Bounty hunters wanted by Fargo police for breaking down wrong door, lying to policeFARGO – Bounty hunters chasing criminals in Fargo last month face criminal charges after allegedly lying to police about breaking down the wrong person’s door in a fugitive search.
By: Emily Welker, INFORUM
FARGO – Bounty hunters chasing criminals in Fargo last month face criminal charges after allegedly lying to police about breaking down the wrong person’s door in a fugitive search.
Five people, including reality TV show star Rene Anthony Charles Greeno of “Southern Bounty Hunter,” were charged Friday in Cass County District Court
The charges come in connection with the bounty hunters’ September search for a man who skipped court. They didn’t find the man, but in early October they found a female wanted by U.S. marshals for skipping a court appearance on drug possession and concealed weapons charges.
Greeno, 27, of Summerville, S.C., is charged with one count of felony Class C criminal trespass, one count of misdemeanor Class A giving false information to law enforcement and one count of misdemeanor Class B criminal mischief.
Tanner James Olson, 21, of West Fargo, Jeremiah John Opheim, 29, of Moorhead, and Brooke Maryelle Starkweather, 20, of Moorhead, face charges of felony Class C criminal trespass and misdemeanor Class A giving false information. Dustin Ray Fredrickson, 25, of Moorhead, faces one charge of Class C felony criminal trespass.
Arrest warrants for all five were issued Friday.
Court documents filed with the cases state that Rebecca Sundeen reported to police Sept. 29 that her Fargo apartment had been broken into, with damage to the front door, but nothing taken.
A neighbor, Nick Meseck, told police he saw three people yelling in the hallway. One of the men kicked in an apartment door, all three people went in and then came out a few minutes later, with one of the men saying, “I thought the address had been confirmed.”
Meseck said the two men and one woman were wearing camouflage clothing, tactical vests and clothing stating “Bounty Hunter.”
Fargo Detective Ryan Nilson contacted Opheim, the owner of Moorhead-based Northern Bounty Fugitive Enforcement. Opheim said he had been looking for someone with the help of Southern Bounty Fugitive Enforcement and the other four people charged.
Opheim, Starkweather and Olson told Nilson they were involved in a downtown search for the male fugitive but denied they were involved with the break-in.
Fredrickson called police and told them he was working for Northern Bounty Fugitive Enforcement, keeping watch outside the apartment to see if anyone ran out.
When he heard the door being kicked in, he joined the others inside the apartment. That was when they realized it was a bad address, he said.
Starkweather also reportedly called police, saying she was involved in covering up the event and wanted to come clean.
Starkweather and Opheim told police they wanted to come clean sooner, but Greeno threatened them if anyone went to jail over the break-in.
Starkweather told police Greeno took the phone out of her hand as they left the scene that day, telling her he’d kill her daughter.
Court documents also state Greeno may have tried to set up someone else to take the fall.
A man claiming to be Kenneth Harris contacted Nilson to tell him he ran a fugitive apprehension company out of Oklahoma, and that he was the person who kicked the door in.
That person was Greeno attempting to divert the investigation, according to a police report filed with the charges.
Documents state Greeno also left multiple voicemail and text messages for Nilson, saying, “Your warrants can’t touch me where I am going,” and, “My family works for the marshal service and I know more people than you think.”
In a subsequent police interview, Greeno said he kicked open the door at Opheim’s request because Opheim heard the fugitive in the apartment. Greeno also told police Opheim’s credibility would be skewed if the case went to a jury trial because Opheim is mentally handicapped.
Greeno was previously quoted in a WDAY-TV story saying his group intended to work with Fargo police to apprehend another fugitive.
Fargo police Lt. Joel Vettel said the group was at no time working with his department, and that anyone doing fugitive apprehension work needs to be licensed as a bail bondsman in the state of North Dakota. He said Greeno’s statements were an attempt to legitimize his operation.
Vettel said Fargo police and state officials continue to investigate the case, including allegations Greeno threatened to kill people if they cooperated with police.
“They have caused some concern not only for us but also for other law enforcement agencies around the region, and around the country,” Vettel said.
Vettel said anyone confronted by members of the bounty hunter group should contact the Fargo police immediately.
“I think we’ve made it very clear to them they should not be in the city of Fargo. And if they do, they are making a very serious mistake,” he said.
Vettel said he expected members of the group to turn themselves in voluntarily.
Readers can reach Forum reporter
Emily Welker at (701) 241-5541