Burglar saves years with second trip through court

Man guilty of Subway break-ins resentenced after successful appeal
By 
BILL SCHANEN IV
Ozaukee Press staff

Brook E. Grzelak’s first time through the Ozaukee County court system didn’t go well for him.

In May 2013, a jury convicted the-now 57-year-old man, who lived in Allouez before being sentenced to a Michigan prison, of three felony counts of burglary and four related misdemeanors for breaking into Subway restaurants in Saukville and Belgium in late 2012.

Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams sentenced Grzelak to 14 years in prison followed by six years of extended supervision. Williams ordered that the sentence be consecutive to one he was serving in Michigan, which meant that he would have to complete one sentence before serving the other. 

But Grzelak, who was at odds with the first attorney appointed to represented him and asked Williams in vain to be allowed to represent himself, appealed his case to the District 2 Court of Appeals. In May 2017, the appeals court ruled Grzelak was denied his constitutional right to defend himself and reversed his conviction.

Grzelak’s case was sent back to the Ozaukee County court system, and this time he fared much better.

Earlier this month, Grzelak, who appeared via video from Carson City Correctional Facility, accepted the deal he was offered by prosecutors before his 2013 trial and pleaded guilty to one count of burglary. The remaining six charges against him were dismissed but read into the record, which means that Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Joseph Voiland could consider them when sentencing Grzelak.

Following the terms of the plea agreement, Voiland sentenced Grzelak to four years in prison followed by two years of extended supervision. The judge made the sentence concurrent to the one Grzelak is serving in Michigan, which means he can serve them at the same time.

Voiland ordered Grzelak not to have contact with any Subway restaurant or business in Ozaukee County while on extended supervision. The judge also prohibited him from having contact with gambling establishments and to pay $500 in restitution to the man who owned the Subway in Belgium at the time.

Grzelak, who has represented himself since his appeal, told Voiland during the Aug. 16 hearing that he burglarized businesses and stole money to fuel his gambling addiction. 

“I hung around with four very attractive female gamblers,” who he frequently “bailed out,” Grzelak said.

The Michigan prison sentence and a cancer diagnosis has changed his outlook on life, he said.

“When I got hit by cancer, I realized my future is probably not that long,” Grzelak said. “If I die in prison, I die in prison. But I hope I get out so I can make amends with some people because I definitely have to make amends.”

Grzelak’s string of burglaries — at one time he told authorities he would confess to 25 — was uncovered in late 2012 after the Subway break-ins in Ozaukee County.

Both the Saukville and Belgium restaurants were broken into either late Nov. 16 or early Nov. 17, 2012, and surveillance videos from both Subways showed similar crimes — a man wearing a black ski mask, jacket and pants and light-colored tennis shoes used a grinder to cut holes in safes.             The owner of the Belgium restaurant reported $500 was missing from his safe.

The Saukville Subway was broken into again on Dec. 13. The safe, which still had holes in it from the first burglary, was moved but did not contain any money.

Officers from the Saukville Police Department and Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office discovered that the circumstances of the Ozaukee County burglaries matched those of     other Subway break-ins elsewhere in Wisconsin and Escanaba, Mich.

Grzelak, whose van was seen near the site of a burglary in Escanaba, was arrested by the Ashwaubenon Public Safety Department on Dec. 18, 2012. He was wearing a coat and tennis shoes that matched the ones seen in the surveillance videos. Officers found several grinders with metal-cutting wheels in his van.

When confronted by authorities, Grzelak admitted he had a gambling problem and said he would confess to 25 burglaries “if he knew what kind of time (in prison) he was looking at,” according to the criminal complaint.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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