A bounty hunter who was featured on the Discovery Channel reality show Bounty Wars was arrested Wednesday for allegedly embezzling more than $18,000 in a bail-bond transaction, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) announced.
Arturo Alfred Torres–known on the show as just Art Torres–is expected to be arraigned this week in Santa Ana on a felony count of grand theft by embezzlement.
A woman whose son was arrested and booked into Los Angeles County jail in lieu of $20,000 bail on Feb. 8, 2013, contacted a bail bonds company and later met Torres, according to the OCDA.
Torres and a bail agent are accused of going to the jail, bailing out the woman's son, driving him to his mother's home in Orange County, where it is alleged Torres asked the mother to make out a check personally to him $20,000, the OCDA says.
Torres allegedly deposited the check into his personal bank account, but no charges were filed against the woman's son and on March 21, 2013, his bail was exonerated, the OCDA says. Torres is accused of refusing to return the money to the woman despite her numerous attempts to have it returned, according to prosecutors.
Bail bond companies generally post the bail for an arrestee but only charge a premium or percentage of the full amount. As long as the arrestee makes all future court appearances and does not violate any bail conditions, the bond company receives the full amount of the bond back plus the premium paid by the customer as as profit. "In this case, Torres might have been eligible to keep a percentage of the bail amount and is accused of embezzling $18,000," the OCDA explains.
The woman whose son was arrested reported the theft on Feb. 13, 2014, to the California Department of Insurance, which investigated the case before Torres was arrested Wednesday at his home in Winnetka, the OCDA says.
"Torres' alleged theft of more than $18,000 from an innocent victim is reprehensible," says state Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones in a statement. "Licensed bail agents and bounty hunters have an obligation to follow the letter of the law and I will bring to justice those that do not."
A conviction could send 52-year-old Torres to Orange County Jail for up to three years, according to prosecutors.