Lady Lake men jailed after making cash demands for return of stolen golf cart

Two Lady Lake men were arrested Thursday night in connection with a tangled web that involved a stolen golf cart, contacting friends of the owner, hiding the vehicle in the woods and demanding $500 for it.

Jonathan Robert Haupt and Alexander Gene Kouse

A man told deputies that he had parked his 2007 silver Yamaha golf cart under a billboard in Summerfield at the corner of U.S. Hwy. 441 and SE Hwy. 42 around midnight on Monday, Dec. 3 before walking across the street to a gas station to buy cigarettes. He then went to DJ and Gina’s Lounge and when he came outside to go home, his golf cart was missing, a Marion County Sheriff’s Office report states, adding that tools valued at $200 and dentures valued at $5,000 were in the cart.

On Thursday, the golf cart’s owner called Marion County deputies for help after receiving a phone call from a friend telling him that he could get his cart back but the man who had it, later identified as 40-year-old Jonathan Robert Haupt, wanted $500.

The owner told deputies he also received a call from another friend who told him the golf cart was located in a wooded area off Grays Airport Road. The friend asked the owner to give him $500 so he could get the cart back from 26-year-old Alexander Gene Kouse, who supposedly had possession of it, a sheriff’s office report states.

The owner told deputies that he had given Kouse a ride the night his golf cart was stolen. He said they wouldn’t let Kouse into DJ and Gina’s Lounge, so he went in without him. A short time later, he said, Kouse came inside the bar to say his ride had come to pick him, the report says.

Eventually, at the request of sheriff’s deputies, the golf cart’s owner agreed to meet one of the men who called him at the gas station on the corner of U.S. Hwy. 441 and Hwy. 42. That man was taken into custody and then told deputies that Haupt, Kouse and the man who originally had called the golf cart’s owner about purchasing it for $500 were sitting in a car at the nearby Family Dollar store. Detectives responded to the discount store and detained all three men, the report says, adding that Haupt agreed to show them where the stolen cart was being kept.

The golf cart was soon recovered from a wooded area in Carlton Village in Lady Lake. Kouse admitted to knowing the golf cart’s owner and going to the bar with him, but he denied stealing it. He then requested an attorney and stopped talking. But a few minutes later he told the deputy that he didn’t steal the cart but did move it from the house at 40140 Palm Street in Lady Lake where he and Haupt were staying, the report says.

Haupt said he told Kouse to get the cart away from their house. He admitted to knowing that it was stolen and to messaging one of the owner’s friends about selling it to him for $500, the report says.

Both Kouse and Haupt were taken into custody and transported to the Marion County Jail. Kouse was charged with larceny/grand theft and released Saturday at 7:04 p.m. on $2,000 bond. He is due in court Jan. 8 at 9 a.m. to answer to the charge.

Haupt was charged with two counts of dealing in stolen property and held on $3,000 bond. He also is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 8 at 9 a.m.