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Thursday, July 31st, 2008

Three Fort Recovery graduates plead innocent to school vandalism

By Margie Wuebker
Three recent Fort Recovery High School graduates entered not guilty pleas Wednesday morning to charges stemming from a senior prank gone wrong
Members of the trio - Joel B. Weitzel, 18, 2745 Kuhl Road, New Weston, Robert J. Rammel, 19, 1781 state Route 49, Fort Recovery, and Matthew G. Vagedes, 18, 2438 Philothea Road, Fort Recovery, - each face two counts of breaking and entering and three counts of vandalism, all fifth-degree felonies, stemming from a May 17 incident at the high school. Pretrial hearings are set Aug. 27.
They allegedly gained access to a crawl space through an outside entrance and deposited two dead geese there. A hot water line was broken in the process. At least one of the culprits climbed to the roof and allegedly pushed in a window air conditioning unit but apparently did not gain entry, according to Fort Recovery Police Chief Jared Laux.
Clint Tobe, 18, 303 N. Elm St., Fort Recovery, was charged with misdemeanor criminal trespassing after investigators determined he had been on the school property but did not enter the crawl space like the others. He entered a no contest plea last week in Celina Municipal Court and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service in addition to paying court costs.
School officials discovered the prank while investigating the broken water line and contacted authorities. The indictment indicates damages exceeded $500.
The incident apparently occurred Friday night or early Saturday morning preceding graduation. There was no hot water when teachers and students returned to class the following Monday. After maintenance workers pinpointed the problem, high school Principal David Warvel checked surveillance camera footage, which captured images of the young men outside the building.
Each fifth-degree felony charge carries up to 12 months in prison and $2,500 in fines upon conviction. However, school officials reportedly favor community service rather than time behind bars.
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