them record the deed to his property. This has turned into a complete mess but I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

They are planning on releasing the fugitive tomorrow and the BEA is in the process of having the 1305(g) PC paperwork filled out as well as the booking sheet and a newspaper.

Not getting paid by the client is a real possibility for most BEA's but where I live, there is no other BEA's that are willing to go into the area and apprehend fugitives.

The reason that I had to locate the Defendant is because he skipped on the original bond and it is scheduled for forfeiture on October 10th, 2007. Most importantly, since he skipped his bail, I followed him to another state otherwise it would have been a major logistical nightmare without pending forfeiture proceedings. BTW, because of overcrowding in California, OR's (Own Recognizance Bonds) are the norm here to assist in relieving the jails overcrowded population.

In Southern California, there is a large competition between Bail Agents that causes quite a few to write Bail for little to nothing down and/or no collateral. This state of the industry has caused many Bail Bond companies to go out of business and left the surety (Insurance companies that write the bonds) with the responsibility of locating fugitives from the defaulted bail bond agencies.

In my opinion, Southern California is not a good place for Bail Agents at the moment but it is a great place for an entrepreneurial BEA.