BENNINGTON -- A Gage Street man is accused of leaving the scene of two separate vehicle crashes that occurred days apart, and of being under the influence of alcohol while driving during the second crash.

Charles T. Batease, 46, pleaded not guilty Monday in Vermont Superior Court to two misdemeanor counts of leaving the scene of a crash with property damage, and of a second offense of driving under the influence of alcohol. He was released under the conditions that he not drive or consume alcohol.

According to an affidavit by Bennington Police Officer Joshua Stemp, on Feb. 7 he responded to Route 279 to find a 1995 Ford F-150 that had gone off the road and hit a sign, breaking the bottom part and pinning the driver’s side door shut. The driver was nowhere to be found, but police determined the truck was owned by Batease, who called police the next day to say he had been the driver and had lost control after the truck broke a tie rod. He said he did not think he hit anything besides a plow guide and got a ride home from a friend who he would not name.

Officer Amanda Thompson wrote in a second affidavit that on Feb. 20 she was called to a scene on Mechanic Street where a truck had hit some mailboxes and it was reported the driver made a comment about not being able to afford another DUI. Thompson learned the truck belonged to "Todd Batease" which Charles Batease sometimes goes by, Todd being his middle name.

Thompson spoke to a person who said they talked with the driver of the truck who offered them $20 to help him move the truck, saying he could not afford to be charged with a DUI. The person refused, then the driver offered them $40 which was also turned down.

Batease told police he hit the mailboxes because something broke in his truck. He said he told the mailboxes’ owner but the person did not care. He did not report it to police because he did not think he had to. He told police he offered a man $20 for a ride into town, but denied offering him $40 and denied making any comments about getting a DUI.

The owner of the mailbox said a person came to his door asking for help getting his truck from the snow, but left when the homeowner said they would call for help instead. The person said nothing about hitting a mailbox and the owner did not know it had been hit until the next day when they found the box and their mail in the neighbor’s yard.

Thompson wrote that she spoke to a bartender at Kevin’s Sports Pub and Restaurant who said Batease had been drinking there the night of Feb. 20.

Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at kwhitcomb@benningtonbanner.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.