Ed Hawkins became the new owner of Eagle County Bail Bonds in January but he has been involved with the business since the early 1990s, when he was first introduced to the bounty hunting business.
Eagle County Bail Bonds has been around for 30 years and Hawkins is the third owner.
“I used to date the daughter of the guy who got me into bounty hunting,” he said. “That guy worked for the original owner. He eventually bought the business while I continued working for him and now I own it with my partner.”
Hawkins also owns bail bond businesses in Garfield and Pitkin counties. His 22-year-old stepson works for him along with two other part-time helpers.
By default, to be a bail bondsman is to be a bounty hunter.
Let’s say you go to jail and bail is set at a typical amount of $5,000. If you had $5,000 to deposit with the court, you would be released from jail and the deposit would be returned to you after you showed up for your court date. If you don’t have the $5,000, you either stay in jail until your hearing or you contact someone like Hawkins, who fronts you the $5K for a percentage of that amount, which would be $750 in this case.
“When you show up for court, I would get the money back from the court but I would keep your $750,” Hawkins said. “If you didn’t show up to court, I have 120 days to bring you in before I lose $4,250.”
Hawkins estimates one out of eight people jump bail. Of those, he catches more than 95 percent of them.
He travels all over to find people who don’t show up to court.
“I’ve been to 37 states,” he said. “I just got back from Florida. I travel out of state about once a month.”
He has a network of resources and crafty ploys to find people who don’t want to be found. He recently tracked a man to a small island and missed him by a couple days.
“He’s still on the run but I’ll find him,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins used to work across the street in Denver from Duane “Dog” Chapman, who became famous for his reality TV show, “Dog the Bounty Hunter.”
“We’re acquaintances but we go about the business very differently,” Hawkins said.
In his career, Hawkins has bonded a few celebrities out of jail, including Kobe Bryant, Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller.
“Kobe was scared [from the arrest and jail experience],” Hawkins said.
There is no such thing as a typical week in the bail business, Hawkins said.
“Hunting people down is exciting but not like it used to be,” he said. “I would rather not but I’m in this business for life.”
He said his wife is OK with her son helping him on the bounty hunts.
“What she doesn’t like is when we’re sitting down at a nice restaurant and I get a phone call and have to leave,” Hawkins said.
Of all the areas he works, Hawkins said Eagle County has one of the best justice systems.
“The Eagle County courts are a pretty well-oiled machine,” he said. “Judge Sullivan has some good programs that I have seen make a difference for some people I know.”
Eagle County Bail Bonds is located across from the Eagle County Jail at 850 Chambers Ave. The number is 970-328-1609.