While most bounty hunters follow the letter of the law, there are some bad apples in the bunch. Thirty-one bounty hunters in Northern California paid the price for breaking the law when they were arrested in September 2015.
These arrests resulted from the 14-month-long investigation that went by the codename Operation Bail Out in which the California Department of Insurance focused on a number of bail bonds companies. Bounty hunters who worked for Luna Bail Bonds, Bail Hotline, Aladdin Bail Bonds, and four unnamed companies took business away from their competitors by working with jail inmates who provided information about newly booked individuals Northern California’s jails. The bounty hunters then rewarded the inmates by adding money to their jail accounts.
The Monterey Herald described one of these bounty hunters in detail. Veronica Melero worked as a bounty hunter in 12 counties in Northern California. She found herself on the receiving end of the justice system after her arrest, and had to post her own bail.
California’s Insurance Commissioner, Dave Jones, was quoted in the paper as saying that “Bail agents…should be free from corruption.” In addition to the improper use of inmates, one of the bail agents hired a felon to work as a bounty hunter, which violated the Bail Fugitive Recovery Persons Act.
The crimes of these rogue bounty hunters are considered felonies, but it’s not clear how much time, if any, they will spend in jail. It is possible that the charges could be reduced to misdemeanors. If convicted, the bounty hunters may lose their license and/or have to pay a fine.
The adage that crime doesn’t pay takes on a whole new meaning when those who are supposed to be supporting law enforcement are instead skirting justice.