Steve’s Pizza burglar gets probation; Still awaiting trial on check forgery charge

Published 8:48 am Friday, September 21, 2018


Brendan Charles Johnson, 35, of Brownsdale was sentenced on Thursday in Mower County District Court to five years of probation for felony third-degree burglary.

Judge Jeffrey Kritzer issued the sentence.

According to court documents, the owner of Steve’s Pizza contacted police on May 21 after discovering the door to his office had been forced open and about $1,200 in office cash and checks had been taken. The employee who closed the night before told police he had placed the money in the office and locked the door before leaving. A blue latex glove was on the floor outside the office and a second glove was found on the floor near an open storage area door. The owner indicated the storage area door was not normally open. The owner suspected the burglar or burglars came through the roof via a ladder in the storage area that led to a roof hatch.

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The owner said he suspected that two previously terminated employees might be responsible, naming Johnson as one of them. The employee that closed the night before told police Johnson had come in the prior evening to pick up an order and was “acting weird.”

On May 25, police arrested Garrett Dean Lukes, 26, of Austin for driving without a valid license in a vehicle that had been rented from Minneapolis by Johnson, court documents state. Inside, police found an altered check originally written to Steve’s Pizza.

A search of the vehicle revealed five more written to Steve’s Pizza dated May 20.

A detective interviewed Lukes, who said that Johnson told him how to burglarize Steve’s Pizza and where the money could be located, court documents state. Lukes said he stole about $1,500 and that Johnson kept the checks so he could alter them. The detective got a search warrant for Lukes’ cell phone, which showed a May 20 conversation between Lukes and Johnson planning the burglary.

Johnson was also sentenced to a consecutive probation term of three years for gross misdemeanor counterfeit currency-utter or possess. He was also sentenced to 59 days in jail for misdemeanor theft, but received credit for 59 days served.

Court documents state Johnson was arrested on June 16 after deputies were called to the Cenex gas station in Brownsdale about a male customer who could not pay for gas and was “causing problems.” The clerk told police that Johnson raised his voice and shouted at her when she told him he needed to contact someone about paying for the gas. When he exited, she locked the door to keep him out. The deputies placed Johnson under arrest and found two counterfeit $100 bills in his wallet. They also found two credit cards belonging to a woman, health insurance cards that belonged to two different women and social security card that belonged to a juvenile male.

Other charges of gross misdemeanor counterfeit currency-utter or possess and misdemeanor theft were dismissed.

Under the terms of his probation, Johnson must perform 40 hours of community service and follow 20 conditions, including not entering Steve’s Pizza or having any contact with the owner or the owner’s immediate family. Failure to follow the conditions could result in 12 months and one day in prison.

Johnson is still awaiting trial for felony check forgery-offer with intent to defraud, to which he has pled not guilty.