Tuesday, October 7th, 2008
Fort Recovery graduate to spend 10 days in jail for school vandalism
By Margie Wuebker
An area man appeared in Mercer County Common Pleas Court on Monday afternoon to admit his guilt in connection with a senior prank gone bad at Fort Recovery High School - the second of three young men to do so.
Joel B. Weitzel,
18, 2745 Kuhl Road, New Weston, pleaded guilty to amended charges of attempted breaking and entering and attempted vandalism, both first-degree misdemeanors.
Weitzel entered his plea as part of a negotiated agreement involving dismissal of two counts of vandalism as well as an additional count of breaking and entering. All the charges contained in the five-count indictment were fifth-degree felonies.
Judge Jeffrey Ingraham imposed a 90-day jail sentence and then suspended 80 days on the condition he commits no criminal offenses during the coming year. In the event he does, the suspended days could be reimposed. Weitzel must report to the Mercer County Jail at 9 a.m. Wednesday to begin serving the 10 days.
In addition to a $1,000 fine, the sentence also mandates 100 hours of community service to be performed under the supervision of Fort Recovery Local Schools personnel and up to 12 months community control sanctions. Weitzel will be required to pay his share of $930 restitution.
Co-defendant Matthew G. Vagedes, 18, 2438 Philothea Road, Fort Recovery, received an identical sentence during an Aug. 28 proceeding.
Weitzel declined the opportunity to address the court prior to sentencing but his attorney Dan Myers requested probation only until such time as community service, fine, court costs and restitution are addressed.
"The court understands from a companion case that the actions of you and the others were intended to be a prank," Ingraham said. "There is a difference between a prank and something that rises beyond fun."
The case of co-defendant Robert J. Rammel, 18, 1781 state Route 49, Fort Recovery, remains in negotiation with no plea entered as yet.
Weitzel and the others reportedly gained access to a crawl space through an outside opening beneath a science room on May 17 and deposited two dead geese near ventilation equipment. A hot water line was broken in the process causing the crawl space to flood.
Maintenance personnel discovered the prank while investigating a loss of hot water in that part of the building. School officials subsequently reviewed surveillance camera footage that captured images of the young men outside.
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 recently in Celina Municipal Court and was ordered to complete 40 hours of community service in addition to paying court costs.