On the Trail of a Wanted Criminal: FOX 17 Rides Along With Local Bounty Hunter

Posted at 9:03 PM, May 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-19 22:31:05-04

MUSKEGON, Mich. (May 19, 2014) – Bounty hunters: they’re in our communities, armed and taking accused criminals off the streets.

They’re tracking down criminals that have jumped bail throughout West Michigan.

Bail bond companies and bounty hunters take the risk of bailing law breakers out, in hopes they’ll make all their court dates.  But, when they don’t they’re forced to find them on their own.

Bounty Hunting has been glamorized on TV, most people think it’s all about the ‘take down.’

FOX 17 went out searching for a parole absconder and learned the dangers of the business and the benefits it can bring to our community.

Tommy D. owner of Bad Boys Bail Bonds Fugitive Recovery and Bail Bonds in Muskegon has been a bounty hunter for more than 10 years.  While out with him we were searching for Felder Cowart, 48.

“We got a tip that Mr. Cowart might be south side of Muskegon, south side heights,” Tommy said.

They use the Bad Boys Bail Bonds Fugitive Recovery and Investigations Facebook page to get tips from the public, sometimes offering a reward for information leading to an arrest.

“So we’ve got two cars and about five of us today, he’s again 5’10”, 210 pounds; we don`t know if he`s going to be passive or aggressive,” Tommy said as we headed out to begin the search.

Cowart failed to show up for his court appearances and his bail cosigners didn’t want to pay up on his behalf.

Tommy explained how his business works.

“’Johnny’ gets arrested on a $10,000 cash or surety bond, ‘Johnny’s’ parents don’t have the $10,000 but they have $1,000 which they can pay us a 10% premium,” Tommy said.

That money is underwritten by an insurance company and regulated by the State of Michigan.

“They don’t get that $1,000 back, that’s our fee; we take a commission of that and share that with the insurance company that underwrites our bonds,” Tommy said.

“They don’t owe us anymore than that unless ‘Johnny’ doesn`t show up for court.”

So when ‘Johnny’ doesn’t show up for court, Tommy has to find him or pay the full bond himself making it a risky, sometimes dangerous job.

“ There’s kids in the house, there`s drugs, sometimes there’s drinking; there`s a lot of emotions that can get outta hand quick,” he said.

Sometimes an absconder gives up without a fight, but not in the case of Felder Cowart.  He was spotted at a local liquor store and was taken down after a struggle.

Luckily no one was hurt in the incident.  No one with Bad Boys Bail Bonds has ever been seriously hurt.  Tommy says there’s always a risk but it’s worth it to get the bad guys off the street.

“We`re taking fugitives, typically felons off the street so they’re not running around,” Tommy said.

But, once they’re arrested he says they’re fair.

“Our rule is treat everybody the same, treat everybody fair, it`s business not personal,” Tommy said.

Bad Boys Bail Bonds arrests around 100 people every year.  They also do private investigations and take a portion of their profits to give back to the community with youth mentor programs.