Hello, I’m Not Coming Back!

International map at night

R.E. “Scott” MacLean III

Rod Milstead, a former NFL Super Bowl winner, bail bondsman and hunter in his own right, had a bail skip that went ghost. This was unexpected, as the bond was tied up properly, guaranteed by multiple pieces of real estate and the defendant’s job as a cleared scientist with a Department of Defense contracting company. If you think these descriptors are vague, you are correct!

This investigation took us from Maryland to southern California and Washington State. The defendant owned multiple rental properties in numerous states, and we contacted all of his tenants, only to learn that all of the rent checks were sent to a post office box in Renton, Washington. We arrived in Seattle and took a rental car to the post office, only to have the Post Master tell us the post office box was abandoned. We showed the banking records where checks were mailed to this post office box, and when they cleared the tenant’s bank accounts. The Post Master agreed to bring in Postal Inspectors who determined the subject’s brother was taking the checks out of the mail box and leaving all of the junk mail, to make it appear to have been abandoned!

I mentioned banking records because the subject signed an indemnity agreement that allows such access. We were watching his transactions looking for patterns, such as buying gas at an Exxon station every Tuesday, to no avail. Then magic happened! He transferred $365,000 from his 401K at his defense contracting company to the Bank of North Vietnam! Bingo!

We went to the detective in charge of the case to ask for an unauthorized flight to avoid prosecution (UFAP) warrant, and she refused. We went to the State’s Attorney, and he refused. We contacted an FBI agent that we have had positive history with, and he invited us to come to his office and brief them.

A few things you must know about dealing with federal law enforcement agencies; information flows one way, to them. Your information will not be responded to, corrected, verified, or otherwise collaborated with you. Human nature comes into play, and one must understand that nobody is willing to put their career in jeopardy over your investigation or information. Presentation is everything. Your investigation must be presented in such a manner that anybody could pick up your case and follow it logically to the next step without having to backtrack. All questions must be answered before they are asked. You must be honest about what you know, what you don’t know, and document where your information came from.

Our presentation went as expected until the first glitch. They could not use the banking records to support the investigation because we did not have a warrant to obtain the information. But we have our indemnity agreement, and after it passed muster with their legal department, we received a green light. Next, how do we know where he is? We can ping his phone, he answers it. How do we know that? We called him on speaker phone, in front of a team of FBI agents at the briefing, he answered “Hi, I’m not coming back!” Then he hung up, and we saw all smiles! The trigger to get them to act was the banking transaction from a cleared federal contractor to a communist country, absent any flags to hinder or stop the transaction.

At 9:30 on a Friday night, we got the call informing us that the defendant was in custody and would be landing at Los Angeles airport in 45 minutes. I called a friend at the warrant squad of the wanting county and told her that I would be in her office at 8 am Monday morning to pick up a letter of authorization for Mr. Milstead and me to transport the defendant back to the wanting authority. This was refused because they had federal grant money for child support enforcement, and the defendant also had child support warrants.

The defendant was located by two FBI agents that had flown down from Thailand to Ho Chi Min City, formerly Saigon, Vietnam. The process is a triple sealed warrant, which means the warrant from the original wanting authority, the federal warrant issued by a federal agency and the third warrant issued by the country the subject is located in, in order to respect their sovereignty. The subject was apprehended without incident and held for international extradition proceedings. Then the FBI received a phone call that Vietnam had decided not to follow through with formal extradition, but instead, to expel the defendant as persona non grata, and that he could be found at the airport. The FBI agents were fluid in their response, apprehending and transporting the defendant to the United States.

Here is where facts stop, and conjecture starts. We assume the defendant approached his captors and told them he had a significant amount of money, that he would share with them if they let him go. Logic says they would have to verify that any monies existed, and to do so would require written permission and or bank account numbers. Following the same logic, they must have determined that if they took all his money, and expelled him from the country, he could not file any complaint against them.

The defendant was found guilty and sentenced to 11 years in jail. There is much more to this story, to include how the local Sheriff’s Office took credit for an “Exhaustive international investigation…” that they not only did not do, but hindered the progress of, to the court system trying to charge the bondsman fees for transport of the defendant, when they were reimbursed by federal funds. They lost that case!

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