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Saturday, January 9th, 2010

Man charged with arson now also faces intimidation count

By Margie Wuebker
A 33-year-old Celina man, who allegedly considers himself a role model for juveniles, faces a new charge stemming from actions in connection with a pending case in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Steven D. Smith II appeared before Judge Jeffrey Ingraham on Wednesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to intimidation of a witness. A Mercer County grand jury returned the single-count indictment on Dec. 17.
Smith, who remains incarcerated in the Mercer County Jail on a $75,000 cash bond, also faces multiple counts of arson, vandalism and contributing to the delinquency of a minor stemming from a series of dumpster fires in Celina between Sept. 26 and Oct. 12.
He pleaded not guilty to those charges during a Dec. 16 arraignment hearing.
Ingraham set Jan. 20 as the date for pretrial hearings in both cases.
Smith was taken into custody in early October when a Celina Police officer on targeted patrol spotted him and an 11-year-old boy at a dumpster outside Little Flower Learning Center on Touvelle Street.
Chief Dave Slusser told The Daily Standard the youth was inside the large dumpster allegedly attempting to start a trash fire with a lighter while Smith issued instructions. Responding officers found a smouldering fire at the scene.
This was the second dumpster fire of the night with the first being spotted on Hierholzer Street. The two males, who are not related, have been linked to that blaze as well, according to Slusser. Smith reportedly commented on being a role model during interrogation at the police department.
Investigators learned of the alleged intimidation during Smith's incarceration in the first case.
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