West Des Moines man climbs tree to elude arrest Wednesday

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Matthew John Bertagnolli, 42, of West Des Moines was arrested Wednesday on a Dallas County warrant and on charges of controlled substance violation, failure to affix drug stamp and interference with official acts.


A West Des Moines man tried to elude arrest vertically Wednesday morning by climbing a tree in the Jordan Creek shopping area.

Matthew John Bertagnolli, 42, of 6306 Beechtree Dr., West Des Moines, was arrested on a Dallas County warrant for violation of probation and on charges of controlled substance violation, failure to affix drug stamp and interference with official acts.

The incident began about 7:30 a.m. Wednesday in the 400 block of Jordan Creek Parkway, where officers of the West Des Moines Police Department responded to a report of possible shoplifting from a retail store.

Bertagnolli “was observed hiding in a tree from police” in the 7200 block of Mills Civic Parkway, according to court records.

The officers directed Bertagnolli “to show his hands and stay on the ground,” but he allegedly “took off running from police” and “had to be tackled,” according to court records.

Bertagnolli allegedly “continued to resist arrest after several verbal commands to stop,” and “four officers had to assist in getting handcuffs on” Bertagnolli as he “physically resisted officers as he was placed into a marked police vehicle,” according to court records.

A search of Bertagnolli’s person allegedly disclosed “a small, plastic, vacuum-sealed bag, containing 14 and one-half green-in-color pills, marked with ‘S 90 3.’ These pills were identified as Alprazolam,” according to court records.

A warrant for Bertagnolli’s arrest for failure to appear was ordered May 5 in Dallas County District Court and served July 14. He is held in the Dallas County Jail in advance of an appearance in the Dallas County District Court.

Bertagnolli was convicted of first-offense possession of a controlled substance in 2012 in Polk County District Court. He was convicted of two counts of second-offense possession of a controlled substance in January 2021 in Dallas County District Court. He was arrested on three counts of third or subsequent offense possession of a controlled substance May 1 in Des Moines. The case is pending in Polk County District Court.

*A criminal charge is merely an accusation, and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.

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