Ty Gregorak: Former CU Buff wrongly accused of theft no longer Shmuck of the Week

Back in May, we named former CU Buff and assistant UNLV football coach Ty Gregorak a Shmuck of the Week for allegedly breaking Strip Club Rule No. 1: "Never, under any circumstances, break into the car of the club's bouncer, steal his wallet and handgun from the car, and then admit to the crime a day later."

Now, charges have been dropped against Gregorak, and the details coming out have convinced us to, for the first time ever, de-Shmuckify a previous Shmuck awardee.

The reason why should be clear from the following release from David Beller, Gregorak's attorney:

Charges Dismissed Against Former CU Football Player and UNLV Assistant Coach

This morning, the Boulder County District Attorney dismissed criminal charges against former University of Colorado football player, University of Montana and University of Nevada Las Vegas assistant football coach Ty Gregorak.

Mr. Gregorak was charged with vehicular trespassing and theft after returning a gun, sunglasses, wallet, bottle of cologne and other items he discovered in his hotel room after an evening spent in Boulder with friends, most of whom are former CU football players. Joseph Benedetto, a bouncer at strip club "Club Nitro" reported the items stolen after discovering his car had been broken into in the early morning hours of April 30, 2010. Mr. Benedetto reported to police that he had recognized Mr. Gregorak as the same man he allegedly refused entry to at the strip club on the prior night. That encounter was captured on videotape and wildly reported in the media.

Police Detective E.F. Euler requested a warrant for Mr. Gregorak's arrest based only upon the statement of Mr. Benedetto and a brief conversation with Mr. Gregorak where he maintained that he must have been drugged and had no knowledge of how the items got into the hotel room he rented the previous night. Boulder Police issued a statement calling the contact outside Club Nitro a confrontation and unequivocally identifying that individual as Mr. Gregorak. In fact, the video proves that the individual contacted outside the club was not Mr. Gregorak and further, Mr. Benedetto's description of Mr. Gregorak did not fit that of the man captured on camera. There is no indication Detective Euler or the police spokesman ever reviewed the videotape prior to requesting a warrant or issuing this damaging statement. Further, absolutely no additional investigation was conducted whatsoever prior to or after Boulder Police making this arrest.

Defense investigation established that the parking garage attendant, stationed just feet from Mr. Benedetto's car, did not observe anyone breaking into the car; hotel staff did not observe a gun or any of the other items on Mr. Gregorak that evening; the dozen friends of Mr. Gregorak all provided statements to defense investigators that they also did not see the items and that Mr. Gregorak was not intoxicated during the time he was with them. Four fingerprints were lifted from the car. Two were insufficient quality for comparison, one was not Mr. Gregorak's, and the fourth was not of sufficient quality to include or exclude Mr. Gregorak. Boulder Police did not attempt to obtain fingerprints from any of the recovered items.

This is another classic example of the Boulder Police Department jumping to conclusions simply to classify a case as closed. The actual investigation in Boulder cases must be completed by the accused. At some point, concern of innocence must prevail over a quick "investigation."

Before charges were filed, before any facts were known, and before given an opportunity to defend himself, UNLV reacted and failed to support Mr. Gregorak. It is ironic that UNLV could not extend a short amount of time for due process when they charge their law students thousands to learn this simple legal right. Before ever attending a court appearance, Mr. Gregorak was informed that UNLV would not renew his contract.

We are relieved and grateful that District Attorney Amy Okubo dismissed this case. Justice, though delayed, has prevailed. She is to be applauded for evaluating this case in a reasonable and fair manner and concluding that the charges should be dismissed.

We are hopeful that the media will now champion this dismissal and investigate other premature charges filed by detectives who fail to conduct fair and thorough investigations.

Tyler Gregorak Issued the Following Statement:

I am grateful that this whole ordeal is finally over. Perhaps someday I will learn what happened to me that night, but as of know, I still do not know. My story has always been consistent and has never changed. This has been a nightmare for me and my family. I have been overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received from former and current players, University of Montana coaches, coaching staff, parents, and everyone in the Montana community. I look forward to getting back to coaching and putting this behind me.

Much of the language in this release suggests the possibility of a lawsuit on Gregorak's behalf against either authorities in Boulder or UNLV. We've placed a call to attorney Beller to inquire if anything like that's in the works. We'll share his thoughts in The Latest Word if and when he responds.

Until then, Mr. Gregorak, you are a Shmuck no longer.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts