Teens get probation for starting fires that ravaged Pheasant Run Resort
Two teenage boys who set the fires that destroyed parts of Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles last year were sentenced Wednesday to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
DuPage County Judge Anthony Coco had stern words for one of them, after reading a report indicating that the a 17-year-old Carol Stream boy is failing his high school courses and does not have a job. "What kind of life are you going to have if you get Fs in classes and don't work?" Coco said. "It's time to put childish things behind you and be a man. ... You need to man up."
Authorities say the Carol Stream boy drove himself and three cousins to the closed resort on May 21, 2022, when they set the blaze that gutted large portions of the resort.
Coco ordered the teen to either get involved in pro-social activities, such as sports, or get a part-time job during the school year. He also ordered him to work full-time over summer break.
The 17-year-old and a 15-year-old from Wheaton pleaded guilty Feb. 9 to felony arson charges. They could have been sentenced to a state juvenile prison until their 21st birthdays.
Besides probation, both boys also will be placed on an arson registry for 10 years, and have to attend a fire safety education program.
Coco also agreed to remove electronic home monitor anklets from the boys, and to allow them to travel within the United States, if their probation officers approve. If the boys want to visit family in Turkey, however, they will have to get permission from a judge.
Two other boys -- a 15-year-old from Winfield and a 15-year-old from Carol Stream -- were sentenced to one year of court supervision and 30 hours of community service, on misdemeanor charges of trespassing. They could have been sentenced to 30 days in a juvenile detention center.
Prosecutor Alyssa Rabulinski said the 15-year-old Carol Stream boy was the most truthful with police, and could be seen on video trying to stop the other boys from setting the fires.
"I think he's a good kid. I just think he got caught up in something bad," Coco said.
"When you join a group bent on doing a dumb thing it rubs off on you," he told the boy.
Authorities said the boys had broken into the shuttered property several times before the fire, and filmed themselves wandering through the resort, which closed in 2020 after nearly 50 years as a suburban destination.
During previous break-ins, the boys threw furniture out of windows in the upper floors of the 14-story room tower, officials said.
The Wheaton boy made videos of the fires and the building burning, posting them on the social media sites Snapchat and TikTok. A video of the boys lounging at a home was captioned "After burning down the town, will we have peaceful sleep? Will the firefighters be able to stop it (the fire)?"
The fire destroyed the resort's main lobby, the Bourbon Street hospitality area and the A, B and E wings of hotel rooms. Some of the buildings have been razed since.