July 17, 2012 | 03:36 PMELKHORN — After his arrest for domestic abuse, a 30-year-old Black Earth man allegedly collected unemployment checks while incarcerated at the Walworth County Jail.
On June 28, the Walworth County District Attorney's Office filed three misdemeanor theft charges against Michael D. Hatton, 1138 Mills St. Each misdemeanor count carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and $10,000 in fines.
The domestic abuse charges stem from an incident in which Hatton allegedly threatened to run over a woman with his van and chased her with a knife.
In that case Hatton has been charged with second-degree reckless endangerment, a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment and $25,000 in fines.
He also faces a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct.
Recently filed court documents indicate Hatton's public defender and prosecutors were working on an agreement in the domestic abuse case.
"Settlement in this case involved the state not issuing new charges based on resolving the matter set for trial," Travis Schwantes, Hatton's public defender, wrote.
Schwantes also stated all parties were aware charges were possible since February.
According to the criminal complaint on the theft charges:
Jeff Oliver, of the Department of Work Force Development, reported that Hatton was receiving unemployment compensation while incarcerated.
Recipients of unemployment need to be available to work, but at the time Hatton didn't have work-release privileges.
Oliver reported that someone else can call in for the recipient, but the account holder is responsible for what is said.
In a recorded call Dec. 8, 2011, at the jail, Hatton asked a woman to call in his benefits. The woman said this was illegal.
Hatton responded that he had done it before and all he had to do was pay it back later.
During the call, Hatton told the woman how to file the claim, gave his Social Security number and acknowledged he couldn't say much because the call was being recorded.
According to the criminal complaint on the domestic abuse charges:
At about 2:56 a.m., on July 7, 2007, police spoke to two adults who said their neighbor in Geneva Township ran to them stating she wanted to be away from Michael Hatton.
The neighbors told police they observed Hatton come from around the side of the house holding a knife, at which point the woman ran away.
When police spoke to the victim, she said earlier in the evening she and Hatton had a dispute. During the dispute, Hatton entered a van and chased the victim, who was on foot.
The victim told police she believed Hatton was attempting to run her over. She said this is when she ran to the neighbor's home.
In 2007, the Walworth County District Attorney's Office filed a felony charge of second-degree reckless endangerment and misdemeanor disorderly conduct against Hatton.
However, those charges were dismissed without prejudice, which allows for the charges to be filed again. On Nov 5, police responded to a residence in the city of Delavan and spoke to the victim, who was crying. The victim said she had an argument with Hatton about money. During the argument, Hatton threw a safe across the room causing damage to a dresser.
During the altercation, Hatton hit the victim on the lower lip with a partially closed fist. The victim said she felt threatened by Hatton's behavior and that he has a "history of this, which scares me even more."