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'Pretend' bounty hunters prevalent on Vegas streets

Reported by: Christine Kim
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Updated: 8/23/2013 1:13 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- Two suspected bounty hunter pretenders face new charges for impersonating a police officer, kidnapping, and burglary.

Christopher Ontiveros-Cruz, 28, and Charles Sean Rush, 29, who were indicted Aug. 14, were re-indicted Wednesday and returned to court this morning at the Regional Justice Center.

A bail enforcement agent who has run into the suspects before -- both as a bounty hunter and a cop – says the suspects failed to possess a license.

Adam Brooks, an operations commander of Las Vegas Fugitive Recovery, says that bounty hunting is a dangerous job that requires a state license. But he predicts that 15 to 20 people on the streets do not have one.

Subsequently, they don't go through the screening, courses and drug tests required; instead, using the title of a bounty hunter as a license to steal.

“People think if they pose as a bail enforcement agent they can get in the house and steal,” Brooks said.

Brooks said he had encountered the suspects previously at a bail bonds business.

“We knew they were unlicensed,” he said. “We had some words with them and told them they're going to get jammed up. Eventually someone's going to catch them.”

The two used exotic dancers, according to a police report, as bait to try and apprehend a pimp who had skipped out on an $80,000 bail.

According to the documents, one of the victims was hired to dance for a bachelor party. When she arrived, she was handcuffed and told she was under arrest for prostitution. The two allegedly took her Gucci purse, wallet and cash before letting her go.

She called police because she felt something was off, and officers eventually arrested the two not far away from the apartment.

The suspects told police they were bail agents.

Brooks says if an unlicensed person takes someone into custody it's considered kidnapping. When it comes to items, bounty hunters cannot take anything unless it was specifically put up for collateral.

“We are contracted to go in make that arrest,” he said. “Whatever is in your pockets, you go to jail with it. That's yours. We don’t have a right to take people’s money.”

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