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COLUMBUS – A 29-year-old North Dakotan has pleaded no contest to an overnight Nov. 1 break-in at a Columbus sports bar and restaurant in which a safe, stereo equipment, video surveillance system and cash were stolen.

Defendant Matthew Braun, of Kindred, North Dakota, entered his pleas in Platte County District to attempted burglary and attempted theft by unlawful taking after reaching a plea agreement with the county attorney’s office.

District Judge Mary Gilbride scheduled Braun for sentencing on June 15.

Braun, who was extradited following his arrest in Kingman, Arizona, earlier this year, was initially charged with burglary and theft-unlawful taking over $5,000, each Class 2A felonies punishable by up to 20 years imprisonment.

The charges the defendant pleaded to are Class 3A felonies, each carrying a maximum penalty of three years in prison, 18 months of post-release supervision and a $10,000 fine.

Court documents described a Columbus Police investigation in which a video surveillance system at next door neighbor Sleep Inn, led to the identification of the suspect in the 23rd Street restaurant and sports bar.

Officer Bradley Wangler reported video from around 4 a.m. that morning revealed a silver Pontiac Grand Prix back up to south side of Sleep Inn, with a “subject struggling to place an item consistent in size with the safe stolen at Maximus into the trunk of the vehicle.”

Other video footage, Wangler said, showed the same subject carrying a dark bag and loading other items into the vehicle. The video also allowed police to trace the room the suspect was sharing with a woman at the motel, he said.

The officer said Braun and the woman checked out of the motel by leaving the keys in the room the day of the burglary.

Wangler reported further review of the video led to the identification of Braun from a booking photo provided by the West Fargo Police Department in North Dakota.

A West Fargo department bulletin reported Braun’s previous mode of operation was to break into bars and restaurants which would have coin-operated machines or ATMs and, once inside, break into cash registers and safes.



Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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