Steven Kunes is a very creative guy. With a background of having submitted a bogus J.D. Salinger interview to People Magazine back in 1982, then later selling an equally bogus interview of singer Jimmy Buffett to The Santa Barbara Daily Sound, he was arrested in 2011 for swindling a Santa Barbara restaurant owner out of funds invested for a purported movie.
Not only did the movie never get made, but Kunes failed to make his court appearance on those fraud charges; he was later captured in New Jersey, returned to Santa Barbara Superior court, and sentenced to five years in jail on burglary and grand theft charges.
When he was sent to Santa Barbara County Jail under California’s AB109 guidelines (intended to ease prison overcrowding), he was released from the jam-packed local jail with a GPS monitoring device affixed to his ankle. He promptly went to the nearest FedEx store, cut the device off his leg, boxed it up, and sent it back to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s office.
According to SBPD Public Information Officer Kelly Hoover, Kunes is the first AB109 prisoner to remove the GPS device and “because it was the first case of its kind, the protocol wasn’t clearly defined on how to handle that situation,” which may explain why a warrant for his arrest was not issued for a full four months.
But Kunes’ taunt did not go unappreciated by Ted Toedte of the Felony Fugitive Extradition Office, who took the gesture personally. Wise in the ways of today’s burgeoning social media, Teodte posted Kunes’ smiling face all over the Sheriff’s Facebook page…and waited.
Just a few days later, Toedte received an email from a Carpinteria citizen to the effect that Kunes had been spotted in Carpinteria, frequenting the popular Palms Restaurant. Shortly thereafter, SBPD Deputies arrived at the restaurant and took Kunes into custody without incident.
Kunes was transported to Santa Barbara County Jail, where he remains in custody on charges of felony escape.
Photo: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
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