Ridgeland man still has not paid restitution for garage fire near Elk Mound in 2012

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A 56-year-old Ridgeland man who pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property and negligent handing of burning material related to a garage fire near Elk Mound in 2012 still has not paid restitution.

Roger I. Thompson appeared before Judge Rod Smeltzer January 13 for a probation review hearing. 

Thompson pleaded guilty in January of 2013 on one misdemeanor count each of criminal damage to property and negligent handling of burning material.

At the time of Thompson’s plea and sentencing hearing, the case was before Judge William Stewart Jr., who has since retired from the bench.

In addition to the guilty pleas on the two misdemeanor charges, Judge Stewart accepted a deferred prosecution agreement on one felony count of attempted arson.

According to online court records, Thompson’s probation was extended by one year in December of 2013, was again extended for one year in January of 2015, and was extended yet again for another year during a January 15, 2016, court hearing because restitution had not yet been paid.

According to the plea agreement, if Thompson successfully completed probation and paid $3,000 in restitution, one felony count of attempted arson would be dismissed.

Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf told the court at the January 13 hearing that Thompson has not fulfilled the plea agreement.

Thompson told the court he is working on getting the restitution resolved.

Thompson’s probation agent, Heather Douglas, told the court Thompson has been making monthly payments and that she was not requesting to extend probation again.

Judge Smeltzer granted the termination of probation at the end of January and ordered that restitution be paid through the Dunn County Clerk of Courts office.

Another review hearing has been scheduled for March 10 at 8:45 a.m.

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 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. 

Svee said that when she attempted to confront Thompson, he had locked her out of the building.

Deputies said when they entered the building, they could smell smoke and found debris that had been burned and was still hot to the touch. Two one-gallon gas cans were located within about a foot of the burned materials, they said.

When asked what her relationship was to the property, Svee said her grandmother, Judith Hayden, owned the property, and that Hayden had asked Svee to keep an eye on the property.

Svee said she had been driving from Menomonie to Eau Claire, and when she drove past the property, she had noticed smoke coming out of the shop door.

Thompson had started renting the property the previous summer, had only paid $400, and an eviction was currently in the process, Svee told deputies.