A Racine man is accused of taking Christmas wreaths from Mount Pleasant homes, then going door-to-door in Caledonia trying to sell them.
Israel Bentancourt, 35, was charged in Racine County Circuit Court Monday with one count of obstructing an officer. If convicted, he faces up to nine months in prison and $10,000 in fines.
According to the criminal complaint:
At 10:54 a.m. Saturday, a woman was in her home in the 3700 block of Haymeadow Road, when Bentancourt knocked on the door and said he had wreaths set to be delivered that had been purchased through the Boy Scouts. The woman told Bentancourt she wasn’t falling for his scam and told him to leave.
She reported the incident to the Caledonia Police Department and also told them a friend of hers had a similar incident occur at her home on Rivershore Drive.
Shortly afterwards, the officer found Bentancourt driving in the 2600 block of North Green Bay Road and pulled him over. Bentancourt denied trying to sell wreaths, saying he had been at home in the past hour and had just gone out for a drive to cool off after getting into an argument with his wife.
Bentancourt was placed under arrest for obstructing an officer and while getting handcuffed, he then admitted to trying to sell the wreaths, saying he did so because his mortgage was due and he needed money. He said he said the wreaths were left over from the Boy Scouts and a friend gave them to him, but he since put them in a dumpster.
However, when officers looked in Bentancourt’s trunk, they noticed the evergreen needles left behind were artificial and the Boy Scouts only sell real wreaths.
Caledonia police then contacted the Mount Pleasant Police Department, which was investigating the theft of wreaths from homes in the 2100 block of North Green Bay Road. Bentancourt then admitted the wreaths were stashed under a car parked inside his garage.
He’s currently being held in Racine County Jail on $100 bond.