Wisconsin man gets probation for diesel tank fire near Antioch
A Wisconsin man received probation after admitting he set fire to a diesel fuel tank near Antioch during a drunken rage in April.
John J. Nolan, 32, of Twin Lakes, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted arson Friday in front of Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes; he was sentenced to 24 months of probation, 100 hours of community service, and $12,000 in restitution to the owner of the tank on the 42900 block of North Pedersen Lane in unincorporated Lake County.
While on probation, Nolan will not be allowed to use drugs or alcohol and can't be on the property -- or have any contact with the owners -- where the tank was destroyed around 4 a.m. April 7, Shanes said.
In exchange for his plea, Nolan's arson charge was reduced to attempted arson and the criminal damage to property charge was dropped by Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Lauren Kalcheim Rothenberg. Had the case gone to trial and Nolan been found guilty of arson, he could have faced up to 5 years in prison, Shanes said in court.
Rothenberg said the victims in the case had been advised of the plea deal, and their concern was to prevent him from doing this to anyone else.
Jennifer Snyder of the Lake County public defenders office said "everyone seems on board" with the plea deal. Nolan did not previously know the property owners, Snyder said.
Nolan was arrested April 25 after the property owners provided police with surveilance video that showed Nolan entering the property and damaging items on the lawn, authorities said.
Rothenberger said Nolan appeared "extremely drunk" on the video when he set fire to the diesel fuel in the tank. He was able to run away before the tank ignited and exploded.
Authorities had previously said in a news release that Nolan admitted damaging and setting fire to the tank because he was angry he had been unsuccessful in asking someone out on a date that night.
Nolan said in court he was a diesel truck mechanic and, when Shanes asked him if he knew diesel fuel was flammable, Nolan admitted that he did.
"What happened here was an extremely dangerous situation," Shanes added. "But this is an opportunity offered to you that allows you to address some of the demons you face."