Scott Bernstein, 53, a self-described private investigator and bounty hunter with a long and “colorful” criminal record, was arrested in New York after two people complained to the police that Mr. Bernstein was brandishing a pistol in a menacing manner while he interviewed them at his Wesley Hills office on January 5, 2012.
Bernstein had a previous felony conviction in the state of California and misdemeanor convictions in New York; because of the previous charges Bernstein is not allowed to possess a handgun.
Detective Lynch stated that there are no records of him having a pistol permit in the state of New York. He added “We went and obtained an arrest warrant for him and a search warrant for his home-office.”
Ramapo officers arrested Bernstein with the assistance of the Rockland Rescue Entry and Counter Terrorism Team, the county’s SWAT unit. Inside his home office they found two semiautomatic pistols and “Chuka sticks,” a martial arts weapon.
Ramapo Police charged Bernstein with one count of third-degree criminal possession of a weapon and two counts of second-degree menacing. According to police documents the persons who accused Bernstein of being menaced, waited over a week before reporting it to the police. According to William Reddy, Bernstein’s lawyer, the charges are going to be challenged in court because the complaints and charges were fabricated and thus the warrants were obtained without legal cause.
A simple check of Mr. Bernstein’s background reveals that he has been arrested in the past for other criminal charges. In 2005, Bernstein pulled over a driver and caused $936 of damage to the vehicle. At the time Bernstein admitted to pulling over cars, his crimes caught up to him after pulling over an off-duty South Nyack-Grand View police officer.
Bernstein pleaded guilty to a count of fourth degree criminal mischief and two counts of second degree criminal impersonation; all misdemeanors. He apparently used his black Dodge Intrepid equipped with emergency lights and sirens to pull vehicles over across the city.
The below photo is a screen shot of Scott Bernstein’s public Facebook profile on January 30, 2012; it raises many more questions. Is that gun real? Was it one of the handguns recovered by Ramapo police officers while executing the search warrant? When was the photo taken? If the photo was taken and posted on 12/22/2010, as Facebook data and the cut-off date stamp on the photo might suggest, then it was AFTER he pleaded guilty to a felony count of impersonating a police officer in California. Is Santa real? Has Santa’s sleigh been pulled over by Bernstein on a public roadway? Is that a black Dodge Intrepid in the background? Does Santa Claus feel menaced? Why the heck is Santa Claus not at the North Pole 3 days before Christmas???
An online check regarding Mr. Bernstein’s past reveals that he has been accused of other crimes; ScamChecker.com contains multiple accusations against Mr. Bernstein, too. In 2005 Mr. Bernstein came under investigation when he pretended to be a police officer by flashing a badge to get information regarding the disappearance of Laci Peterson during his own self-styled investigation. You can read more about the case in which Mr. Bernstein pleaded no contest to one felony count of impersonating a police officer, after a prosecutor dropped four felony counts and five misdemeanor counts.
It should also be noted that this author was unable to find a state-issued (and required) private investigator or bail enforcement license for Scott Bernstein in New York.
In research for this article, we found that Bernstein had his PI license renewal denied and his license subsequently revoked. In a New York Department of State (the licensing authority for both private investigators and bail enforcement agents in New York) ruling published on 12/23/2008, one department official wrote “WHEREFORE, IT IS HEREBY DETERMINED THAT Scott Bernstein has violated 19 NYCRR §173.1 and demonstrated untrustworthiness and incompetence in violation of General Business Law §79(1)(d). Accordingly, pursuant to General Business Law §79, the respondent’s license as a private investigator is revoked, effective immediately.”
Bernstein’s subsequent appeal was denied.