Bail bondsmen perform a useful dual service: by getting lower risk defendants released from jail, they help minimize the damage to their lives and lower the costs society would pay to keep them incarcerated. But the bail itself offers an incentive to those defendants to do their duty and show up for their court date so that justice can be served. The system has a flow: in and out and justice done.
But occasionally bail bondsmen encounter problems with troublesome defendants who decide that seeing justice done just…isn’t in their best interest. Then it gets more complicated. Generally speaking, this is where a bounty hunter, or a fugitive recovery agent, gets involved. If a bail bondsman’s job is to get defendants out of jail, a bounty hunter’s job is to return him to jail – at least until his court date. Hunting down accused criminals can be a dangerous pastime, so there is special training they can get to update their self-defense skills. This is not a glamorous movie job or something anyone can do well, and since bounty hunters offer a crucial service to the criminal justice system without costing the taxpayers anything, they earn any reward they get.
Then there are the more bizarre defendant-at-large cases like the one the Kent County District Court has recently encountered with Jeffery Allan Klein who has used medically creative ways of avoiding his day before the judge.
Apparently back in 2012 Klein called in a false bomb threat to the trailer park he was residing in because he was angry at some fines the management had assessed him. No bomb was present, but police spent valuable time looking for one, and they eventually traced the phone call back to him.
The fly in the ointment in getting Klein to face his charges and, potentially, punishment, is that Klein weighs 625 pounds and is in somewhat fragile health. At his first court date he became ill and hand to be taken to the hospital. At the second, in which he was charged with making a false bomb threat and was told he would be remanded to jail, Klein once again “fell ill” and had to be removed by ambulance.
As a habitual offender with four previous felony convictions, Klein is looking at a maximum of 15 years in prison if Kent County somehow manages to get him him to court. His lawyer states that he is confined to his bed with a host of physical problems and that getting him to court would require an ambulance and the assistance of paramedics. So far he has managed to avoid justice for two years, but now Judge Dennis Leiber has given lawyers only until Friday, August 8, to resolve all problems involved and get him to court.
The costs involved in Klein’s case are already high because he has used his physical health as an excuse to avoid court. At this point, Kent County very likely wishes he were the usual type of bail jumper and that a bounty hunter could be called in to take care of business.
By: Christine Spoor