Bounty hunters contest kidnapping charges

Authorities said Angel Guadalupe, 45, of Bristol, and William Sobota, 40, of Burlington, appeared in District Court in Providence, where they faced kidnapping and conspiracy charges. (Police photos)

Two Connecticut bounty hunters charged with kidnapping and conspiracy were in a Rhode Island courtroom Tuesday.

Angel Guadalupe, 45, and William Sobota, 40, pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The two are accused of kidnapping a Providence man at Providence District Court who was wanted on a warrant in Connecticut for cannabis possession and failure to appear.

At the time of their arrest, Rhode Island State Police said the bondsmen's warrant for the suspect was deemed "non-extraditable" and that it was against protocol for a suspect to get handcuffed or transported in the hallways of the court.

According to an affidavit obtained by NBC 10 News, a sheriff had removed the suspect, Julien Vasquez, from the cellblock, placed handcuffs on him, and released him to the bounty hunters in the public area outside the cell block.

Guadalupe and Sobota took Vasquez out into the main hallway and, with the help of Capitol Police, he was escorted out of the building and placed into a van without incident.

The affidavit also says Vazquez told a sheriff he had been informed that the bounty hunters were here to pick him up and he agreed to go with them.

But in an interview state police did with Vazquez after Guadalupe and Sobota were arrested, he indicated the bondsmen grabbed him "Real sternly, real hard," that he was removed from the courthouse against his will, and that the bondsmen "mocked me and made a big joke about everything."

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office told NBC 10 that there is no state law that authorizes bounty hunters, "as such the state laws on kidnapping and assault apply the same to bounty hunters from other states as to citizens here."

But Guadalupe argued there's no law that specifically bans bounty hunting in Rhode Island and he told NBC 10 News that "the facts of the case speak loudly to our innocence."

Both suspects are due back in court Nov. 19.

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