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Prophetstown fire victims to receive restitution

Payments from boys must start in October

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014 10:04 a.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/pmarruffo@saukvalley.com)
Dolores Francis share an embrace with Prophetstown firefighter Jamie Melton on July 15 during the anniversary of the downtown fire that ripped through eight buildings. Francis presented Melton and fellow firefighters Phillip Garrison and Joe Froeliger with plaques and hugs, thanking them for saving her life during the fire.

STERLING – Two half-brothers who caused the fire that burned down much of downtown Prophetstown last summer were ordered Tuesday to pay $2,350 in restitution.

The boys, now 13 and 17, will begin payments in October of $10 a month and $25 a month, respectively, Whiteside County Court Judge Bill McNeal ruled.

Of the total, $1,100 will be paid to Dolores Francis, $1,000 to Kenneth and Mary Stegmiller, and $250 to Susan Nelson, all of whom lost property in the blaze.

Also Tuesday, Shirley Ott, who lost her business, truck, and apartment in the fire on July 15, 2013, asked for $100,000 in restitution. She estimated that the true financial cost of her loss was about $2 million, although she said she never had anything appraised.

When defense attorney Mark Holldorf asked Ott, now of Erie, how much she had paid for the building that housed her business and apartment, she said they cost $35,000 35 years ago, but prices inflate.

McNeal decided to delay the matter of her restitution until her insurance company finishes with its payments; she already has received $116,000.

The boys’ next court hearing is June 9, 2015.

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