LAPORTE | A LaPorte County work release offender, driving without a license, crashed into another vehicle this week and fled police.
LaPorte County Sheriff Mike Mollenhauer said no offender should be allowed to get into a vehicle and leave for work or anywhere else without a driver’s license.
"Here’s another individual who's suspended, who's driving back and forth," said Mollenhauer.
The 34-year-old offender pulled out of the work release center on Zigler Road on Sunday night into the path of another motorist, a 19-year-old LaPorte woman.
The driver told another offender waiting for a ride, "I’m not going back to jail," then took off in his 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee, according to LaPorte County police.
Officers went to a couple of homes where he previously lived, but did not find him.
Police are seeking a warrant for his arrest on charges of driving on a suspended license and fleeing the scene of a crash.
The issue first came to light in November when the wife of the sheriff, Sue Mollenhauer, backed into the vehicle of Ronald Robinson outside a convenience store on LaPorte’s west side. Sue Mollenhauer said she did not know she hit the vehicle and went home.
The sheriff claimed Robinson’s license also was suspended, but Dick Buell, LaPorte County community corrections director, insisted Robinson had a valid license. Buell said all offenders are screened when they are checked in to make sure they have a valid driver’s license.
However, Buell said whether an offender decides to drive their own or someone else's vehicle — even on the premises of the work release center — it is out of his staff’s control.
"You can’t stop him from driving unless you’re with him all of the time," said Buell, adding any offender caught driving with a suspended license must go before the conduct adjustment board and face a possible return to a jail and other potential disciplinary action.
According to court records, the driver in Sunday's incident has an extensive criminal history ranging from burglary and battery to driving on a suspended license, having false license plates and operating while intoxicated.