Chicago men accused of stealing mail from New Berlin businesses, chucking it during pursuit

WAUKESHA COUNTY -- Charges were filed Tuesday, Feb. 4 against two Chicago men accused of throwing mail stolen from New Berlin businesses from a vehicle during a pursuit early on Monday, Feb. 3. Police said while people were enjoying the Super Bowl, thieves in New Berlin targeted mailboxes -- plucking envelopes with the goal of stealing cash, checks, and cards.

Keyante Bettis, 22, faces one count of attempting to flee or elude an officer, and four counts of misdemeanor theft, less than $2,500, as party to a crime. Prosecutors said he was driving with an expired license during this incident -- and a warrant out of Indiana. Additionally, prosecutors said the vehicle he was driving matched the description of a vehicle involved in a separate pursuit out of Dolton, Illinois.

Michael White, 32, faces four counts of misdemeanor theft, less than $2,500, as party to a crime. Prosecutors said he was Bettis' passenger early Monday.

This began just after 1 a.m. when an officer in a marked squad on Moorland Road near Coffee Road spotted a black sedan traveling at a slow rate of speed -- 28 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. The officer caught up with the vehicle near Moorland and National Avenue, and noticed the license plate was covered in so much dirt, it wasn't legible. Additionally, the criminal complaint said the driver deviated from his lane twice and also hit the centerline divider with his driver's side tires.

Keyante Bettis, Michael White

The officer attempted a traffic stop on Moorland near Beloit -- activating the squad's lights and siren. The vehicle pulled to the shoulder, stopping suddenly in a southbound lane of traffic on Moorland. The officer exited the squad to try to get a look at the license plate, at which point the black sedan continued on Moorland. Near the Moorland roundabout, the complaint said the driver jerked to the right and entered I-43 southbound -- merging directly in front of a semi. On the freeway, prosecutors said the driver changed lanes multiple times, and the vehicle's headlights were flicking on and off. At one point, the black sedan was clocked at 113 miles per hour, and at Calhoun Road, the officer noticed multiple pieces of paper being thrown from the vehicle.

Stop sticks were placed at Racine Avenue, and the complaint said the black sedan's front two tires struck those stop sticks before crossing under the Moorland overpass, at which point prosecutors said more objects were thrown from the vehicle. The black sedan slowed to 65 miles per hour, and sparks were seen coming from the driver's side area. The vehicle stopped on I-43 at the Crow Bar Road overpass.

Prosecutors said investigators identified the driver as Bettis, and the passenger as White. They noted an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle, and the complaint said Bettis appeared to be under the influence. The complaint said he asked investigators, "What if I was running because I had a couple drinks and I didn't want to get in trouble?" According to prosecutors, despite this, Bettis passed field sobriety testing.

A search of the vehicle, which included a K-9, resulted in the recovery of numerous pieces of mail, a black scale, and green leafy material (suspected marijuana), the complaint said. More mail was recovered from along the route of the pursuit -- all of it from New Berlin businesses.

Bettis was found to have an expired license, and a warrant out of Clark County, Indiana. He told investigators he "didn't throw anything" because he was "too busy driving," prosecutors said.

The mail was stolen from the following New Berlin businesses:

    Both men made their initial appearances in court Tuesday. Cash bond was set at $5,000 for Bettis, with a preliminary hearing set for Feb. 13. Cash bond was set at $500 for White, who pleaded not guilty Tuesday. A hearing was set for March 25.