Former York bondsman pleads guilty, banned from all bail work
A former York-based bail bondsman has avoided prison for assaulting a Lancaster County woman and stealing her dog, but he can no longer work in the bail-bonding business, according to the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.
Michael Hansen Sr., 50, of Emerald Avenue in West Manchester Township, pleaded guilty Wednesday to misdemeanor counts of defiant trespass, conspiracy to trespass, two counts of simple assault, theft and criminal mischief.
One count of simple assault was for assaulting victim Lisa Brown; the other was for "leveling a shotgun at neighbors during the incident," according to a news release from the DA's office.
It was an open plea, according to Lancaster County DA's Office spokesman Brett Hambright.
Hansen had originally been charged with felony counts of criminal trespass and conspiracy to trespass and also had been charged with false imprisonment, but the prosecution withdrew those charges, Hambright confirmed.
Lancaster County Common Pleas Judge Howard Knisely sentenced Hansen to four years of probation and ordered he have no contact with Brown or her family, the news release states. He also was ordered to pay $2,920 in restitution for damages to Brown's apartment and for her medical bills.
No more bail work: Knisely also said Hansen can't "be associated with any bondsman or bail work" and said he was "extremely disgusted" by the facts of the case and found Hansen's conduct inappropriate and criminal, according to the news release.
Hansen's defense attorney, Royce Morris, did not return a phone message seeking comment.
Lancaster City Police charged Hansen after he arrested Brown, smashed up her home and stole her dog in an effort to force her to tell them where her bail-skipping ex-boyfriend was, documents state.
Brown confirmed she was in agreement with the resolution, was relieved by it, and that she said as much in court on Wednesday.
Trial avoided: Still, Brown — a 45-year-old grandmother of six — said she would have preferred a different outcome.
"I wanted to take it to trial," she said, and she would have liked to see Hansen sentenced to prison time. "I think he got a big break," Brown said.
Brown is suing Hansen and his former bonding company in civil court.
Hambright said Hansen's guilty plea "essentially will cost him his professional career."
Prosecutors were prepared to take the case to trial until Brown indicated that the plea was "her desired resolution," he said.
"As Judge Knisely accurately surmised, the actions of Mr. Hansen were criminal and inappropriate — certainly far from professional, in our opinion," he wrote in an email. "This conviction assures he will not be working as a bondsman or in association with any bondsmen or bounty hunters."
The background: 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, according to court documents.
The visits and the theft of her dog were intended to harass Brown, according to attorney Heather Reiner, who represented Brown on a related matter but not in the civil suit.
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.
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.'"
'Hygienic' purposes? 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. He brought along 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.
They returned a few hours later, accompanied by 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 said.
Brown arrested: The men arrested Brown, but they had no authority to do so, according to court 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.
Hansen 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, remains a fugitive from justice on his Lancaster County charges for the Brown incident, which include defiant trespass, false imprisonment and simple assault.
Hansen Jr., 34, also is charged in the case. He is free on bail, charged with false imprisonment and simple assault, according to court records. His next court appearance is scheduled in May.
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.