Judge: ‘Hands tied’ in ordering boy to pay $36 million

A 15-year-old boy in Oregon is going to have to arrange a payment plan for restitution for his part in some vandalism last year.

He’s also going to have to do some community service, write apology letters to his victims, and be on probation for five years.

Nothing unusual here?

The juvenile started the Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon last year when he threw some fireworks.

A judge today said he owes $36 million.

Here’s how he down the amount, according to Oregon Live.

– Iris Schenk, whose Warrendale house burned down: $5,000
– Allstate Insurance: $8,111.44
– Oregon State Parks: $31,550.90
– Heuker Properties: $100,000
– Trail Club of Oregon: $168,000
– Union Pacific Railroad: $1,048,877.52
– Oregon State Fire Marshal: $1,643,035.38
– Oregon Department of Transportation: $12.5 million
– U.S. Forest Service: $21,113,755
– The court did not award restitution to Amanda Rosenkoetter and Anne Coxen, who requested $4,563.72 and $8,793.14.
— Source: Court records

The boy’s lawyer calls the amount “absurd” and is asking the court for a more reasonable amount.

The judge says his hands are tied.

“I know I will have to live with this bad decision for the rest of my life, but I have learned from this experience and will work hard to help rebuild the community in any way that I can,” the boy said. “I now realize how important it is to think before acting because my actions can have serious consequences.”

(h/t: Tracy Mumford)

  • chlost

    Here in Minnesota, restitution in juvenile matters can be challenged based upon reasonableness, including ability to pay and/or if the amounts claimed are reasonable. Additionally, any amounts covered by insurance are not included in the restitution (although sometimes the insurance companies request payment from the parents/child through a civil action). Perhaps Oregon laws are different, but it is obviously never going to be paid. He can’t even play the lottery to try to win that amount.

    • Laurie K.

      Insurance companies routinely ask for restitution in the juvenile cases I have seen. Per Minnesota case law, they are considered “victims”. I don’t know the details of this 15 year old’s case, but I would assume that most states allow a defendant an opportunity to contest the reasonableness of a restitution request and that his attorney did so.

  • Gary F

    The kid is 15. That settlement gives him no incentive to work anything more than a simple job and probably just be on the dole for the rest of his life.

    Being creative in sentencing and having the kid serve the community for a long time would make both parties better in the long run.

  • Robert

    “the kid is 15” would it be any different if he was 20, 30, ect. Yes most adults have a higher level of mental development than a 15 year old so should be held to a higher standard but what 30 year old could repay 36 million??? Tell the kid after he graduates high school he owes the Forest Service 5 years of service…..pay him the going wage but have him make amends that way.

  • Kellpa07

    I’n not sure it makes sense to order the kid to pay most of what he’ll make over his working life, and that’s a shame. The kid, however, didn’t just throw some fireworks. He took fireworks into an area that was very well marked, during the hottest and driest time of year. He knew that fireworks were both illegal and very dangerous in that place. He put hundreds of lives at risk, caused horrible damage to a beautiful part of Oregon, and then ran out of the park with his friends, rather than try to alert others to the danger. This was irresponsible, and it is only by luck that things were not even worse. There were other fires raging in Oregon at the time.

    I heard a story once (don’t know if it’s true) about a young man who started a forest fire somewhere through carelessness. Apparently, the judge in that case had some discretion, and recognized that putting the guy in prison for a long stretch would serve no real purpose. The guy did some time, but mostly his sentence was that for 20 years, he had to spend two weekends per month and two weeks per year working for the park service. Again, no idea if it’s true, maybe it sounds too sensible.

  • Ben Chorn

    I remember hearing this story, and how a hiker told them to stop throwing fireworks because they’ll start a fire. The kids laughed and well, the rest is history.

    The amount may be “absurd” but at what point do we stop consequences or lessening them? Affluenza is already a defense. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes.