published Saturday, March 3rd, 2012

Chattanooga bond company to pay for trip to retrieve Hamilton County official's son

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  • photo
    Daniel Hurst, the son of Hamilton County Register of Deeds Pam Hurst, who, after being charged with his third DUI, fled to Alaska, forcing the sheriff's office to spend $4,300 to go get him.
    Photo by Contributed Photo /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A local bonding company is being told it must pay the cost of a trip to Alaska in which a Hamilton County Sheriff's Office investigator picked up a fugitive in a DUI case.

Daniel Stephen Hurst, 30, son of Hamilton County Register of Deeds Pam Hurst, remained in Hamilton County Jail without bond on Thursday. He faces his third DUI.

After his DUI arrest in Hamilton County in September 2010, Hurst used Card Bonding Co. to post a $7,500 bond before disappearing. The sheriff's office has an invoice for $4,215 at the Criminal Court Clerk's Office that's in the process of being sent to Card Bonding, officials said. According to records, the sheriff's office spent $4,322 to retrieve Hurst from Alaska.

Hurst left Chattanooga weeks before a scheduled court appearance in June 2011 for his third DUI. If convicted of a third DUI, he could face up to 11 months and 29 days in jail.

Before his court date, he sold his Jeep to his mother for cash then flew to Alaska with another Chattanooga man and did not return until he was brought back.

His mother declined to comment on why she bought her son's vehicle or why she paid cash.

"It's a personal matter and he has to face the consequences of his decisions," Pam Hurst said Wednesday, noting her son has struggled in his personal life.

When asked why he chose to sell the Jeep, she said, "You'll have to ask him."

Daniel Hurst declined a jail interview Thursday.

Rex Card, co-owner of Card Bonding Co., said his company began receiving phone calls from friends of Hurst a couple of weeks before Hurst was scheduled to appear in court, warning that he was heading for Alaska.

"We would have liked to have caught him before he left, but that didn't happen," Card said. "We heard he was going up there with some guys to get as far away as he can."

During his time in Alaska, Hurst was arrested by the Kenai Police Department on another DUI charge. While running him through a national crime database, Alaskan authorities saw there was an open warrant for Hurst's arrest in Hamilton County.

Authorities in Alaska said he was at the Anchorage Correctional Complex from Aug. 13 until Nov. 17, 2011, when he was picked up by the Hamilton County Fugitive Unit.

Private bonding companies cannot retrieve fugitives who are incarcerated, only certified law enforcement officers are allowed to extradite fugitives.

The Hamilton County District Attorney's Office did not authorize Hurst being picked up before he left Chattanooga because, at the time, he had not missed a court date, according to prosecutors.

Hurst was convicted on a burglary charge in 2008 and placed on unsupervised probation for eight years, but the sentence did not bar him from leaving the state, according to court records.

Another Hamilton County defendant was extradited from Alaska in 2009. Jeffrey Jensen was initially picked up after he was indicted for custodial interference. He pleaded guilty but was ordered to pay restitution to the sheriff's office for the costs of the Alaskan trip, which came to $4,985.

Jensen had made one payment of $400 in November, but this year Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman signed an order to waive the remaining amount. Jensen told Steelman he had lost his job of eight years and has since gained custody of his son, the same child he was convicted of taking in the custodial interference case.

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