A Waupaca man is accused of intentionally crashing his own truck, then reporting it stolen in order to have his insurance pay to fix an oil leak.
Jeffrey C. Potratz, 57, Waupaca is charged with insurance fraud and obstructing an officer.
Two of his friends who allegedly lied to police about the vehicle being stolen, Raymond and Tracy Cole, both of Waupaca, are charged with obstructing an officer.
Shortly before midnight on April 18, Waupaca County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Lewinski met with Potratz at his home in the town of Lind.
Potratz reported that his 2014 black Dodge pickup truck had been stolen.
According to the criminal complaint, Potratz told Lewinski he had gone with his friends, Raymond and Tracy Cole, to Pick ‘n Save to pick up some items. He said they then went to the New London area to watch the sturgeon spawn.
When they returned to Potratz’s home at approximately 11:30 p.m., they discovered the truck was missing, Potratz reportedly said. He also said a rolling tool cabinet was missing.
On the morning of April 19, the Dodge pickup truck was found in Waushara County, where it had apparently crashed into a tree.
The truck was towed to the county’s Annex in Manawa, where it was held as evidence.
On April 22, Lewinski and Deputy Josh Krueger met with Raymond Cole, who said he and his wife had taken Potratz to Pick ‘n Save, then to New London to watch the sturgeon, then back to his home, where they found his truck was missing.
On April 29, Lewinski viewed security tapes from the Waupaca Pick n’ Save. He noticed the Coles parked their vehicle on the far north end of the parking lot. He did not see Potratz enter or exit the store with them.
On May 1, Lewinski went to Potratz’s home again after he called to report someone had siphoned gas from his rental car.
Lewinski began questioning Potratz about apparent inconsistencies in his account of the night his truck was stolen.
Deputy Bill Zeamer arrived to assist in questioning Potratz.
Potratz later told deputies he crashed the truck himself in order to fix an oil leak the dealer refused to fix under Wisconsin’s “Lemon Law.”
On May 2, Lewinski interviewed Raymond Cole, who admitted Potratz had not been with him and his wife when they went to Pick ‘n Save or to see the sturgeon.
Cole said he purchased some items for Potratz and dropped them off at his house at about 9 p.m., according to the complaint. He said Potratz wanted to get rid of his truck and asked Cole to help him crash it.
The Coles allegedly followed Potratz as he drove out to an isolated road in Waushara County, then gave him a ride back home after he crashed it into a tree.