Portage man accused of stealing from Cottonwood bar

December 25, 2018

Police have charged a 60-year-old Portage man with felony burglary after he allegedly took money from the Cottonwood Bar and Grill during his overnight cleaning shift.

Robbin D. Birckett made his initial appearance Tuesday in Columbia County Circuit Court on the felony charge, also facing a misdemeanor charge of criminal damage to property.

According to the criminal complaint, a Portage police officer responded to a burglary report Dec. 11 at the Cottonwood, where he met with the bar’s owner and a daytime cleaning employee. The owner told police he had arrived that morning and found the cleaning supplies were left out and that Birckett’s overnight cleaning duties were incomplete, including a bucket of water still warm to the touch. Birckett was not at the business when the owner arrived.

The office door in the bar’s basement had been broken into — its brass handle in pieces and the door frame was also damaged, the complaint states. The daytime employee requested a welfare check for Birckett since Birckett had previously needed to leave work early for medical issues.

Birckett told police during the welfare check that he had been “drunk and stupid” and that he got “fed up and walked out of the bar” in the middle of his shift after he broke down the office door, according to the complaint. Birckett allegedly told police he took $120 from the office.

Birckett faces a maximum prison sentence of 12 years and a maximum fine of $25,000 if convicted of the felony burglary charge. He has a pretrial conference set for Jan. 18.

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