By Patricia Wolff
of The Northwestern
February 22, 2006
GREEN LAKE - An Amish teenager will pay a fine and restitution to a
neighbor for illegally tapping into his telephone line.
James Bontrager, 17, W3950 Grand River Road, Markesan, pleaded guilty
in Green Lake County Circuit Court Jan. 23, to a charge of
He was fined $367 and ordered to pay $36.09 in long distance charges
to CenturyTel for calls the teen made on his neighbor's phone line to
a relative in Indiana. The Amish traditionally shun telephones and
other modern conveniences in their homes.
When confronted by Green Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Matthew Vande
Kolk, James Bontrager led the deputy to a shed on his property where
he had brought his neighbor's phone line inside. He also surrendered
the phone he had been using to call relatives, the documents said.
Bontrager claimed he did not know the neighbor would be charged for
the calls, according to court documents.
The crime came to light when Howard and Carol Lang of Markesan, called
the Green Lake County Sheriff's office in July of 2005 after noticing
charges on their bill that they did not make.
Carol Lang said she received calls three or four times a day where no
one would answer when she picked up the phone.
"I'd answer and could not hear anything. I'd hang up and they'd talk,"
Carol Lang said.
The wiretapping occurred after the Bontragers did some construction on
their property last summer. James Bontrager's father, Vernon Bontrager
told police he had seen his son digging in a flowerbed near the house
and suggested his son did the wiretapping to contact Indiana relatives
with whom he had been very close prior to moving to Markesan about
five years ago, the documents said.
After admitting to the wiretapping, Vande Kolk drove the Bontragers at
their request to the Langs' residence to apologize to them, according
to the documents.
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