Police: Two men racked up charges on another man's account at hotel
Published: September 26, 2012
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ST. THOMAS - Two newcomers to St. Thomas started off their stay on the wrong foot after police say they used another man's hotel room number to rack up more than $500 worth of fraudulent charges, including expenditures for full-body massages and facial treatments.
Travis Cullen Becker and James Charles Vanderpool, both 20, told police they found a receipt from the room of a man - unknown to them - while wandering around the Marriott's Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort on Monday morning, according to court records.
Becker told police the saga began the night before, when he and Vanderpool began drinking at Hooters in Havensight. He said the two were not staying at the Marriott, but they began walking in that direction. Approaching the resort, they heard what Becker described as "great reggae music" and remained at the resort until they passed out between midnight and 1 a.m. on the resort's beach chairs, police said. Becker told police they were "extremely drunk."
However, Becker told police he did not sleep well because he "got eaten up by the mosquitoes." When he woke up in the morning, Becker headed to the resort's jacuzzi to relieve the itching, police said. While walking there, he stumbled upon the hotel guest's receipt, according to police.
In Vanderpool's version of events, the two friends were "very hungry" and saw this as an opportunity.
"This was a way we could get some food," he told police.
They spent $48 for the resort's all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, tipping an extra $12, Vanderpool told police. Then they slept some more by the pool, according to police.
When Vanderpool awoke, Becker already had made reservations for them both to get full-body massages and facial treatments at the resort's Lazule Sea Spa and Salon, according to Vanderpool's statement. On their way to the spa, they stopped in the resort's general store to buy two packs of Marlboro Red cigarettes, two Mountain Dews, two Elephant beers and a stick of Degree deodorant, according to court documents.
After their massages and facials, the pair showered in the spa's locker room and tried to leave the resort, but they were stopped by a man in a go-cart, Vanderpool told police.
Resort security was tipped off by a bartender at the resort's Sunset Grill, according to a probable cause fact sheet filed by V.I. Police Officer Nerissa Lewis. The bartender told the resort's security manager that Becker and Vanderpool had used the guest's hotel room number to buy food and drinks.
The bartender said he knew the guest, and he became suspicious about the men using his room number, Lewis wrote. When the bartender confronted Becker and Vanderpool, they got up and left, so the bartender alerted resort security.
A security guard spotted Becker and Vanderpool trying to leave the premises with their luggage in hand, according to Lewis. The guard apprehended the pair in bushes outside of the property and asked for police assistance.
When informed that they were suspected of defrauding the hotel, Vanderpool said he offered to pay for the improper charges, but he had no money with which to do so, police said.
He told police that he and Becker had moved to St. Thomas three days earlier, flying in from Maui, Hawaii. Both men have Arizona driver's licenses, according to their court files.
Vanderpool also said "someone locally" told them that the Marriott had a nice beach and that "the hotel doesn't give you problems when you sleep on the beach," according to police.
Becker and Vanderpool were each being held on a $10,000 cash-only bond after an advice-of-rights hearing Tuesday before V.I. Magistrate Judge Alan Smith, according to court records. The judge found probable cause to charge each man with defrauding a hotel, obtaining property by false pretenses, acting in assumed character, identity theft, forgery and grand larceny.
Neither man had posted bail as of Tuesday afternoon.
- Contact reporter Lou Mattei at 714-9124 or email email@example.com.