Corso mascot head thief avoids jail

2011-03-09T04:30:00Z 2011-03-09T14:38:58Z Corso mascot head thief avoids jailGazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times
March 09, 2011 4:30 am  • 

One of the two men charged with stealing the mascot head of ESPN's commentator Lee Corso during the Civil War football game in Corvallis entered into a diversion program Monday

August Michael Zane Cuneo, 26, of Eugene, pleaded guilty to second-degree theft and entered into a four-month diversion program. It stipulates that Cuneo must complete 40 hours of community service, and write a letter of apology to ESPN and to Senior Trooper Orly Johnson of the Oregon State Police.

Cuneo and Alexander Joseph Westerberg, 25, of Harrisburg, stole the 3-foot-tall mascot head on Dec. 4 from the Oregon State University Memorial Union Quad near the ESPN Game Day broadcast location. The Beavers were set to play the Oregon Ducks in the 114th meeting of the annual rivalry. It drew national media attention because if the undefeated Ducks won, they would go on to play for the national college football championship. (They did, but the Ducks lost the Jan. 10 game, 22-19, to Auburn.)

Cuneo took the head, hiding it in some bushes until Westerberg arrived in a car. The two then drove to Eugene. Apparently upon further reflection, the mascot head was dropped off two days later near an OSU employee's car in Harrisburg.

Westerberg is scheduled to appear in court March 22, also to enter diversion.

"ESPN was consulted, and we confirmed that they did not wish to be a victim," Deputy District Attorney Chris Stringer said. "Our office utilized our discretion in deciding what to formally charge and what to offer. In this case, considering the wishes of the victim and the circumstances of the case, and the fact that the property was returned, we felt a DA Diversion a just resolution."

Stringer said Sr. Trooper Johnson was included in the apology because Cuneo made statements to the press that the allegations against him all were false.

"Since the allegations stemmed from a police report, it seemed appropriate to apologize to the investigating trooper," Stringer said. "We are glad that Mr. Cuneo took responsibility for all his actions."

Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams signed the diversion contract.

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