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‘Bounty hunters’ fight kidnapping charges

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two Connecticut bail bondsmen arrested in February for an alleged illegal apprehension entered not guilty pleas in court Tuesday, vowing to fight the charges.

Angel Guadalupe, of Bristol, Conn., and William Sobota, of Burlington, are charged with kidnapping and conspiracy counts.

“The case speaks loudly to our innocence,” Guadalupe said after a brief hearing before Magistrate John McBurney in Providence Superior Court. 

The Rhode Island Attorney General’s office alleges state law does not allow out-of-state “bounty hunters” to execute warrants in the state. 

Both defendants question that interpretation of the law and insist they “did everything right” when they apprehended Julian Vasquez on an outstanding warrant from the Norwich Police Department.

The warrant “was later deemed non-extraditable” by the Attorney General’s office, according to the Rhode Island State Police report on the incident.

A Rhode Island Sheriff’s Department report indicates the bondsmen provided their Connecticut Bail Bond licenses to deputies along with the warrant for Vasquez.

The sheriff’s report also states Vasquez said he was told the bondsmen were there “to pick him up and he agreed to go with them.”

But while Vasquez “agreed to go,” the document says a woman identified as his girlfriend “began yelling and screaming, stating, ‘you cannot take Julian. The state police said you have no right.'”

According to the sheriff’s report, deputies advised the girlfriend not to interfere, and allowed the bondsmen to take custody of Vasquez after a deputy used Sobota’s handcuffs to secure him.

A statement Vasquez gave to state police contradicts the sheriff’s department report, with Vasquez telling a trooper, “they dragged me around the courthouse and brought me to their car,” and also “mocked” him.

Guadalupe and Sobota drove off with Vasquez but were called by state police and agreed to pull over near Exit 13 on I-95.

A short time later, the two were arrested themselves and charged, while Vasquez was freed. 

Guadalupe and Sobota are due back in court November 19 for a pretrial hearing.

Court records indicate Vasquez, who is 25, could be very familiar with the warrant system in Rhode Island, where his name has been on 38 warrants since 2011.

Most recently a warrant was issued August 1, 2018, for failing to appear in an October 2017 drug case out of Providence.

Vasquez had pleaded no contest to one of two counts in May and received a five-year suspended sentence while the state dismissed the second charge.

The August warrant remains active according to a court spokesperson.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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