Police: Bail bondsman illegally arrested woman, stole dog

Sean Philip Cotter

Police say a York City bail bondsman illegally arrested a Lancaster woman, smashed up her home and stole her dog in an effort to force her to tell them where her bail-skipping ex-boyfriend was.

Michael L Hansen Sr., 49, of 1780 Emerald Ave., West Manchester Township, runs Central Booking Bail Bonds at 100 N. George St. in the city. He is charged with first-degree felony charges of burglary and conspiracy to commit burglary, as well as misdemeanor charges of false imprisonment, theft by extortion, criminal mischief and simple assault, according to documents filed by Lancaster City Police in Lancaster County courts on Thursday.

Central Booking Bail Bonds is shown on North George Street in York, Pa. on Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016. (Dawn J. Sagert - The York Dispatch)

Incident: Police say Hansen admitted to them that the incident, which spanned several days, started Dec. 7, 2015, when he met with Lisa Brown, of the 400 block of Manor Street in Lancaster, to talk about her ex-boyfriend Joshua Green.

Green was arraigned in York County in August on charges including theft, and posted $1,000 bail via Hansen’s company. Then Green, who’s representing himself in the case, according to online court documents, missed a required court date, authorities allege, so Hansen’s company was in position to lose that money unless they found Green.

Brown had been one of the co-signors on what was now her ex-boyfriend’s bail, and she told Hansen she didn’t know where he was, documents state.

Things began to take a turn, police allege, when Hansen showed up at her house at about 7 p.m. the next day — when she wasn’t there — with Central Booking Bail Bonds employees Skylar Rhoades and Jesse King.

Police say the three men went inside the apartment and began to smash up the apartment and its contents, kicking holes in the drywall, breaking a vase and CDs and damaging a speaker and some art on the wall — about $799 in damage, all told.

The bondsmen then called Lancaster City Police, telling them there were stolen goods in the apartment, documents state. Police showed up and searched the apartment, finding nothing, but noting the apartment looked like it was in disarray, as though someone had rifled through it, according to documents.

Stolen Dog: The bondsmen also stole Brown's dog, police allege. Rhoades took the purebred Cane Corso — also known as an Italian mastiff — from the cage Brown had it in, according to documents. Police say they walked the dog out of the apartment, put it in their car and drove it back to the bail bonds agency, where they kept it.

York County authorities say Hansen later admitted to them he took the dog, saying it was for “hygienic and health purposes.” He denied that they did any damage to her apartment.

Brown called police around noon next day and told them the bondsmen had stolen the mastiff, which she said had an identification chip in its left ear, documents state.

Into Custody: A few hours after that, the three men along with Hansen's son Michael Hansen Jr., who also works at the bail bond agency, showed up at her house again, police say, this time with a 12-gauge shotgun and the intent to arrest her themselves. They pushed her to the ground, put a knee in her back, pulled her arms behind her and twisted her neck, documents state. One of the employees shot video of all this happening, police say.

As the bail bondsmen took her out of the apartment and brought her over to their vehicle Hansen pointed his shotgun at a couple of onlookers, police say.

There are instances in which bail bonds agents are allowed to take people into custody, according to state law. A bondsman can get permission from a judge “authorizing the surety or bail agency to apprehend and detain the defendant, and to bring the defendant before the bail authority without unnecessary delay,” Pennsylvania code states.

Police say this was not the case here.

“He did not have the authority to arrest the victim,” and he knew he didn’t have the authority to do so, Lancaster City Police wrote in the section of the criminal complaint describing the charge of false imprisonment.

The bondsmen took Brown to York-area Magisterial District Judge Walter Groom’s office, where she was held until her fine was paid, documents state. Groom’s office manager, Robin Bupp, later told authorities a man saying he was a bail bondsman had called her office that day and told her he was arresting Brown on a fugitive from justice warrant, so he’d also pick her up on for the unpaid fine.

Brown and attorney Heather Reiner told police that as they were leaving the judge’s office, Hansen told them they wouldn’t get the dog back unless Brown told him where Green was, documents state. Hansen denied doing so.

After Reiner told the York County District Attorney’s Office that, York County detectives on Dec. 14 went to Central Booking Bail Bonds, where they found Rhoades, fellow employee Michael Cramer and a dog, police say. The detectives know Brown’s dog’s name is Boss, so they called out that name, and the dog responded to it, according to documents.

The detectives tried to take pictures, but the employees took the dog and locked him in a closet, police say. Documents state the detectives asked where they got the dog from, and Cramer told them it came from a “crack house” in Lancaster.

The detectives called the SPCA, who came and got the dog, and found it had an identification chip in its ear that identified it as belonging to Lisa Brown, police say.

Lawsuit: Brown is suing Hansen in Lancaster County civil court, according to online court documents. The lawsuit, filed Jan. 22, alleges much the same as the police do, with some additional claims. Among them is the allegation that on Dec. 7, the bondsmen went to Brown’s son’s apartment in the same building; Brown says they threatened her son and damaged a wall in his apartment.

The lawsuit further alleges that the next day, they again threatened him and his 3-year-old daughter, saying they were going to kidnap her.

Neither Marc Tarlow, who’s  Brown’s attorney, nor Royce Morris, who is Hansen’s, could be reached by phone on Saturday.

Hansen was arraigned Thursday evening by York City Magisterial District Judge Joel Toluba in the central booking unit that lends Hansen’s company its name, inside the York County Judicial Center right across the intersection from it. Toluba set his bail at $250,000, which Hansen posted via Central Booking Bail Bonds.

— Reach Sean Cotter atscotter@yorkdispatch.com.