Hawaii bounty hunter
in jail after posting bail

PUERTO VALLARTA, Mexico >> Three bounty hunters, a reality-TV producer and an actor were charged yesterday with illegal deprivation of liberty and criminal association after they captured one of California's most-wanted fugitives in this resort city.

Mexican officials argue that Hawaii-based bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman and the rest of his crew should have gone to police instead of trying to whisk convicted rapist and cosmetics heir Andrew Luster out of Mexico for a reward.

Both charges carry a maximum of four years in prison, prosecutor Marco Roberto Juarez said yesterday.

Chapman, his brother Timothy, his son Leland, reality-TV producer Jeff Sells and actor Boris Krutonog were arrested about two hours after they captured Luster near a Puerto Vallarta taco stand where he had just ordered breakfast. On Thursday, authorities expelled Luster to the United States.

The five remaining Americans posted bail after their court appearance yesterday, but instead of being set free, they were turned over to the National Immigration Institute for questioning and later were returned to a city jail for the night.

Chapman's actions earned the disdain of many colleagues.

"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, executive director of the California Bail Agents Association, which represents 500 bail bondsmen.

Chapman crossed a line with his tactics, starting with crossing the border into Mexico.

"In my schools we tell them cross-border stuff is a no-no," said Mel Barth, executive director of the 3,200-member National Association of Bail Enforcement Agents.

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.

Chapman's incentive in this case was unclear because Luster made his own $1 million bail, authorities said.

Despite Hollywood's guns-and-fists image, professional bounty hunters say they rarely resort to violence.

"We always joke our biggest weapon is the phone," said bounty hunter Craig Stephenson.


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