Experienced Mississippi Bail Bondsmen Dispute “Dog’s” Tracking Tactics

The recent search for convicted felon, Ricky Wheeldon, has sparked a public dispute between two highly seasoned bail bondsmen, Samuel Butler and Scott Bernstein, concerning the controversial entrapment tactics employed by Dog The Bounty Hunter and other bond agents.

For the Wilson's, a Jackson couple who admitted knowing the felon, their life became a hell of harassment and the bondsmen seeking information from them were “rude, obscene and aggressive.”  They were so affronted by their behavior that they went so far as to post a “no trespassing” sign on their lawn and contacted the county prosecutor. The line between felon and the non-accused was apparently repeatedly crossed.


The Citizen Patriot became the venue for the public dispute as both Butler and Bernstein contacted them after reading an article on MLive.com about the Wilson family and their frustration in dealing with bounty hunters. Leo Urban and Dog Chapman denied the charges on the grounds that bond agents must sometimes be aggressive. Dog himself accused the Wilson's of hurling insults and obscenities during their volatile exchange and Michael Wilson admitted that it was indeed true.

Justin Butler, vice president of the Michigan Professional Bail Agent's Association and owner of You Walk Bail Bond Agency, one of the largest in the Detroit area had this to say:

“I think this is the system working how it should be. No one got hurt. Nothing got damaged. Yeah, some people got riled up, but that might help get the fugitive in.”

Although not involved in the search for this particular fugitive, Butler did offer his help and advice gleaned from 15 years experience of working within the industry to Leo Urban, owner of Leo’s Bail Bonds who was one of the agents involved in the fugitive’s capture. Butler believes that the general public does not understand the work of a bounty hunter and stands behind both Dog and Urban’s agents. He claims upsetting people has a purpose and that is to put pressure on the fugitive.

Scott Bernstein, founder of the Bounty Hunter Training Academy and a semi-retired New York-based bail agent with forty years on the job, disagreed with Butler and Chapman. He believes their tactics reflect negatively on the industry and that catching a fugitive is and always has been a very well-rehearsed science that involves examining phone records, tracking down family members and tracking the felon’s trail. 

In his own words:

“We don't go around yelling obscenities. That's the last thing we do. We don't harass people. By degrading people at their residence, it's not getting you anywhere. It shows you are desperate.”

Should harassment be only a last resort? Bernstein thinks so; Butler has other thoughts on the matter.

So no solution, but two sides of a very controversial picture.

Who will win?

No one knows except maybe the Shadow, and he isn’t telling!

Posted by M Dee Dubroff, on October 26, 2012 at 9:00 AM