Bail Bondsmen Accused of Thuggish Behavior

LAS VEGAS (CN) – Bail bondsmen dressed in “police SWAT gear” terrorized patrons of a swinger’s club by holding them at gunpoint while they beat a man they thought had skipped bail, then threatened a newspaper editor who wrote about it, four people and the business claim in Clark County Court.

     Plaintiffs say Budget Bail Bonds employees Robert Suckoll Jr., Katie Jones, Diego Rodriguez, Ian Drazian and an unidentified woman entered The Green Door swinger’s club wearing what appeared to be “police SWAT gear” in search of a man named Terry Wilson. Rodriguez was “openly displaying a shotgun,” the lawsuit states.
     With “several members of the public within the open area” of the club, the team found Wilson, held him down and beat him for at least 5 minutes while Rodriguez “covered” the patrons with a shotgun, according to the complaint.
     Plaintiff employee Arthur Dias says he complained, and Rodriguez fired a shotgun “beanbag round” into his chest, knocking him down. Dias’ stepson, Henry Malama, tried to help but was physically restrained, according to the complaint.
     The bounty hunters then dragged Wilson out to a waiting SUV and beat him some more before driving off, the complaint states. When the bail bondsmen tried to turn Wilson over to police, they refused to accept him because he was beaten so badly, according to the complaint. Wilson spent nearly a week in the hospital.
     In a separate incident, four armed bounty hunters – Jones, Rodriguez, Drazian and Suckoll Sr. – allegedly entered a private residence in the middle of the night in search of a man they claimed skipped bail.
     The bounty hunters told plaintiff Steve Brereton they were looking for his son, Steve Brereton Jr., and said they were going to search his house, according to the complaint. Brereton says he told them they could not, and went back upstairs to retrieve his cell phone.
     That’s when a female bounty hunter said, “He is going to get a gun!” according to the complaint. Two bounty hunters grabbed him, threw him against the wall and put a pistol to his chest and neck, the lawsuit states.
     He says the bounty hunters took down names and phone numbers they got from his cell phone. Then a bounty hunter used Brereton’s cell phone to call his son, telling him, “Your father has been a bad man. He has a shotgun and is going to jail,” the lawsuit states. She also kept asking him, “Where are you?”
     Brereton say he used a second cell phone to call police. While waiting for police to arrive, Brereton says he placed his daughter on a sofa. That’s when one of the bounty hunters cried, “He’s got a gun!” Jones then ran up to Brereton and sprayed him with pepper spray, according to the complaint.
     Brereton again called 911. Brereton says two officers arrived and arrested him, but refused to take an incident report.
     Brereton says he filed a voluntary statement with police. Later that day, he says he received a threatening phone call from Robert Suckoll Sr., the bond company’s owner, who falsely accused him of threatening “to blow all of us in the office up. Stop what you are doing or I will have Steve arrested,” the lawsuit states.
     Since then, Steve and Belinda Brereton say they’ve been followed several times by a white van driven by bounty hunters.
     Budget Bail Bonds personnel have threatened the Dias and Brereton families, and made “libelous statements” about their attorney, Conrad Claus, in an attempt to “destroy his business and thus deprive Dias of representation,” according to the complaint.
     Dias’ relatives, who are incarcerated, have been threatened by other inmates allegedly acting on Budget Bail Bonds’ behalf, to dissuade him from continuing the legal matter, according to the complaint.
     “The state of Nevada … has been aware of Katie Jones’ activity for a very long time and has allowed her to continue to work in various capacities within various bonding agencies because Jones is ‘good for business,'” the lawsuit states.
     “Jones has a well-established reputation within the Las Vegas community for being a ‘renegade.’ She is a convicted felon with a reputation for using violence both personally and through the use of intermediaries” and has “connections with the criminal underworld as well as connections with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department personnel, who use her as a confidential informant,” according to the complaint.
     In October 2006, the owner and editor of the Las Vegas Tribune received threats of physical harm after the paper ran an unfavorable story about Budget Bail Bonds, the complaint states. The editor, Rolando Laranz, also received threats from Jones and her husband, Greg Jones, according to the complaint.
     The Dias and Brereton families seek damages and attorneys fees. They are represented by C. Conrad Claus.

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