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Crime & Courts

Tennessee bounty hunters charged for taking woman from DeKalb to Mississippi

Bail agents face felony charges in connection with July incident at DeKalb gas station

SYCAMORE – What a twist: Two accused bounty hunters from Tennessee face criminal charges in connection with taking a woman from a DeKalb gas station in July and bringing her to Mississippi for a court hearing.

Illinois has no commercial bail bond system, and bounty hunting – apprehending fugitives in order to secure the return of cash bail posted on their behalf – is illegal in the state.

Adam D. Burt, 38, of the 8000 block of Epperson Mill Road in Millington, and Brynn Johnson, 35, of the 2400 block of Highway 47 North in White Bluff, Tennessee, went before DeKalb County Chief Judge Robbin Stuckert on Tuesday for charges of aggravated unlawful restraint, unlawful restraint and aggravated battery. If convicted of aggravated unlawful restraint, they could face two to five years in prison.

DeKalb police say in court records that on July 13, Burt and Johnson slapped handcuffs on a woman at Casey’s Gas Station, 1001 N. Annie Glidden Road, and while armed with handguns. They took her to DeSoto County, Mississippi – just south of Memphis, Tennessee – where she was wanted for failure to appear in court.

At that time, the police posted the victim’s picture on social media, as well as descriptions of Willington and Johnson and their SUV. Police later updated the post, stating that the victim was safe, and that she’d been taken to jail by bail bond agents.

According to DeKalb County First Assistant State’s Attorney Stephanie Klein, state statute prohibits bounty hunting in Illinois. She said the victim has since returned to Illinois.

The defendants’ lawyers asked Stuckert to reduce the $25,000 bond on the warrants issued Aug. 28 for their arrest, stating that the moment they learned they were wanted, they surrendered and returned to DeKalb County.

Stuckert honored the request Tuesday morning, releasing them on their signatures and allowing them to travel back to Tennessee – after they’d been processed in the jail.

According to the motion filed by Burt’s lawyer, Lawrence X. O’Reilly, he’s been a state-licensed bounty hunter three years, and also trains therapy dogs who work with people with post-traumatic stress disorder and disabilities.

Johnson’s lawyer, Michael E. Baker of Evanston, said she’s worked as a bounty hunter
10 years, and that she’s had recent heart problems, requiring a pacemaker and medication.

Both Burt and Johnson are due back in DeKalb County court at 9 a.m. Oct. 26.

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