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Iowa bondsmen on other side of the law in Nebraska

Posted at 7:02 PM, Aug 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-12 20:02:24-04
An odd sight after midnight Friday had concerned bystanders calling 911.
 
The initial report, felony kidnapping in Omaha, was not what it seemed.
 
Now a longtime bail bonds company in Council Bluffs is the subject of a Douglas County investigation. 
 
The issued spurred after an Iowa bondsman baited a suspect off an Omaha Street.
 
What people were seeing, though, was a bondsman with Gallagher bail bonds from Iowa taking a suspect with several warrants into custody from Nebraska.
 
It’s the first time in 30 years Gallagher Bail Bonds say they've gotten in trouble with the law.
 
The issue?
 
Nebraska doesn't recognize bail bondsmen, so when a Gallagher employee tried to catch a suspect in Omaha it was an unlawful arrest.
 
"The problem is if they're here restraining somebody without the legal authority to do so, that's technically a crime in Nebraska,” said Douglas County Attorney Don Klein. “That's a false imprisonment, in the second degree, a class 1 misdemeanor.”
 
Tom Gallagher, owner, says it puts them in a tough spot when their clients flee across the bridge.
 
"They think that the river's a magic line,” Gallagher said. “It's not a magic line to me. They miss court, they skip bond. They're bond skippers and we'll go find them.”
 
Longtime Iowa Bondsman Timothy Janzen says getting Omaha police to help them catch a suspect isn't always easy.
 
"It is a challenge because of the fact that if Nebraska is going to be harboring the runners that go over to the state of Nebraska to hide out from the bail bondsmen,” Janzen said. “There's money involved.”
 
While Gallagher’s company is under a criminal investigation, no arrests have been made and Klein says charges will likely not be filed.
 
"We did our job, (the bondsman) did it well,” Gallagher said. “Omaha police did their job, did it well. There's just a little disagreement.”
Klein says while the county attorney’s office could charge Gallagher's bondsman with false imprisonment, he wants to use this as a message to bounty hunters: their clients need to be arrested by police if they flee to Nebraska.