La Crosse man accused of trying to steal couple’s bar jackpot winnings, injuring patrons who tried to help

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(Associated Press)

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — A 44-year-old La Crosse man was charged with five felony counts for allegedly trying to steal a couple’s jackpot winnings in a bar drawing and injuring three people in an altercation with bar patrons who tried to capture him outside.

Samuel Thomas


Samuel L. Thomas was charged in La Crosse County Circuit Court Thursday with two felony counts of armed robbery/use of force as a repeat offender, three felony allegations of substantial battery/intent to cause bodily harm as a repeater and a misdemeanor charges of obstructing an officer as a repeater.

A man and his wife won a $4,300 in a jackpot “Queen of Hearts” drawing at Cheap Andy’s LAX bar in La Crosse on April 13, according to the criminal complaint. Concerned about the possibility of being robbed, the couple asked the bartender to hold $4,000 in the bars safe so they could get it the next day.

They applied the remaining $300 to an open bar tab to buy celebratory drinks, the complaint said.

The husband left the bar shortly after 9 p.m., and when his wife went out soon thereafter, she saw a masked man attacking him.

The assailant, who had a weapon later identified as a BB gun, had approached the husband and said, “Give me all your money, or I’ll shoot you,” according to the criminal complaint.

The husband, who wrestled with the assailant, gave him $50, was injured during the tussle, the complaint says.

Bar patrons who attempted to intervene also were injured as they wrestled the assailant to the ground before he was able to break free and run away.

Police later arrested Thomas, also known as Nathaniel A Thomas, outside a house on Old Town Hall Road.

In the fight, the husband suffered a cut face and a cracked rib, another man received a concussion and another suffered a cut head that required 10 staples to close at a hospital, according to the report.

If convicted, Thomas, who is in the La Crosse County Jail on a $25,000 bond, faces a fine of up to $100,000 or up to 40 years in prison, or both, on each of the charges of armed robbery/use of force as a repeat offender.

On each of the charges of substantial battery/intent to cause bodily harm as a repeater, he could be fined up to $10,000 or imprisoned for up to three years and six months, or both.

On the misdemeanor charge of obstructing an officer, he could be fined not more than $10,00 or imprisoned up to nine months, or both.

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