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Crime & Courts

Some of teen’s arson case shifted to the juvenile system

WOODSTOCK –Prosecutors dropped nine of 15 charges against a Crystal Lake teen accused of setting at least five barn fires because of his age at the time of the offenses, but said they planned to start juvenile proceedings against the boy.

Andrew Wiegand, of 1472 Bridgedale Road, turned 17 on July 21. Three of the five barn fires for which he was arrested were set before then.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sharyl Eisenstein said Wednesday that Wiegand gave a videotaped confession, telling police he started the fires because he was bored and “for the rush.”

He still is charged with two counts each of arson, criminal damage to property and criminal trespassing.

Wiegand’s attorney, Charmaine Ruckoldt, requested his $50,000 bond be lowered. Wiegand has no criminal history and would return to live with his mother, who told Judge Joseph Condon her son had an 11 p.m. curfew.

But Eisenstein pointed out that at least one of the fires that Wiegand is accused of setting occurred after he was supposed to be home for the night.

“Fifty thousand dollars’ bond is low in my opinion, and I refuse to reduce it further,” Condon said.

Police have said the fires, which occurred over more than two months, caused more than $1 million in property damage.

Since the end of May, the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office responded to fires involving hay barns in rural Woodstock, Marengo and Harvard.

Wiegand and his co-defendant, Joseph Gerdes – who turned 17 in March – also were linked to fires in Lakewood and Crystal Lake, authorities said.

Gerdes, who is free on bond, also had a court date Wednesday. His case was continued to Sept. 5.

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