No plea in York bail bonds agent's case
A scheduled guilty-plea hearing Friday morning in Lancaster County court for York-based bail agent Michael Hansen Sr. did not happen as planned, and for now it appears he will stand trial.
"Lancaster County Judge Howard Knisely has placed this case on a list for trial and, at this point, that is how our office intends to proceed," said Brett Hambright, spokesman for the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.
"Mr. Hansen decided not to plead guilty today, which is well within his legal right," he wrote in an email.
Hambright said there was never a negotiated plea agreement made between prosecutors and Hansen. The bail agent's alleged victim in the case has said she was notified by an official involved in the case that an agreement had been made.
Hansen is accused of illegally arresting Lisa Brown, a Lancaster City woman, smashing up her home and stealing her dog in an effort to force her to tell them where her bail-skipping ex-boyfriend was.
Brown told The York Dispatch on Thursday that she was notified earlier this week that a plea agreement had been reached. She said she is opposed to one.
"It's not fair," the 45-year-old grandmother of six said. "They're trying to drop the felony charge for (Hansen allegedly) stealing my dog down to a misdemeanor. After what he did to me, it's just sad."
Lancaster County court records indicated Hansen, 50, of Emerald Avenue in West Manchester Township, had a guilty-plea hearing scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday.
"It hurts me so bad," Brown said. "I think they think I'm a nobody, so they can do this to me and get away with it. They're allowing him to get away with it."
She said she's unsure the presiding judge has even been informed that video of the incident exists, shot by a family member of Brown's. The York Dispatch obtained a copy of the video Thursday.
More than probation: Hambright earlier said it's not appropriate to publicly disclose the exact terms of plea negotiations.
"But we can say we are absolutely not going to present a negotiated plea to the judge which calls for probation," he said.
Reached Thursday afternoon, Hansen declined immediate comment.
Brown's attorney, Heather Reiner, said Hansen and his bail agents kept going to Brown's home because they apparently thought she knew where her ex, Joshua Green, was hiding and were pressuring her to tell them.
"This was all a pretext for harassing her," Reiner said."That's why they stole her dog."
Hansen and his crew kept Boss, a cane corso, for about a week, according to Brown, who got her dog back after York County detectives went to Hansen's former bail bond business and found him there.
Canine collateral? Reiner said Hansen told her he was keeping her client's dog as collateral.
"I said, 'You can't do that,'" Reiner recalled. "He said, "We're keeping it until she tells us where Josh is.'"
Hansen has said he took the dog for "hygienic and health purposes," according to court documents, but Reiner said there are veterinary records from that time period that show Boss was up to date on his shots and in good health.
Brown said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being arrested by Hansen and his crew.
"I'm taking medication for depression," she said. "I can't sleep at night. I go to HACC, and in school I can't concentrate or focus."
Brown said that, for the record, she had no idea where Green was hiding, that she had an active protection from abuse order against him at the time, and that she called police when he tried to come to her home.
She was one of the co-signers on Green's $1,000 bail piece, and Green had missed a court date, according to police.
The allegations: Hansen went to Brown's home about 7 p.m. Dec. 8, 2015, when she wasn't there, along with his former Central Booking Bail Bonds employees Skylar Rhoades and Jesse King.
The trio went into her home and smashed things inside, then called Lancaster City Police and told them there were stolen goods in the apartment, court documents allege. Police found nothing stolen but noted it appeared the apartment had been rifled through, documents state.
The men then took Boss and left, police said.
A few hours later, they returned, accompanied by another employee, Michael Hansen Jr., who is Hansen Sr.'s son and who also worked at Central Booking Bail Bonds. Hansen Sr. was holding a shotgun, which he pointed at some onlookers, police allege.
Brown arrested: The men arrested Brown, but they had no authority to do so, according to charging documents.
They took her to the office of former District Judge Walter Groom, where she had an outstanding fine on a summary case, akin in seriousness to a traffic ticket, and that's when Reiner was summoned to represent Brown.
Groom's office manager later told authorities Hansen had contacted her office and said they were arresting Brown on a fugitive-from-justice warrant, so he'd also bring her in for her unpaid fine, documents state.
York County detectives went to Central Booking Bail Bonds to look for the dog and tried to take a photo of him, but employees there locked the dog in a closet and claimed it came from a crack house, documents state. That's when the detectives called in the York County SPCA, which checked the dog's microchip and determined he was, in fact, Brown's dog, according to police.
Reiner said that not only was Brown's arrest illegal, but it also was illegal for Hansen and his crew to take her across county lines without first taking her before a judge in Lancaster.
The aftermath: Brown said her grandson, who was 5 at the time Hansen arrested her, had his head banged against a wall during the incident.
At first, prosecutors told her Hansen would serve three months in prison, she said.
"Then they told me in December that Hansen Jr. was going to testify against his (father), and that the case was looking great," she said.
Brown said the next time she heard from prosecutors or police was earlier this week, when she was informed of the plea agreement.
"They're allowing him to get away with it," she told The York Dispatch.
Wants justice: "I want justice for Lisa because I know this is going to affect her for the rest of her life — her and her family," Reiner said. "And she didn't deserve any of this."
Brown is suing Hansen and his former bonding company in Lancaster County civil court, alleging Hansen and his crew kidnapped her. Reiner does not represent Brown in that case.
The lawsuit said the bail crew's actions were terrifying for Brown, as was their "display of firepower."
The suit also states she was taunted and threatened during the ride to York County, and that the handcuffs placed on her were so tight they caused nerve damage to her wrist.
Hansen also remains charged in York County with theft-related offenses for allegedly pocketing about $2,700 he should have shared with his former surety company, according to charging documents.
Hansen's co-defendants: King, 30, of Thomasville, pleaded guilty in Lancaster County Court on Dec. 27 to simple assault, false imprisonment, defiant trespass, criminal mischief and conspiracy for the Brown incident and was sentenced to six to 12 months in prison, court records state.
However, he'll be locked up much longer than that. In June, he was sentenced in York County Court to eight to 16 years in state prison for aggravated assault and related offenses in an unrelated case, court records state.
Rhoades, 32, of York, is a fugitive from justice on his Lancaster County charges for the Brown incident, which include defiant trespass, false imprisonment and simple assault.
Hansen's son, 34-year-old Michael Hansen Jr., also is charged in the case. He is free on bail, charged with false imprisonment and simple assault, according to court records, which state his next court appearance is a status conference in May.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.