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Published: Thursday, 6/12/2003

Springfield Twp. man guilty of apartment arsons

A Springfield Township man was convicted yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court for his role in arson fires that caused thousands of dollars in damage at an apartment complex in the township.

Joshua Weiler, 18, of 101 Hedgewood Lane pleaded no contest to three counts of arson and one count of aggravated arson for starting fires in three vehicles and a storage room at Hidden Cedars Apartments, 6201 Garden Rd.

Judge Ronald Bowman, who convicted Weiler of the crimes, scheduled sentencing for July 16. He faces a possible 141/2 years in prison as well as paying restitution for the damage caused in the Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 blazes.

Weiler and two 17-year-old boys were arrested after the second night of fires at the complex, where one of the juveniles lives.

Investigators said the teenagers used aerosol cans, rubbing alcohol, torn rags, and soft-drink cans to make incendiary devices that they planted in a car and pickup truck on the first night.

A similar device was detonated in a vehicle on the second night about 10:40 p.m., and followed about 20 minutes later with a fire in a storage unit at the complex.

Michael Mota, an assistant county prosecutor, said the fire had the potential of causing serious physical harm to apartment residents because the entire building had to be evacuated. No one was hurt.

The two juveniles were charged with delinquency in connection with arson. The boys were found guilty recently in Lucas County Juvenile Court, and received suspended one-year sentences at an Ohio Department of Youth Services facility. They were placed on probation for three years and classified as serious youthful offenders.

Investigators said the juveniles were wearing T-shirts for a fire Explorers post in Sylvania and had alerted residents to the apartment fire, helping in the evacuation.

Mr. Mota said the teenagers used a police scanner to monitor police and fire emergency response to the fires, and communicated among themselves with portable two-way radios.

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