A tough-as-nails mom who hunts bail jumping defendants for a living is poised to capture fame as she begins a new career in reality television.
“I love the hunt; I like it much better than being in the office. No makeup, Uggs on, hair in a cap, getting down low, eating in the car. I love that!” said the president of Empire Bail Bonds, Michelle Esquenazi.
These days, Esquenazi rarely jumps on bounty hunting assignments with her team, but her take-no-prisoner attitude, signature red curly locks and high heels landed her a starring role on reality television.
Lifetime Movie Network premieres the first episode of “Queen of the Bounty Hunters” on Sunday at 9:30 a.m.
The show will depict how Esquenazi prides herself on being a mother of four while running a family owned-and-operated business across the five boroughs and upstate New York.
"I plan on using the show as a platform to educate on what the bail bonds industry is all about," said Esquenazi.
“We are the P.C. Richards of the bail bonds industry, we have been around the longest, we are family owned and we ensure what we do,” said Esquenazi, who employs up to 60 people.
In the early 1990s, Esquenazi was a single mother of three and studying to become a paralegal, before she interviewed at her cousin-in-law’s bail bonds office in Manhattan.
She worked diligently to get her family off of welfare and sacrificed missing a lot of events during as her kids grew up.
"I had to drag my kids into court on the weekend some times when a defense attorney would call me about needing bond for their client...didn't matter what time or day it was," said Esquenazi.
Defense attorneys have her on speed dial and she is known as "The Bail Bonds Queen" or "Queen" for short.
"Queen of the Bounty Hunters," Michelle Esquenazi, is president of Empire Bail Bonds.
Esquenazi's niece and nephew are her partners while two of her children in their 20s also apply their insurance and risk management skills into the business.
The 48-year-old Long Island woman received multiple offers to do a reality show since making headlines by bringing Jonathan Roth — a Long Island son who helped his father fake his drowning death in an insurance scam in 2013 — back to New York, but it wasn't the right time, she said.
"I plan on using the show as a platform to educate on what the bail bonds industry is all about," said Esquenazi who has a strong stance on bail reform and is the chairperson with the New York State Bail Bonds Association.
While taping over the summer, Esquenazi's hunters enjoyed the experience, but had a hard time making bust because "everyone knew Michelle," said Thomas Avila, 43.