The co-owners of Mississippi River Rentals have been charged with theft and owe clients a total of $7,350, according to a criminal complaint.
La Crosse police received 52 total complaints about Michael Fuchsel, 39, and Kristina Short, 39, both of La Crosse.
According to rental confirmation paperwork, $750 becomes a security deposit and will be refunded by mail seven to ten days after the return of the houseboat. The complaint details five specific cases where the client’s security deposit was not returned after their trip.
In some cases, the trip did not happen because they either did not hear back from Fuchsel or Short, or the boat was not ready for use, the complaint states. In one case, the client reported that the hot tub, television and toilet were all broken.
In another case, when the client arrived on July 23, she was told that the boat was not ready and needed to be cleaned. The complaint states she was asked to return the next day. When she did, she discovered the refrigerator was not working and the boat would not run. Short agreed to return their deposit and uncashed rental check and also stated that they would need to collect additional deposits in order to get the client’s money returned. The client did not receive the refund of her deposit.
Short and Fuchsel are scheduled to appear in court on Friday, August 23.
In late May, a rented houseboat from Mississippi River Rentals went over Lock & Dam No. 7 near Dresbach, Minnesota, with 11 people on board. All were pulled from the water safely. The Winona County sheriff's officials said they weren't recommending any criminal charges in that case.