By Shereen Siewert
A former hotel owner convicted of soliciting a prostitute in Marathon County and accused of sabotaging a business competitor in Stevens Point was arrested this week in Iowa on theft charges — and is also facing an array of new charges in a Stevens Point fraud case.
Dharmesh Patel, 30, was arrested July 9 in Coralville, Iowa, after police searched the Baymont Inn & Suites, a hotel Patel was operating. Patel is accused of buying about $148,500 worth of “electronics, cleaning supplies and hotel accessories” between April and May using funds he obtained illegally, according to the criminal complaint. Police say Patel was engaging in identity theft to make those purchases.
The Coralville Police Department search warrant included information provided by the Stevens Point Police Department, according to a news release. Patel is also wanted in Stevens Point.
Patel faces charges of theft in the first degree in Iowa. Court records show he is also facing charges filed July 9 in Portage County Circuit Court of identity theft, theft by false representation, and six counts of bail jumping in connection with the investigation.
Patel has previously served jail time for fraud and also has a criminal record of fraud, theft and burglary in New Hampshire and Illinois. His mugshot first appeared in Wausau Pilot and Review on June 23, 2017, days after he was charged with soliciting a prostitute in Marathon County. Following his arrest Patel sent numerous emails in to Wausau Pilot and Review claiming his case had been dismissed and demanding his mugshot be removed, even sending a mocked up court document that seemed to back up his claim. At that time, Marathon County District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon confirmed that Patel’s case was still active.
On Aug. 18, 2017 Patel entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors that would have dropped the felony prostitution charge down to misdemeanor vagrancy if Patel had stayed out of trouble for a full year.
But on Oct. 5, 2017 Patel was charged again, this time in Portage County Circuit Court, after police say he cut copper water pipes leading to ice machines inside Country Inn & Suites on Division Street North. At that time Patel owned a competing hotel in Stevens Point.
According to the complaint, Stevens Point police were called to Country Inn & Suites in the early morning hours of Sept. 30, 2017 after employees there reported pipes on the hotel’s second and third floors had been intentionally cut, causing water to leak onto the floor.
When police questioned Patel, who was seen on surveillance video footage at Country Inn & Suites, they saw that he wore the same shoes identified by witnesses and visible in the video, police said.
Investigators also learned that Patel allegedly tried to hire a homeless man to plant bedbugs at another hotel and was plotting damage at a third business.
When those accusations surfaced, prosecutors made a motion in Marathon County Circuit Court to revoke their agreement with Patel. In November 2017 Circuit Judge Jill Falstad found Patel guilty on the prostitution charge and sentenced him to 14 days in jail. Patel was also ordered to pay a $150 fine plus court costs, and submit to a DNA sample.
A plea hearing had been set in the 2017 Portage County case for July 16. It is unclear what impact the new charges will have on any plea agreement that could have been in the works for the earlier case.