Golf course vandalism arrest | News
CATSKILL - In Greene County, members of the Catskill Golf Club remain both angered and mystified as to why anyone would want to damage their golf course.
Once sheriff's investigators found out who was behind the vandalism spree, the mood quickly changed to shock and surprise.
Not only is Mariusz Witka, 20, a straight "A" college student, he's also apparently a well respected young man in the community. He also happens to be a former golf course employee credited with doing a top notch job maintaining the very things he's accused of destroying.
The damage to the Catskill Golf Club is random, reckless, and widespread. When sheriff's deputies responded early Friday morning, they found deep tire tracks from a car that ruined several fairways, scarred at least eight putting greens, and totally destroyed the expensive control box for the golf course irrigation system."
Brent Wheat, the golf course director, said, "We don't like to have our golf course mistreated from normal play and to have a malicious prank damage our golf course really hurts us."
The hurt turned to disappointment after investigators charged 20 year old Mariusz Witka with the overnight vandalism spree, making the arrest at nearby Columbia-Greene Community College where Witka says he's a straight "A" student.
Investigator A. M. Brainard, of the Green County Sheriff's Department says, "Pretty much the way (Witka) summed it up to me was he had a bad day and decided he was going to take a ride."
Investigator Brainard says NO alcohol was involved and Witka acted alone.
Golf course director Wheat said, "It was as much a surprise to us as it was to anybody else that someone who worked so hard on the golf course for us would then turn around and do the damage because part of what he damaged was his effort."
Witka declined an ON-CAMERA interview but did tell NewsChannel 13's Dan Levy, "I hope everyone knows who I truly am. I'm really sorry and remorseful for what I did. I made a bad mistake and I'm really sorry for it. To be honest with you, I don't know what I was thinking."
When the damages are finally totaled up, part of the cost will include the replacement of seven flag sticks, run over, splintered, and then left lying on the greens, each one worth about one hundred dollars.
Brent Wheat says the course also lost revenue because many golfers were turned away Friday. There were also overtime costs for the remaining maintenance workers.
Investigator Brainard calls Witka, "A good kid, respected by members of the community here."
A lot of people Brainard spoke too, he says, had good things to say about Witka.
Mariusz Witka is free on his own recognizance, facing a future court date charged with 2nd degree criminal mischief, a class D felony, and Petit Larceny, a class A misdemeanor. The larceny charge is for allegedly stealing gasoline from the golf course.
Some of the repairs will have to wait until springtime. That's when the final damage assessment will be completed.