Teen Gets Community Service For Forest Fire
POSTED: 10:01 a.m. EDT June 5, 2003
TOMS RIVER, N.J. -- An Ocean County teenager will spend his Saturdays maintaining firefighting equipment to fulfill the community service portion of his sentence for his role in causing a forest fire that caused $1 million in property damage.
Phillip J. Marshall of Beachwood was sentenced to three years probation and 780 hours of community service on Wednesday by Superior Court Judge Edward Turnbach.
Marshall, 19, pleaded guilty to arson in March under a deal struck with the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office. Marshall, who is due to graduate from high school this month, was spared a 364-day jail term he could have received under the plea bargain.
He was one of three Beachwood residents charged in the June 2002 fire that scorched 1,300 acres, destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of 500 others in central Ocean County and closed the Garden State Parkway for 12 hours.
Authorities said the three failed to extinguish an illegal campfire after celebrating Ryan Mehan's 17th birthday with a beer party in the woods at Double Trouble State Park in Berkeley.
Mehan received a year of probation after he pleaded guilty in Family Court to criminal mischief and witness tampering charges in September.
On Monday, Christopher Walters, 20, pleaded guilty to criminal mischief charges as part of a deal struck with prosecutors.
Walters -- who had been charged with starting an illegal fire, damaging state property and disrupting public transportation -- faces up to 364 days in jail when he is sentenced July 18.
Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.