Man pleads not guilty to stealing giant American flag

Posted: Updated:
PEARL RIVER -

A man in the country on a work visa from South Africa faced a judge this morning after police say he stole an American flag from a popular bar in Rockland County.

Brandon Gartrell, 20, of New Jersey, pleaded not guilty at Orangetown Town Court to charges that he took the huge flag from the Brew House in Pearl River on July 22.

Police say the theft was caught on surveillance video.

Today, the judge lowered the charge from petty larceny to disorderly conduct and is also recommending community service.

Despite pleading not guilty, Gartrell admits he was intoxicated when the incident occurred. " I am very sorry. It was never my intention to disrespect the country, the institution. It was a complete mistake; I was very drunk and not myself. I wasn't thinking straight."

Gartrell says he plans to return to South Africa in October. He's due back in court August 15. 

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