Man claims assault by local bounty hunter

Steve Garrison
James Fitzgerald

FARMINGTON — Police are investigating new allegations of assault by a local bounty hunter.

Patrick Aguilar told The Daily Times in an interview Monday that fugitive recovery agent James Lee Fitzgerald entered his home without permission on June 10 and pointed a gun at him while he was asleep in bed with his two children.

"My kids woke up screaming," Aguilar said. "I said, 'Please, you have me restrained, please put the gun away. My daughter is right here." 

Aguilar, 38, said he complied with Fitzgerald's orders and was placed in handcuffs. He was booked into the jail by Fitzgerald on several warrants for failure to appear in court, according to jail records.

Fitzgerald's attorney, Steve Murphy, said today he was not aware of the new allegations made by Aguilar and therefore could not comment.

Aguilar said he reported the incident to the San Juan County Sheriff's Office.

"That guy doesn't need to be carrying a firearm, if he can't take his finger off the trigger," Aguilar said.

Sheriff's office detective Sgt. Candice Montoya confirmed today the incident was under investigation.

"We are nearing a resolution as to whether to file charges," Montoya said.

Fitzgerald, 32, was charged June 15 with aggravated burglary and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon on allegations he pointed a gun at a homeowner in San Juan County while attempting to arrest a woman on a misdemeanor warrant, according to arrest records.

Fitzgerald told deputies the shotgun was loaded with pepper balls, and claimed a badge identifying him as a fugitive recovery agent was visible to the resident, records state.

 Aguilar was free on June 10 after Howell Bonding posted bonds. 

Howell Bonding owner Andy Howell confirmed today he employed Fitzgerald as a fugitive recovery agent.

Howell said he would continue to employ Fitzgerald unless he is convicted.

"We sent James to arrest (Aguilar) and that is what he did," Howell said.

Steve Garrison covers crime and courts for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4644.