One year and two days after being crowned a national champion, former UW Oshkosh men’s basketball player Connor Duax was charged with two counts of theft for stealing and reselling merchandise from the university bookstore.
In May and December 2019, Duax allegedly stole books from University Books & More and sold them back during textbook buyback for $2,053.75, according to the March 18 criminal complaint.
Duax, 21, was a key player down the stretch during UWO’s championship run, averaging 15.5 points per game over the final six games — including the March 16, 2019 national title game against Swarthmore College.
He was dismissed from the basketball team after starting eight games in the beginning of the year, and, according to UWO Director of Marketing and Communications Peggy Breister, he is no longer enrolled at UWO.
If convicted, Duax could face nine months in prison and fines up to $10,000 for each misdemeanor count. However, on May 18, Duax and Winnebago County signed a Deferred Adjudication Agreement that will avoid taking the case to trial. Under the agreement, Duax must plead no contest or guilty to both counts of theft.
Additionally, for nine months he must not engage in criminal conduct, pay a total of $8,876.53 in restitution fees, provide proof of full-time employment each month, write a letter of apology and have no contact with UWO or the university bookstore.
The charges will be dismissed if Duax complies with the conditions of the agreement, but if he fails to do so, the agreement will be terminated and he will be brought before the court for sentencing.
According to court documents:
On Dec. 10, 2019, UWO Police Department Detective Mike Bartlein was informed of “suspicious activity occurring at the end of the semester book buy-back event” by Kathleen K. Kaltenbach, the manager of the UWO bookstore.
Kaltenbach told Bartlein that Duax had sold multiple copies of the same book and books from classes he wasn’t enrolled in.
Kaltenbach and bookstore staff member Nikki Stoll provided Bartlein with a printout of all the books that Duax sold during textbook buyback, which included 23 books for $799.
Of the 23 books, four were duplicates and most were for classes Duax wasn’t in, including an interim class that hadn’t been offered yet.
Additionally, the bookstore found that Duax only purchased one book from the bookstore during the Fall 2019 semester.
Bartlein received documents from the May 2019 textbook buyback, which showed that Duax had sold 26 books for $1,254.
In reviewing the books sold in May, Bartlein found that the books sold did not match any of the classes Duax had enrolled in.
Kaltenbach told Bartlein that an audit of the books Duax sold during the textbook buyback corresponded to an inventory shortage at the UWO bookstore.
Afterward, Kaltenbach provided Bartlein with a record of Duax’s Spring and Fall 2018 textbook buyback transactions, “which raised similar concerns.”
On Dec. 11, 2019, Bartlein met with Duax at the UWOPD headquarters. During the meeting, Bartlein told Duax that he knew about the books returned during the December buyback.
He asked Duax if he had sold all of the books in his possession. Duax replied that he returned the books for someone else and did not have any more books.
Bartlein asked Duax why he was selling stolen books to the bookstore. Duax said he met someone named “Jacob” his freshman year and that “Jacob” runs a scheme where he receives stolen books and has students sell them back for him.
Duax told Bartlein that after he sold the books “Jacob” paid him $50. In addition, Duax said he thought “Jacob’s” last name started with an “L,” and that he usually communicated with “Jacob” via text messages.
When Bartlein asked to see the text messages, Duax replied that “Jacob” makes him erase the messages.
Bartlein then asked if video footage from the bookstore would show Duax stealing books, to which Duax admitted to stealing fewer than 10 books two to three times.
Duax told Bartlein that he stole one book two to three times in May 2019, and two to three times in December 2019, adding the remaining books came from “Jacob.”
After meeting with Duax, Bartlein worked to trace the phone number that Duax had given him for “Jacob.”
Bartlein found that the number belonged to a Jacob in Duax’s hometown, who had never been enrolled at UWO.
That same night, Bartlein emailed Duax his findings and Duax admitted that he lied about “Jacob.”
Then, on Jan. 13, 2020, the bookstore told UWOPD Officer Ashley Fick that they had received a call from an anonymous male who said he found two bags of books.
Fick called the male back, and the male said he had given the books to a man from his church named “Justin.”
Fick and Sgt. Chance Duenkel eventually met with “Justin” and received the books. After reviewing the two bags of books, Fick found a piece of paper in a textbook about Charles Darwin.
The paper was an assignment, and it had the name “Connor” written across the top, along with names of known associates of Duax.
Fick then confirmed that Duax had been enrolled in the class that required the Darwin book, before receiving confirmation from the bookstore that Duax had not purchased the book.
UW Oshkosh declined to comment on the case.
Editor’s Note: Additional reporting provided by Neal Hogden