Champion pleads guilty to felony theft

CLINTON — The State of Iowa will recommend a suspended sentence for a Clinton man who pleaded guilty to felony theft.

Chester A. Champion, 49, 545 Fourth Ave. South, appeared Thursday in Clinton County District Court and pleaded guilty to second-degree theft, a Class D felony. The plea agreement says the State will recommend a suspended sentence. The court is bound to impose a suspended sentence or to defer judgement.

According to the affidavit, an officer on April 21 was conducting a followup in reference to ongoing surveillance. The officer during the followup noticed the central air conditioning unit for the property had been removed. The officer spoke with the property owner, who confirmed the central air unit was stolen. The officer obtained surveillance recordings from the area the air conditioning unit was stolen from. The officer sent out an email containing images of the suspects.

The affidavit states an officer conducted a followup April 21. The office manager of the scrap yard told the officer a person was trying to sell cut-apart central air components. The officer identified Champion as the person in possession of the central air components. Champion had in his possession gloves that were similar to the person in the surveillance recordings. The clothing and boots he was wearing were consistent with the surveillance recordings. Champion had longer facial hair, which was seen on the recordings. Champion was transported to the Clinton Police Department.

The affidavit states Champion admitted he was in the photos that an officer showed him. Champion admitted to picking up scrap copper tubing near the air conditioner. He denied stealing the air conditioner. He said the air conditioner components he was selling were found in a dumpster in the city of Clinton. The property owner estimated the cost to replace the stolen air conditioner was more than $1,000 but less than $10,000. The staff at the scrap yard identified the amount of scrap pieces Champion was trying to sell to be consistent with the large central air conditioner.