By Brandi Makuski
A local hotel owner has been charged with causing substantial damage to one of his competitors.
Dharmesh Patel, 28, of Stevens Point was charged on Oct. 5 after police say he cut copper water pipes leading to ice machines inside Country Inn & Suites on Division St. North.
According to the complaint, Stevens Point police were called to Country Inn & Suites at 12:25 AM on Sept. 30 after employees there suspected pipes on the hotel’s second and third floors had been intentionally cut, causing water to leak onto the floor.
The culprit left the pipe cutter behind, according to District Attorney Louis Molepske.
“It was saturated so badly the drywall was crumbling,” Molepske said, adding water had also seeped into an elevator shaft, causing in excess of $5,000 in damages.
Molepske said hotel guests described two men near the ice machines around the time of the vandalism who identified themselves as plumbers. One man was described as wearing “black shoes with a white stripe”.
When police questioned Patel — who was captured on security video at Country Inn & Suites — they noted he wore the same shoes identified by witnesses and visible in the video. The officer stepped out of the room momentarily, and upon return noted Patel had changed his shoes.
During the course of the investigation, police learned Patel had also allegedly attempted to hire a homeless man to place bed bugs at another competitor, the Day’s Inn, in an attempt to shut it down, and planned to also cause damage at Cobblestone Hotel in the Downtown District.
Patel previously served jail time for fraud, and also has a criminal record of fraud, theft and burglary in New Hampshire and Illinois, Molepske said. He is currently on probation for a prostitution charge out of Marathon Co., according to court records.
Molepske asked Patel be held on a $2,500 cash bond, but Fluguar ordered a $10,000 signature bond. Patel was ordered to relinquish his passport and avoid contact with Day’s Inn, Country Inn & Suites, Cobblestone Hotel and their employees and guests, as a condition of bond.
Police say they are seeking any additional information available about the incident. Tipsters with information about the case should contact Sgt. Tony Babl at (715) 346-1515, or provide information anonymously via Portage County Crime Stoppers at 888-346-6600, or by texting “tip 1301” and the information to 274637.
Patel returns to court Oct. 16 at 1:30 PM.