Probation, restitution for ex-Chicago cop in Naperville tent-burning case

  • James Povolo

    James Povolo

Updated 11/1/2017 7:56 PM

The retired Chicago police sergeant accused of setting fire to a vacant tent belonging to a well-known Naperville squatter has been sentenced to two years' probation and ordered to pay restitution.

James Povolo, 73, of the 1300 block of Dartford Court in Naperville, pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal damage to property and was sentenced to two years of second-chance probation, five days in the sheriff's Work Alternative Program, $5,000 in restitution to Scott Huber for damage to his property and $895 to the DuPage Water Commission to pay for a nearby meter damaged in the blaze.


If Povolo completes the probation, the conviction will be removed from his record.

The fire, set around 2 p.m. July 18, 2016, burned Huber's tent and many of his belongings. Huber has been camping at various Naperville locations for nearly 16 years as part of a protest in which he blames the city for the loss of his business and home.

Prosecutors have said Povolo, who had no criminal history and was a decorated officer, knew Huber was not inside when he threw a flare into the gasoline-doused tent just south of a gas station at Ogden Avenue and Naper Boulevard.

Povolo turned himself into Naperville police a few days later and admitted he started the fire.

Huber, given a chance to speak during Wednesday's hearing, said Povolo "committed a terrorist act" when he "desecrated a temple, a shrine to democracy and American freedom."

Huber also said the fire has "crushed" him and left him with increased stress and poor health.

Povolo declined to comment after the hearing, but his attorney, Rick Kayne, said Povolo "just snapped." Kayne said Povolo did not know Huber or any of his history living on the streets in and around downtown Naperville.

"He (Povolo) has been through a lot in his career. He's been in several live shootings. He's now in a counseling group that is strictly for officers in live shootings," Kayne said. "It was just a post- stress situation. He snapped."

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