By Annette Christie
Watervliet man is arraigned in Weighmaster traffic stop gone badly
A Watervliet man will be back in court this week following a traffic stop in which he allegedly fled from a traffic stop that resulted in the dragging of the Berrien County Road Commission Weighmaster.
The Michigan State Police report that Berrien County Weighmaster Don Goulooze stopped a vehicle on County Line Road near 48th Avenue on July 11 at approximately 12:15 p.m. for disregarding a traffic control device. While having contact with the driver, the driver fled from the stop, dragging the officer along.
The Weighmaster was able to free himself and he returned to the patrol vehicle. He pursued the suspect north on County Line Road. The Weighmaster lost control of the patrol vehicle on 70th Street near 48th Avenue and ultimately it ran off the roadway and turned over.
The officer sustained injuries in the crash and was transported to the hospital where he was treated and released. He is expected to make a full recovery.
The suspect vehicle was located shortly afterward and it was learned the suspect had fled on foot into a wooded area in Van Buren County. A Berrien County K9 located the suspect hiding in the woods.
The 45-year-old Watervliet man, Frank Allen Clay, is scheduled for a pre-examination in Berrien County Trial Court on Friday, July 21 at 8:30 a.m. For this incident, he is charged with fleeing and eluding, operating while intoxicated, 3rd offense, and driving with a suspended license, 2nd offense.
Police warn: Keep your vehicles locked
Many times a year police agencies remind their citizens to keep their vehicles locked and to keep an eye out for suspicious activity. Just last week, Watervliet Police Chief Tim Sutherland put out one of those reminders following multiple thefts from cars that were unlocked.
Coloma Township Police Chief Jason Roe would like to issue a similar warning this week. Citing multiple vehicles being broken into in the Coloma and Watervliet communities during the month of July, Roe suggests, “Please remember not to leave valuables in your car and always lock your vehicle.”
In addition, Roe would like to remind residents that if they see anything suspicious to please contact the police immediately. “Please don’t wait until the next day,” Roe urges adding a familiar saying, “If you see something, say something.”
Open Intoxicants in drive-thru leads to arrest
A Coloma Township Police Officer was dispatched to the McDonald’s drive-thru on July 14 at approximately 10:43 p.m. for a vehicle that had an open alcohol container inside. The officer made contact with the driver who was still in the drive-thru.
The officer discovered evidence of marijuana as well while making contact with the driver. After searching the vehicle, the officer located marijuana and an open alcohol container.
The driver, a 26-year-old Coloma man, was arrested for possession of marijuana and transportation of open intoxicants in a motor vehicle. The subject was lodged in the Berrien County Jail.
Probation violation lands Bangor man in jail
On July 17 at approximately 5:55 p.m., the Coloma Township Police Department responded to a disturbance involving a knife in the 4700 block of Wil-o-Paw Drive.
After completing an investigation, it was determined that one of the subjects involved, a 27-year-old Bangor man, was in violation of a misdemeanor probation order. He was lodged at the Berrien County Jail.
Sen. Proos warns residents about summer tax scams
Sen. John Proos is warning Southwest Michigan families that cybercriminals are increasingly using summer tax scams that include impersonating state or federal tax officials, claiming residents owe taxes and demanding immediate payment.
“Scam artists are becoming bolder in their demands and cleverer in disguising who they are,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “I urge all Southwest Michigan taxpayers to look out for phone tax scams this summer, especially targeted populations, like our seniors.
“The best way to protect yourself from these schemes is to never give out credit or debit card numbers or other sensitive information to anyone claiming to be from the IRS or the Department of Treasury. They will never ask for that information over the phone.”
The Michigan Department of Treasury says that it typically observes scam phone calls throughout the summer where scammers make unsolicited calls claiming to be tax officials and asking for cash through a wire transfer, prepaid debit card or gift card.
The scammers may leave “urgent” callback requests through robocalls or phishing emails and alter caller ID numbers to make it look like Treasury or the IRS is calling. Victims who refuse to pay the amount they are told they owe are often threatened with arrest or legal action.
“Both state and federal tax officials will never initially contact residents by phone demanding immediate payment, and they will never threaten to call the police to arrest you for not paying,” Proos said. “If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from the Treasury or IRS and asking for personal information or threatening you in any way, hang up! It’s a fraud.”
Residents who suspect they have received a call from a scammer should report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/contact_report_scam.shtml or call the hotline at 800-366-4484.