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Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

Man pleads not guilty to arson fire

By Margie Wuebker
A former Montezuma resident faces charges in Mercer County Common Pleas Court related to a mobile home fire he allegedly caused in January 2010.
Frederick L. Hale Jr., 42, formerly of 6953 state Route 219, Lot 32, has pleaded not guilty to the charges stemming from an investigation by the Ohio Fire Marshal's Office.
Hale remains incarcerated at the Mercer County Adult Detention Facility on a $75,000 cash bond pending a Wednesday pretrial hearing.
A Mercer County grand jury handed down the two-count indictment in the case Nov. 18. The aggravated arson charge, a second-degree felony, alleges he did by means of fire or explosion cause physical harm to the mobile home. The arson charge, a fourth-degree felony, alleges he created substantial risk to his property with the purpose to defraud.
Montezuma firefighters responded to the address at 8:54 p.m. Jan. 27 after a neighbor spotted smoke coming from the residence. The blaze apparently started in a utility room while Hale was gone.
He reportedly came home to retrieve personal belongings just before Montezuma and St. Marys Township firefighters arrived on the scene.
Thirty firefighters and five trucks remained at the location for several hours. Damage was estimated at $15,000 with the report indicating he had insurance coverage.
Hale apparently moved from the area during the course of the investigation and reportedly resided in the Sevierville, Tenn., area for a while.
Deputies from the Mercer County Sheriff's Office traveled by plane to San Antonio, Texas, to pick up Hale in late April. He was being held there on an active warrant issued in the wake of the indictment.
The aggravated arson charge carries up to eight years in prison upon conviction. The arson charge could add another 18 months in prison and $5,000 in fines.
Additional online story on this date
ST. HENRY - School board members and teachers on Monday night approved a two-year contract extension that continues a salary freeze and slashes most step pay raises. [More]
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