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Former nude bar bouncer’s gun crime sentence upheld

DES MOINES – A man who worked in a racy nude bar in Nora Springs and was caught with illegal guns and sent to prison has had his sentence upheld.

Charges were brought back in March of 2016 by Nora Springs police against Aron Jon Bierl, now age 31, after his house was raided by police for a second time. Authorities were searching for guns at Bierl’s home at 214 North Gaylord Avenue, and they found enough evidence to bring two felony charges against him. Bierl also lost his job as a bouncer at the Pole Barn Theatre – a nude dance club – when the establishment closed for good that same week week.

According to court documents, local police received a call for a welfare check in March 2016; the caller stated there were young children home alone at Bierl’s house. When the officers arrived at the home, they found the two children and then “cleared” the house for any adults. None were present. The officers noted the presence of a firearm in plain view. Based on this, the officers obtained a warrant to search the home. Upon its execution, the officers discovered a second firearm and a large amount of ammunition. At the time, Bierl was subject to two protective orders—one for his former wife and one for a former girlfriend. As a result, he was charged with two counts of possession of a firearm by a domestic violence offender in April.

In November, pursuant to a plea agreement with the State, Bierl pled guilty to one of the counts and the other was dismissed. Additionally, the State agreed not to make any recommendation at sentencing, and Bierl was free to advocate for a deferred judgment.

Bierl was sentenced in February 2017. At the sentencing hearing, Bierl asked the court to defer judgment and place him on probation. He stated that he is an avid hunter and would like to get his gun rights back. He also stated he had completed intensive outpatient treatment for alcohol abuse and was attending mental-health treatment and taking his prescribed medications. The court noted Bierl had been convicted of harassment and had a third protective order entered against him since the date of the possession charge.

The court stated it would be adopting the recommendations of the report from the presentence investigation (PSI) and sentenced Bierl to a term of incarceration not to exceed five years. The court noted:

They do give you credit in the presentence investigation report for being involved in mental health and substance abuse treatment and being dedicated to that.

And, frankly, I’m—I’m not focusing a lot on necessarily what came out of the divorce decree, but I’m looking at, instead, the nature of the offense. And I perceive it as sort of an inability to take responsibility for your actions and, instead, kind of take what you did and—and blame it towards wife, girlfriend, other people involved in your life. And it’s unfortunate.

And it’s unfortunate you picked up a harassment charge following this offense date. And, again, somehow that seemed to be somebody else’s fault.

So I’m looking at your age. I’m looking at your record of convictions. I’m looking at your employment circumstances, the nature of the offense, whether a weapon was involved. And, obviously, it was. Your financial circumstances and the need to protect the community.

For all those reasons, I’m going to adopt the presentence investigation report recommendations. What that means to you is you’re going to be sentenced to five years to the custody of the Director of the Department of Corrections. That term of imprisonment is not suspended.

Bierl appealed his sentence following a guilty plea to possession of a firearm by a domestic violence offender. Bierl maintains the district court abused its discretion when it imposed his sentence; he claims the court improperly focused on one factor and failed to consider any of the mitigating factors in his favor. However, because the court considered the appropriate factors before reaching its sentencing decision, the court of appeals affirmed Bierl’s sentence.

Aron Bierl
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