Arsonist spared prison, but owes $712,000Published 3:56pm Friday, October 12, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — The other Edwardsburg industrial park arson defendant avoided prison thanks to an unblemished prior record, but Connor Lee faces $712,000 restitution — a record in Prosecutor Victor Fitz’s 29-year career.
Lee, 21, of Dailey Road, Edwardsburg, appeared before Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge Friday morning to face sentencing for “senseless vandalism” he and Adam Sheneman caused on May Street Feb. 15, when they set fire to Midwest Timber.
The Friday before Dodge handed Sheneman, who owns an extensive record of three felonies and 15 misdemeanors, five years in prison.
Lee, credited with 241 days in jail as part of two years probation, May 7 pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burn real property, burning real property and arson greater than $20,000 — all punishable by 10 years in prison — larceny in a building and larceny less than $200.
Fitz called it a “catastrophic” offense for which sentencing guidelines don’t reflect so much damage.
Lee, who apologized, was cooperative with authorities, plus will spend his life satisfying his “stupid lapse,” according to his attorney, Gregory Feldman.
Dodge said each defendant blamed the other, but “you both were involved” and equally responsible.
“I hope you have some appreciation for what you’ve done,” the judge said, since the building could have been occupied or firefighters could have been hurt.
The men poured diesel fuel on the ground and damaged and stole property from nearby businesses during their spree.