Iowa City shop owner accused of calling customer a terrorist changes plea

Cermak was charged with third-degree harassment, and has bonded out of the Johnson County Jail. (photo courtesy Johnson County Jail)

An Iowa City shop owner accused of harassing a customer by calling him a terrorist and asking if he was wearing a suicide vest has changed his plea to guilty.

Court records say 47-year-old Chad Cermak entered an Alford plea as part of a plea deal on Monday. An Alford plea does not include admitting guilt, but acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence for a conviction.

A criminal complaint says a man went into Cermak Automotive on Jan. 8 for service. During that service, the customer said Cermak made the following remarks to him:

  • "Are you Muslim?"
  • "Are you a terrorist?"
  • "Are you a suicide bomber and are you wearing a bomb vest?
  • "How do you walk down the street without people fearing you?"
  • "Are you going to blow up my place of business?"

The customer told police Cermak kept repeating these comments even after he attempted to end the conversation. Cermak was charged with two counts of third-degree harassment.

As part of the plea deal, Cermak will serve six months probation for one count of third-degree harassment.

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