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Probation extended for Ridgeland man convicted of Elk Mound garage fire

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — Probation has been extended for one year for a 53-year-old Ridgeland man convicted of starting a garage on fire in the Town of Elk Mound in May of 2012.

The Honorable Barbara Vadnais extended the probation for Roger I. Thompson during a court hearing December 23.

Thompson pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor counts of criminal damage to property and negligent handling of burning material in January of 2013.

The Honorable Judge William Stewart accepted Thompson’s plea last January, found him guilty, deferred acceptance for two years on Thompson’s plea of no contest to the felony charge of attempted arson, and placed him on probation for one year for each misdemeanor to run concurrently.

Deferred acceptance means that if Thompson violates the terms of his probation on the misdemeanors, a circuit court judge would have the option of accepting his “no contest” plea to the charge of attempted arson and could find Thompson guilty of the crime.

If Thompson successfully completes probation and pays restitution, the felony charge of arson will be dismissed.

Attempted arson is a Class C felony that carries a penalty of up to $50,000 in fines and/or 20 years in prison.

Judge Stewart ordered Thompson to pay restitution to the owner of the building, Judith Hayden.

According to online court records, Thompson was ordered to pay $3,100 in restitution.

His probation was extended for one year because Thompson has not yet paid $502 that he owes to the court.

During the court hearing last January, Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson noted that Thompson has a criminal history of a prior arson conviction for which he has served a prison sentence and probation.

Thompson was on probation at the time of the incident in the Town of Elk Mound, Peterson said.

According to the criminal complaint, on the afternoon of May 19, 2012, Dunn County Sheriff Department’s deputies responded to a complaint of a fire inside a Town of Elk Mound building on state Highway 12/29.

When deputies arrived on the scene, a woman who identified herself as Megan Svee, Judith Hayden’s granddaughter, reported that a man known to her as Roger Thompson had started a fire inside of the building and that she could see smoke and flames.

A review hearing for the case is scheduled for January of 2015.