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Accused Iowa school thief to stand trial

John Mangalonzo,┬áThe Hawk Eye, Burlington, Iowa –

One of the contractors accused of stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronic equipment from the Mediapolis High School will face a jury.

Jay Wesley Cates, 41, of Cedar Rapids is set to stand trial Feb. 7. A pretrial conference will take place in his case Jan. 23.

He is charged with second-degree theft.

His co-defendant, Daniel Edward Koehler, 43, also of Cedar Rapids, recently pleaded guilty to the same offense. The agreement calls for the attorneys from both sides to recommend he be placed on probation by way of a suspended prison term.

The maximum he could get is five years in the penitentiary.

School officials talked to sheriff’s detectives in August and reported two Toshiba laptop computers worth nearly $1,000 each and a Motorola cable box worth $125 were taken from the campus in July.

Superintendent Greg Ray told authorities two workers from Abatement Specialties of Cedar Rapids, Koehler and Cates, were working on insulation in tunnels under the building.

Investigators said the pair was seen on video surveillance working until 12:20 a.m. July 15.

The footage also caught the men “looking through items that did not belong to them and acting suspiciously.”

Detectives went to Cedar Rapids where Koehler said Cates placed the computers and cable box into insulation while they were working at the school.

Koehler said he loaded a box into the back of their work truck, which the surveillance camera also caught.

Detectives said Koehler claimed Cates told him about the loot once they were inside the truck.

The pair took the items to an apartment the men shared in Cedar Rapids.

Koehler insisted he told Cates, who he believed to have sold the goods, to get rid of the computers.

Koehler is set to be sentenced March 5.

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