Boat rental business owner arrested, free on bond

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – Police have arrested the owner of a houseboat rental business who is suspected of cheating his customers out of thousands of dollars.

The La Crosse County District Attorney's Office says Michael Fuchsel, 39, of La Crosse appeared in court on Thursday. Police say Fuchsel is now free on a signature bond.

On Wednesday night, the La Crosse Police Department arrested Fuchsel near his business, Mississippi River Rentals, on Joseph Houska Drive. Nearly 10 customers have reported paying for houseboat rentals, only to find there is no boat or money for a refund available to them. Sgt. Randy Rank says most of the rental agreements were for $2,500-$3,000 each.

A Mississippi River Rentals houseboat tipped over on the Mississippi River near Dresbach, MN in May. Eleven people were rescued. Six of them were taken to the hospital. Investigators have said that the boat may have lost power, and then was swept into the rollers at Lock and Dam 7.

Officers say they’re recommending that prosecutors file seven counts of Theft by Fraud against Fuchsel. The district attorney has not made a charging decision in the case.

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