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An attempt to shake money out of a gambling machine eventually led to a slew of criminal charges being filed Friday in Racine County Circuit Court against a 28-year-old Oak Creek man.

Nicholas A. Latus faces four felony bail-jumping charges, four misdemeanor bail-jumping charges, along with misdemeanor charges of criminal damage to property, disorderly conduct, possession of drug paraphernalia and attempted theft.

Each of the felonies carries a fine of $10,000 and six years in prison. The misdemeanors carry a total fine of $56,500 and more than four years in county jail.

According to the criminal complaint: A village of Caledonia police officer was dispatched to the Pilot Truck Stop, 13712 Northwestern Ave., where a group of customers had detained the defendant after he attempted to break into the machine.

When the officer arrived, a deputy with the Racine County Sheriff’s Department had Latus in custody and had recovered three capped needles, a tourniquet, a cooking tin, a metal crack pipe with burnt Chore Boy (a scouring pad often used for smoking crack cocaine) in it, a torn Q-tip and a cotton ball from the defendant.

The store manager told police he saw Latus rocking the machine in an attempt to shake coins out of it. TSeveral customers grabbed the defendant and held him down until law enforcement officers arrived. Another witness stated Latus was banging on the machine with his fist, rocked it back and forth and then climbed on top of it to rock it harder. At one point, the machine tipped over and fell to the ground.

Latus attempted to flee but was held down by customers.

A K-9 unit arrived and alerted officers to a number of pieces of drug paraphernalia in the defendant’s vehicle. Court records indicate the defendant was free on bond in two separate cases in Milwaukee County and also had an active arrest warrant out of that county.
Latus, who made his initial court appearance Friday, will return for a preliminary hearing Oct. 10 at 9 a.m.

Rex Davenport

Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.