A Columbia County Jail inmate is back in custody following an alleged escape.
Zachery T. Otto, 18, Portage, has been charged with escape-criminal arrest, a class H felony, in Columbia County. At his initial appearance on Oct. 25, Otto appeared by video in custody, Judge Todd Hepler set Otto’s cash bond at $10,000 with standard felony conditions.
According to the criminal complaint, on Oct. 14 Otto was allowed to leave the jail and go to the Department of Motor Vehicles in Portage to get an ID card. Jail staff noted at 7 a.m. on Oct. 15 Otto had still not returned to the Columbia County Jail.
One jail employee reported Otto saying, “I’ll see you in a couple of hours” as he left the jail.
On Oct. 21 Otto’s Huber privileges were revoked following an order by Judge Cross. Otto was granted Huber privileges on Oct. 8 under the rules and regulations of the Columbia County Jail.
Portage Police issued a press release regarding Otto and a number of alleged car thefts in the Portage and Madison area. During April and May the department took nine citizen reports of vehicles being stolen.
“Almost all of these stolen vehicles were later recovered in the city of Madison or in the surrounding communities of Madison,” Capt. Daniel Garrigan said. “The Portage Police Department has been actively investigating these vehicle thefts for the past six months.”
In June, Otto was arrested for charges that were not related to the vehicle thefts. That is when Otto was charged with operating a motor vehicle without owner consent after further investigation.
Then on Oct. 22 Portage Police completed the car theft investigation and brought Otto back into custody for seven counts of operating a motor vehicle without the owners consent.
Portage Police were assisted by five area police departments and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
Online records show he has not been officially charged for the seven additional alleged car thefts.
On Nov. 3 Otto will be in court for his preliminary hearing in the escape case in front of Judge Andrea Von Hoff.