Written by Sarah Maslin Nir
In the early evening hours of Sept. 3, an employee at President Donald Trump’s golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey, heard music blasting across a fairway. He turned and saw a Ford Focus whipping in circles on the 11th hole.
Five days later, the Ford was back on the manicured grass, this time turning doughnuts on the 13th hole.
On Tuesday, police arrested Richard J. McEwan, 26, of Milford, New Jersey, and charged him with criminal mischief in connection with the two episodes at Trump National Golf Course, Trump’s luxury course about 40 miles west of Manhattan.
The car had churned up the turf, resulting in about $20,000 worth of damage, the Somerset County prosecutor’s office said.
“He will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law,” Kimberly Benza, a spokeswoman for the Trump Organization, said in an email.
But whipping around the Somerset County links was not the only spree for which McEwan was charged in the past few weeks.
On Aug. 30, police in Westerly, Rhode Island, said, he broke into a mansion belonging to musician Taylor Swift in the village of Watch Hill. McEwan was arrested after a neighbor noticed him hopping the fence, breaking a glass door and sneaking in, according to Chief Shawn Lacey of the Westerly Police Department.
Police officers found McEwan in a foyer inside Swift’s house, Lacey said. He had taken off his shoes and left them outside the mansion.
“There was a set of shoes on the floor, and he was found without shoes on, just a pair of socks on,” Lacey said Tuesday. “Obviously we asked, ‘Why are your shoes off?’ And he indicated, ‘I was raised to take my shoes off when you go into somebody’s house,’” Lacey said.
“He said it was the polite thing to do. Meanwhile, there is glass all over the floor from a broken door.”
Lacey said McEwan told police he had quit his job working with computers in May, fearful he was being watched by the government.
“I feel really bad for the kid,” Lacey said. “I hope the guy gets the help he needs.”
McEwan was charged in Rhode Island with willful trespassing and breaking and entering and released on a $5,000 bond on Sept. 3 — the same day New Jersey prosecutors said he first drove on Trump’s course in Bedminster. He is due in court in Rhode Island on Nov. 29. His New Jersey court date had not yet been set.
McEwan could not be reached for comment.
Swift purchased the 11,000-square-foot mansion in 2013 for $17.75 million, according to property records. There have been numerous incidents at the house since she moved in, the police chief said, but the break-in McEwan is charged with was the first time he recalled that someone had managed to get inside.
Trump’s golf course and other properties have also been routinely targeted, particularly since he became president. In 2017, police charged a man with third-degree criminal mischief after anti-Trump messages were scrawled across the grass at Trump National in Bedminster.