Des Moines bar owner Steve McFadden apologized at his sentencing Monday for using a GPS tracking device to track a woman he loved and wanted to marry and told a judge he recognized that this is selfish and wrong.
“First of all, I want to apologize to her,” he said.
District Associate Judge Brendan Greiner gave McFadden a suspended sentence as part of an agreement between the Polk County Attorney’s Office and McFadden’s attorneys.
He received a suspended sentence of one year in prison on stalking charges related to unauthorized use and placement of a GPS tracking device and 30 days on third-degree harassment charges.
More:Des Moines bar owners Steve McFadden, Edwin Allen III plead guilty to GPS stalking charges
McFadden could face up to 180 days in prison if he violates the terms of his year-long probation, which includes attending a seven-week one-on-one class on “deliberate living” offered by the Iowa Department of Corrections. An injunction is valid for five years.
The harassment allegations against McFadden, an owner of Tipsy Crow and Grumpy Goat bars and Dough Mama’s Pizzeria, involved the same woman. He previously admitted in court that he called her after their split and made comments that he described as “annoying”.
McFadden, 53, has another hearing Friday in another case involving an ex-girlfriend. In this case, he and Victoria Davis violated a no-contact order he initiated after the two traveled to Florida together over the New Year’s vacation.
McFadden received a deferred judgment in a previous 2022 assault case involving Davis, a former waitress at one of his bars who he dated for years.
In January 2022, McFadden struck a plea deal in that felony case that allowed him to be convicted of causing bodily harm. He was accused of beating and injuring Davis so severely that she lost consciousness.
More:Woman allegedly beaten by bar owner describes going back to him, says it was a mistake
On Monday afternoon, McFadden’s friend Edwin Allen III, owner of Zora Bar and Rooftop, was also convicted in connection with the stalking case, which he pleaded reduced in a settlement with prosecutors that also included another pending harassment case .
In the stalking case, Allen was accused of following McFadden’s ex-girlfriend to Paws and Pints, a dog park on the west side of Des Moines, while McFadden was in Florida. Allen received a misdemeanor conviction.
He also pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in an unrelated count of harassment for using abusive and threatening language towards the children of a tenant in a rental property he owns.
A previous plea agreement was jeopardized after Des Moines police subpoenaed Allen for serving underage women in Zora while awaiting sentencing.
But Allen’s attorney, Nick Sarcone, said his client had no criminal record, he volunteered to be treasurer for the Food Bank of Iowa and Habitat for Humanity, and a new pleading was in order because Allen’s current cases “have lapsed into the ordinary.” for him.
Sarcone said Allen plans to move to Florida to move on with his life after the cases are closed.
However, Judge Greiner said he was troubled by what Allen did to McFadden’s victims by helping and supporting him.
“I think you can understand why the victim was bothered by what you did — and you told me what you did,” Greiner said.
Greiner also said during the sentencing hearing that he had heard Allen make offensive comments about ethnic minorities during a previous court hearing and “it bothered me a lot.” Given the facts and circumstances of the harassment case, Greiner said he didn’t think a fine alone was appropriate.
He sentenced Allen to 30 days probation and one year probation in both cases. He also ordered Allen to attend an offensive behavior class and undergo a substance abuse assessment. In addition, the judge barred Allen from parole early and ordered him to pay a $605 fine in both counts.
If Allen violates his probation conditions, he faces a maximum of 180 days in prison.
Polk County Prosecutor Kimberly Graham said the victim’s interests were considered in both McFadden’s and Allen’s plea agreements. “It is crucial that we listen to the victims as we negotiate the outcome of the case,” she said in a press release.
“In the case of McFadden, our office has refused to agree to a deferred judgment. We also insisted that he admit his guilt in the placement and use of the GPS device, rather than entering an Alford plea, where he would admit no guilt but still accept the plea agreement. He will now have a criminal record. It is critical that this result extends the contactless order by five years,” Graham said in the release.
“This case shows what modern stalking looks like in the technological age and we encourage other victims to come forward. We will continue to fight for survivors of domestic violence and intimate partner abuse and for efforts to strengthen Iowa’s laws in this area. Under current law, we cannot charge defendants for every instance in which they track a victim with a GPS device.”
Graham said she was pleased that the Iowa Senate and House of Representatives passed Senate Act 84, which includes increased penalties for stalking while using a technological device. “I also support House File 112, which allows prosecutors to look back more than 12 years when determining whether a domestic violence arrest is a second offense or an additional offense,” she said in the release.
Allen, who is also a landlord, is still facing a civil lawsuit filed in February by a former tenant who said he demanded sex for a break from her rent.
Last week he was sued in civil court by a former Zora employee who alleges he discriminated against her because she is black and that his vision for Zora is to have white servers and customers.
Lee Rood’s Reader’s Watchdog column helps Iowans get answers and accountability from officials, the justice system, businesses, and nonprofits. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org, at 515-284-8549, on Twitter at @leerood, or on Facebook at Facebook.com/readerswatchdog.