WESTERLY — A Massachusetts man who works as a bounty hunter in both his home state and Connecticut is facing charges after the police said he broke into a Westerly home in late September and illegally detained a bail-jumper.
Douglas J. White, 47, of Lanesborough, Mass., turned himself in to Westerly police Wednesday on charges including unlawful breaking and entering of house or dwelling, kidnapping and vandalism. He was held overnight and arraigned in 4th Division District Court on Thursday before being released on a $10,000 bond, Rhode Island court records show.
White is due in Washington County Superior Court for a felony screening on Jan. 14, 2022.
Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said the charges stem from an incident that occurred on Sept. 28, when the police said White and two associates entered the home of White Rock Road resident Ashley Johnson, who was wanted for failure to appear in a case out of New London.
“The way they entered was inappropriate already, but there is no such thing as a bounty hunter in Rhode Island unless it is directly related to a federal warrant. That wasn’t the case here,” Lacey said. “Mr. White was known from previous incidents and was aware that he could not enter and detain someone in Rhode Island.”
According to multiple witnesses, White and two other associates approached Johnson’s home on White Rock Road during the late afternoon and approached a man in a nearby parking lot, asking where Johnson lived. The man answered, the police said, then watched as White and his associates walked up to the apartment and kicked the door several times before White allegedly broke a door window to gain entry.
The police said Johnson’s boyfriend told officers that the men then entered the home, handcuffed Johnson and announced themselves as bounty hunters, then took her and put her into the back of a Chevrolet Tahoe before driving away.
Johnson was turned over to Connecticut authorities, arraigned the next day on a first-degree failure to appear charge and was released, records show.
Lacey said that while White has not faced charges previously, this isn't the first time he had overstepped his authority by detaining someone in Rhode Island.
“Based on what we knew, we moved forward in obtaining a warrant and were in contact with his lawyer before he eventually agreed to turn himself in,” Lacey said.