KAY COUNTY, Okla. - A former bounty hunter is charged with 20 counts of kidnapping after he allegedly arrested fugitives without a revoked bail enforcement license.
Billy Duane Hocker was arrested last week for 20 counts of kidnapping and one count of acting as a bail enforcer without a license.
According to court documents, Hocker has been working as a bail enforcer, also known as a bounty hunter, since 2016. Between then and early 2019, he allegedly arrested at least 20 people and booked them into the Kay County Detention Center.
But another bail enforcer he was working with, Richard Crane, grew suspicious.
"I was noticing a little bit of a different attitude about him on things," Crane said, "and I started asking him for copies of his license, and his insurance and stuff, and he never would show it to me."
Crane made calls to CLEET, the agency that oversees bail enforcer licenses, and learned that Hocker's license had been revoked.
News 4 learned Hocker used to be employed as a bail bondsman, but documents obtained from the Oklahoma Insurance Commission show that license was revoked in 2014 after he allegedly failed to report 67 bonds totaling $337,815.55 the year before.
In 2016, Hocker was granted a bail enforcer license through CLEET but revoked it a few months later when CLEET officials learned his bail bondsman license had been revoked.
However, Hocker allegedly continued to hunt down fugitives.
He was working as a private contractor for 3B Bail Bonds in Ponca City until an investigator with CLEET began asking questions.
"I texted him, I said, 'What's going on with this man? People say you don't have a valid license,'" said 3B Bail Bonds owner Marciano Villarruel, "and he denied it and he says 'No, they're crazy.'"
Villarruel said there was no way of knowing if the license Hocker showed him was active because there's now way to verify online, but he stopped working with him after that.
"If anyone comes to you and presents a valid license, a tangible valid license to you, you take that as face value and so, okay, that's legitimate," Villarruel said. "If there's absolutely no way to research that then that's all you have."
News 4 tried to reach Hocker on the phone for comment but has not gotten a call back.
Now both Villarruel and Crane say there needs to be a database to immediately verify whether bond enforcer licenses are active.
"If a bail enforcer needs assistance to go help find a fugitive, and it's midnight, you can't call CLEET at midnight to find out if somebody's got a license or not," Crane said. "You get a hot tip, you've got to go after that person."
Hocker is out of jail on a $10,000 bail.
The district attorney for Kay County said unless a judge rules otherwise, this case won't affect the cases of the 20 people arrested by Hocker.