CEDAR FALLS – A Spirit Lake man who had volunteered for the University of Northern Iowa football team has been found guilty of sneaking snacks from the UNI-Dome concession area.
Judge George Stigler found JMychal L. Grau, 27, guilty of two counts of third-degree burglary on Wednesday following a bench trial. Sentencing will be at a later state, and the charge is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Investigators with the UNI police department said they had received complaints about thefts from a concessions area inside the Dome’s press box suite in 2018 and decided to plant a hidden camera in the location.
Assistant County Attorney Michelle Wagner said that around 4:25 p.m. on Nov. 18, the camera recorded Grau entering the concession area, opening drawers and removing items he placed in his pockets. Then on Nov. 25, the camera filmed Grau sliding open the concession service window, reaching inside and taking a box of candy, Wagner said.
During a police interview, Grau, a video production volunteer for UNI football, told investigators he was hungry and thought the stand contained expired product that was for the football team, according to testimony at trial.
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Wagner said the concession area was operated by Learfield/Panther Sports Properties, which isn’t affiliated with the football team.
Defense attorney Kevin Engels didn’t dispute Grau did something wrong, but he argued the offense was more akin to misdemeanor theft than burglary, a felony.
“We think this was overcharged,” Engels said.
Stigler said Grau’s explanation to police wasn’t credible, and he didn’t have legal access to the concession area.