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Drunken driver tried to bribe Walworth County deputy with free tires, complaint states

Drunken driver tried to bribe Walworth County deputy with free tires, complaint states

ELKHORN — A tire repair shop worker is facing a felony bribery charge after allegedly offering free tires to a police officer who stopped him on suspicion of drunken driving.

David Van Matre, 47, who works for F&F Tire World in Delavan, has been charged with bribery of a public official, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of six years in prison, if convicted.

Van Matre also has been issued a non-criminal traffic citation for operating while intoxicated-first offense.

A spokeswoman at F&F Tire World said Van Matre will not lose his job over the arrest, because he was forthcoming with his employer and because he has a good track record at work.

Spokeswoman Mary Kaiser said Van Matre has been with the Delavan-based automobile repair chain for 20 years. She also said he has never gotten into this sort of legal trouble before.

"When you have a little too much to drink, sometimes you say dumb things," Kaiser said. "It's sad, but he's taking it very seriously."

Van Matre, who lives in Beloit, could not be reached for comment.

He is due in Walworth County Circuit Court on March 13 for an initial appearance on the bribery charge.

According to a criminal complaint issued Tuesday by the Walworth County district attorney, a county sheriff's deputy in Elkhorn arrested Van Matre on Jan. 18 on suspicion of drunken driving. The complaint does not specify where the arrest occurred.

After a sheriff's deputy placed Van Matre in the back of a squad car, the suspect allegedly mentioned working for F&F Tire World. Prosecutors say he then offered the deputy and his wife "four new tires for free on their vehicles and free service on their vehicles" if the deputy would not cite him for operating while intoxicated.

Van Matre allegedly told the deputy the tires themselves would be worth "at least $600 per vehicle," prosecutors said.

According to the criminal complaint, the sheriff's deputy "politely declined the offer."

   

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