Luster Hunter Can't Cash In

Bounty hunter Duane Chapman holds the steel bars of the Policia Judicial Estatal office jail in Puerto Vallarta, as Tim Chapman, back left, and TV free-lance producer Jeff Sells walk inside Thursday, June 19, 2003, Puerto Vallarta City, Mexico. The bounty hunters, who pursued cosmetics heir Andrew Luster to Mexico could face charges ranging from entering Mexico illegally to kidnapping. (AP Photo/Guillermo Arias) AP

The bounty hunter who captured convicted rapist Andrew Luster in Mexico won't receive any of the $1 million bail the fugitive Max Factor heir forfeited when he vanished during his trial, a judge ruled.

Bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman was not entitled to any share of the money because he was acting on his own and not as a legally authorized bail recovery agent when he snatched Luster off a street in Puerto Vallarta on June 18, Superior Court Judge Edward Brodie ruled Tuesday.

"He went to Mexico and failed to comply with the law. I cannot condone vigilante justice," Brodie said of Chapman.

The law requires that bounty hunters have a formal agreement with the bail bond agent or law enforcement, have a clean criminal record and follow local laws when they search for felons. Bounty hunting is considered a crime in Mexico.

Chapman walked out of court as Brodie was speaking, but said afterward he respected the judge's decision.

"There will be no appeal. There will be no hard feelings," he said. "We did talk to the district attorney before we entered the case and we thought we had his approval."

Prosecutors said Luster, great-grandson of Hollywood makeup legend Max Factor, took three women to his home in 1996, 1997 and 2000 and raped them after drugging them with gamma hydroxybutyrate, also known as GHB — or the date-rape drug — and liquid Ecstasy.

Luster fled Jan. 3, during a recess in his trial. Later in the month, he was found guilty in absentia and sentenced to 124 years in prison.

After his capture in June, Luster was returned to the United States to begin serving his sentence.

The judge awarded more than $150,000 to Ventura County government agencies for the costs they incurred trying to find Luster. Brodie also ruled Tuesday that Luster, and not his mother, put up the bail, a decision that clears the way for Luster's victims to lay claim to a portion.

Brodie told attorneys for Luster's victims that the law caps victim restitution in criminal cases to a total of $10,000. He ordered the victims to meet with Probation Agency officials for restitution options.

He also stayed his rulings for 60 days to allow all parties to appeal.

Chapman, who boasts of being "the greatest bounty hunter in the world," had said he wanted $350,000 for capturing Luster.

Chapman, his son and brother were charged by Mexican authorities with illegally capturing Luster. The three, who were arrested with the fugitive after passers-by reported a scuffle, returned to the United States after posting bail of their own.

Chapman's attorney, Robert Sanger, said the bounty hunter faces only misdemeanor charges.

According to a biography on his personal Web site, Chapman is "a charismatic ex-con and born-again Christian" who has captured more than 6,000 people over two decades. He once served time for murder.
  • Dan Collins

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