Halgren charged with arson
ROCK FALLS – A longtime Rock Falls scofflaw jailed on gun charges in DeKalb now also is charged with arson in a suspicious fire that damaged the home the city finally took from him.
A $100,000 arrest warrant was issued for Ronald Halgren, accusing him of arson to a residence, punishable by 4 to 15 years in prison.
Halgren, in DeKalb County Jail on the unrelated charges, likely will be brought to Whiteside County after his DeKalb case is resolved, Rock Falls Police Chief Mike Kuelper said Tuesday.
He declined to comment on the particulars of the fire, citing the ongoing investigation.
It started in the basement at 812 Ave. A around 7:49 a.m. July 16 and damaged the back of the first and second floors. No one was home at the time, but neighbors told police they saw Halgren there earlier that morning.
The state fire marshal ruled the fire arson.
Halgren, 70, has battled the city for years over his refusal to remain connected to city utilities and to keep his yard free of refuse, as required by city code.
The house was condemned in 2005 and again in 2009.
In August 2011, the city moved to foreclose on the house, then bought it at public auction in December for $29,500, presumably to recoup money Halgren owes for back taxes, fines, and court fees.
Halgren was paid $15,000 of that for a homestead exemption.
On July 13, he was given 3 days to leave the home, which was to be boarded up around 8 a.m. the day of the fire. Later that night, he was arrested during a traffic stop in Sycamore. Officers said they found a rifle, pistol, and ammunition in his car.
He remains in DeKalb County Jail on $5,000 bond, charged with two counts of unlawful use of weapons and possession of weapons without a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card, a misdemeanor.
He has a status hearing Sept. 18 in that case.