June 3, 2023


Automotive to Us

EC man gets probation for stealing vehicles to support meth habit

Jan. 22—EAU CLAIRE — An Eau Claire man will spend three years on probation for stealing a motorcycle and two mopeds to support his methamphetamine habit.

Brandon L. Podhaski, 34, 726 Spring St., pleaded no contest Friday in Eau Claire County Court to felony counts of taking and driving a vehicle without consent, theft and bail jumping.

Two additional felony counts of bail jumping and misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and theft were dismissed but considered by Judge Michael Schumacher at sentencing.

As conditions of probation, Schumacher ordered Podhaski to pay $921 in restitution, successfully complete Mental Health Court and undergo any recommended programming or treatment.

Podhaski also cannot have any contact with the victims or any known drug dealers or users.

According to the criminal complaint:

On Sept. 15, 2020, Eau Claire police were sent to a residence in the 1300 block of Woodland Avenue concerning a stolen moped.

The owner said the moped was parked behind his residence and he did not have any specific suspects.

Two days later, the moped was found near an Eau Claire business. It was being driven by Podhaski and he was stopped by police at the intersection of Patton Street and East Tyler Avenue.

Podhaski said he was test-driving the moped for another person. The other person said he had bought the moped from Podhaski.

On Nov. 9, 2020, a motorcycle was stolen from outside a garage at a residence in the 300 block of Hudson Street.

The owner provided video evidence of the theft to police. The video showed a man scoping out the motorcycle on two occasions on Nov. 7, 2020. He came back a third time and left with the motorcycle.

Police identified the suspect as Podhaski.

The motorcycle was later found parked outside an Eau Claire church. Podhaski’s father is a maintenance person at the church and he identified his son as the person from the video.

Police drove past Podhaski’s residence on Feb. 10, 2021, knowing he was the suspect in several theft cases. An officer found a red moped parked in front of the garage. The officer found the moped was registered to a man who lives in the 400 block of Marston Avenue.

The officer contacted the man, who hadn’t realized his moped was missing from his back porch. He believes the moped had been gone for about two weeks.

Podhaski was arrested and taken to the Eau Claire County Jail. Podhaski confirmed he was struggling with methamphetamine addiction. He said he had stolen money and items from people to get his fix.