Ex-bail bondsman gets probation for thefts

Liz Evans Scolforo, 505-5429/@LizScolforoYD

A former bail bondsman already on probation for crimes in Lancaster County is now also on probation in York County for pocketing about $2,700 that prosecutors say he should have shared with his former surety company.

Michael Hansen Sr. pleaded no contest Monday in York County Court to the charges of theft by deception and theft by unlawful taking in exchange for a sentence of five years' probation. The probationary sentence won't begin until after his five-year Lancaster County probation/parole sentence runs its course, according to court records.

A Lancaster County judge forbade Hansen from being involved in the bail-bonding business in any way while he is on probation.

Michael Hansen Sr.

Defendants who plead no contest, or nolo contendere, are not admitting guilt. Rather, they are saying they will not contest the charges against them. A no-contest plea has the same effect as a guilty plea.

York County deputy prosecutor Deirdre Sullivan said Hansen pleaded no contest because he felt as if the case "was more of a civil dispute, from his point of view," than a criminal case. Still, she said, he wanted the benefit of the negotiated agreement.

Hansen, 50, of Emerald Avenue in West Manchester Township, was ordered to pay $2,750 in restitution, according to Kyle King, spokesman for the district attorney's office.

Both of the theft charges to which Hansen pleaded are misdemeanors; his felony theft and receiving stolen property counts were dismissed, court records state.

Jay Whittle, Hansen's defense attorney in the York County case, declined comment Tuesday.

The case: York County detectives began investigating in March 2016 and spoke with three people from We Spring Bail Bonds, the surety company that had backed Hansen's former Central Booking Bail Bonds, according to court documents.

Before that, a secretary at Central Booking Bail Bonds became suspicious after hearing Hansen threaten to jail people if he didn't receive payment from them, and she made copies of some of the company's bail files, according to charging documents. Those documents don't state what she did with the files she copied, but it appears she turned them over to county detectives.

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The three representatives from We Spring Bail Bonds told detectives their surety company was supposed to receive 60 percent of each bond posted, while Hansen was supposed to receive 40 percent, documents state.

"(One of them) explained that if Hansen was collecting money over and above the agreed bond percentage, he was not reporting that to the surety company," charging documents state, adding, "Therefore he is keeping money for his personal gain."

Son provided files: On Sept. 29, 2015, Hansen's son, Michael Hansen Jr., provided detectives with a box of records from his father's business, according to charging documents. The younger Hansen previously worked for his father at Central Booking Bail Bonds.

Those records revealed the elder Hansen overcharged nine people he bailed out, according to documents.

For instance, a man bailed out Jan. 23, 2015, paid Hansen Sr. $550, but Hansen reported to We Spring that the man paid $300, meaning Hansen Sr. pocketed $250, documents state.

In another case, Hansen Sr. bailed out a man in February 2015 who paid him $3,750, according to detectives. But Hansen reported to We Spring that the man had paid him $3,000, meaning Hansen pocketed $750, documents state. He later tried to charge the man $2,550 in interest, documents state.

"This shows a continued course of conduct by Michael L. Hansen (Sr.) for a total theft of cash in the aggregated amount of $2,750," documents state.

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Recently locked up: Hansen recently was released from prison after a monthlong stay for violating his Lancaster County probation conditions by continuing to work in the bail-bonding business after being ordered not to by his sentencing judge.

He was arrested on suspicion of the violation and was locked up on Feb. 24.

On March 31, Lancaster County Common Pleas Judge Howard Knisely said in court the only reason he was showing Hansen leniency was because Hansen's defense attorney gave him bad advice by saying he could manage the office of a York bail-bonding business, according to Brett Hambright, spokesman for the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office.

On Feb. 8, the day Hansen pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years of probation, Knisely made it clear that Hansen can't "be associated with any bondsman or bail work" and said he was "extremely disgusted" by the facts of the case, according to the DA's office at the time.

Banned from bail work: Royce Morris, Hansen's defense attorney in the Lancaster case, told the judge he gave Hansen "erroneous information" about whether he was banned from all bail-bonding work.

“How can (my order) be misconstrued that (you) can manage the office?” Knisely asked Hansen in court, according to the DA's office. “You shall in no way play a role in any bondsman business.”

Knisely said a future violation on Hansen's part would mean state prison for him, according to Hambright.​

In response to the violation, the judge added a year of parole to Hansen's sentence, meaning he will be on parole for a year before his previously imposed probationary sentence of four years begins to run. Knisely then ordered Hansen released from prison, Hambright said.

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Hansen apologized "for any misunderstandings," and told Knisely, "I have no intent in being anywhere near (the) bail bonds business going forward," according to the Lancaster County DA's office. Hansen stipulated to the violation, Hambright said.

The background: Lancaster City Police charged Hansen after he illegally arrested Lisa Brown, smashed up her home and stole her dog in an effort to force her to reveal where her bail-skipping ex-boyfriend was, court documents state.

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 the dog there.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.