New Rockford Transcript - Official Newspaper of Eddy County since 1883

Braun enters guilty pleas for downtown burglaries


December 26, 2022

Matthew Braun

 On Thursday, Dec. 15, Matthew Braun pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a pair of downtown burglaries in New Rockford last summer.

 According to Eddy County State's Attorney, Ashley Lies, a plea agreement was reached between herself and the defense which she believes is beneficial to the community.

 "Both the sheriff's office and I are happy with the resolution that we got," said Lies, "and we think it's a good outcome for the case and should be good for the community."

 Lies added that the terms of the plea agreement, for now, must remain confidential.

 Braun, a construction worker from Kindred, was caught on multiple cameras breaking into Hanson's Bar and the New Rockford Eagles Club, as well as attempting to break into Wonder Lanes Bowling Alley in the early morning hours of Saturday, August 6.

 According to the criminal information filed against Braun, Hanson's Bar and the Eagles Club estimated the total combined losses to be over $18,800, in addition to more than $30,000 in property damage.

 Braun was charged with one count of theft of property and two counts of criminal mischief, each a Class B felony, as well as two counts of burglary and one count of attempted burglary, all Class C felonies.

 "Due to the number of charges against Braun, I had prepared a written statement prior to the hearing to ensure I touched on each element of the crimes," said Lies on what happened at the hearing. "After reading it, the Judge asked Braun if he agreed that the facts as presented were true; he did agree, except he denied that he took $1,500 from the cash register at the Eagles."

 Most of the money Braun stole was from a number of gaming machines inside both locations. Eddy County Sheriff Paul Lies said before Braun was arrested that it appeared whoever stole the money knew what they were doing.

 Indeed, Braun has a lengthy criminal record in both North Dakota and Minnesota, which includes multiple theft charges - a fact which is likely to influence his sentencing.

 Lies told the Transcript on Tuesday that sentencing won't take place for another two or three months, as a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) must take place beforehand.

 "The Judge found there was sufficient factual basis for accepting the Defendant's guilty plea," said Lies. "Normally, we would proceed right to sentencing, but due to certain factors in the case, a Pre-Sentence Investigation ... has to be completed before we can actually proceed to sentencing."

 A PSI is meant to look into the background of a convicted person in order to determine if there are extenuating circumstances that could impact the leniency or severity of a sentence. Other factors that go into sentencing, according to Lies, are criminal history, the defendant's health and age, the severity of the crime, and more.

 "These factors are not controlling, but are ones that I personally consider in making each sentencing recommendation in the cases I prosecute," said Lies.

 The Transcript will publish details of the plea agreement once sentencing takes place.