Restitution set for two boys who admitted setting Villa Grove building on fire

Restitution set for two boys who admitted setting Villa Grove building on fire

TUSCOLA — Two boys who admitted setting a fire that destroyed a century-old building in downtown Villa Grove are responsible for paying more than $126,000 in restitution to the owners of the building.

On Wednesday afternoon, Douglas County Judge Mike Carroll ordered the two Villa Grove boys, one 14 years old and the other 9, to pay a total of $126,076 in restitution following the Aug. 10 fire that destroyed a building at 10-12 S. Main St. and damaged structures on either side.

"They both owe the whole amount," said Douglas County States Attorney Kevin Nolan. "At this point, they each owe half. But should one of the parties die, the other party would be responsible to pay the entire amount."

No one was injured in the fire at the abandoned building, half of which was owned by Jerry Clodfelder of Camargo and the other half by Hong Zhang of China.

The 14-year-old boy pleaded guilty to arson in September and was sentenced to 30 days' detention (the maximum allowed), three years of probation, 100 hours of public service and to have no contact with the other boy who helped him set the building on fire.

He was also ordered to submit to a psychological evaluation and treatment, including residential treatment for behavioral issues if that is recommended.

The 9-year-old boy pleaded guilty to arson in November, was sentenced to two years of probation and was ordered to perform 50 hours of public service. He's too young to be jailed, according to state law.

He was also ordered to get a psychological evaluation and treatment if needed and to stay away from the other boy.

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areader wrote on December 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Good!  This punishment seems fair for what they did!  And hopefully this is a lesson to any others who may think committing a similar offense is something they can get away with!  

wayward wrote on December 14, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Not sure whether there will be any problems collecting the debt, though.  Apparently restitution someone has been ordered to pay as a juvenile can be discharged through bankruptcy,

freedom2010 wrote on December 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm

Ya, ruin these young boys financial lives before they even get started... Why not give them

10,000 hours public service work? Seems wrong to me

tigersy2k3 wrote on December 15, 2011 at 9:12 am

who do you suggest pay the owners of the building. Being arson, insurance probably isnt going to pay.  I dont think the owners of the building will get their assets back through 10,000 hours community service.  It seems like it is a bad day to be these parents children too, Im sure a lawsuit is in the works. As well if you are buring down buildings at 9 and 14, I am not sure if "having a financial future" is too much of a concern for you at this point in life

peabody wrote on December 15, 2011 at 3:12 pm

The primary concern of the criminal court should be punishing the boys appropriately, not helping the victims rebuild their building. If the owners had insurance it should cover arson (the only reason it wouldn't is if owners set the fire). The owners can take it up in civil court if they want the boys to pay them back for the building. In my opinion the judge was wrong-headed about this. His job was to try to make sure the boys didn't commit any more crime. If they're at all like other young boys I know a few weeks in the slammer and a much more modest fine would have done the job without saddling them with a lifetime of debt. They need to reset their bearings, but they are just kids.   

Uh huh wrote on December 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Perhaps maybe they will learn the value of a dollar.  They just might learn to repsect other people's property in the process.

bluegrass wrote on December 14, 2011 at 9:12 pm

I does seem like a lot of money...  

Chambanian wrote on December 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm

IANAL, but maybe there's a legal reason to order the payment (such as required for an insurance payout or something). 

Otherwise seems pretty stupid. Just means they both have file for bankruptcy when (if not before?) they turn 18. If the owners didn't have insurance (or insurance that didn't cover arson by people who couldn't pay up) that was even stupider.

Mike wrote on December 15, 2011 at 10:12 am

How do you expect two children to pay back $126,000? And why such a huge amount?

The building in question wasn't worth $50,000. I believe one of the owners (Jerry) said that the whole reason he didn't have insurance was because the building wasn't worth anything. So where does the $126,000 come from? If anything, they should be paying the fire department(s) for their labor, etc.

Yeah, here:

"'I would say with my stuff that was in there and the building, it's probably worth $50,000 or less,' Clodfelder said."

I get it that they did a bad thing, but a six-figure restitution --seriously? And I love the part where Nolan says "Well, and if one of them dies..." Really? 

akeith13 wrote on December 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

Please take into consideration the amount of money it takes for debris removal. They charge per pound and since these buildings were made of bricks... My estimate is that it would cost at least 35,000 just to move the debris out of there. Supposedly, there is no insurance on either of these properties so who gets to pick up the bill--more than likely the City of Villa Grove. Also, Mr. Clodfelder is looking at the Market Value of his property and not the cost to rebuild--these are two seperate things. Actually, these kids are getting a heck of a deal because there is no way that these buildings can be rebuilt and the debris be removed for this amount. Also there were at least three other buildings that had fire damage that could seek subrogation. The reality is that these kids will be ordered to pay $10 a month until it is paid, but no one will ever see the full amount...

killerut wrote on December 15, 2011 at 10:12 am

These kids are going to learn a very hard lesson early in life.  

e-man wrote on December 18, 2011 at 9:12 am
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what do you expect its villa grove.