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Two charged with arson for FOP fire

Published 5:56pm Friday, April 20, 2012

Two men have been arrested and charged with arson for allegedly starting a fire that destroyed the Niles Fraternal Order of Police lodge March 14.

Kyle Allen Kelley, 19, of Niles, and Gary Lee Nellans II, 25, of South Bend, were arraigned Friday on auto theft and arson charges in the Niles Fifth District Court.

Both are lodged at the Berrien County Jail on bonds of $250,000 each.

Niles detectives arrested Kelly without incident Thursday in Cass County. They arrested Nellans today in Coloma without incident. Michigan State Police assisted with the arrests.

Both men are charged with two counts of felony arson, two counts of felony unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle and one count of misdemeanor breaking and entering of a motor vehicle to steal property. Nellans had an additional charge of misdemeanor fail to report property damage accident.

The most serious charge — arson of real property — carries a penalty of 10 years. The other felonies each carry a punishment of five years.

Preliminary exams are scheduled for May 1.

At around 5:15 a.m. March 14, the FOP lodge at 600 N. State St. was reported on fire. Niles police arrived to find the building and a vehicle parked under an overhang of the building engulfed in flames. The vehicle, a 2005 Chevy, was stolen from a residence in the 300 block of Hill St., Niles, earlier that morning. The vehicle and building fires were determined to be arson.

Earlier that same morning — around 4:24 a.m. — the Niles police responded to an accident near N. 11th St. and Burns in which the occupant/s of the vehicle had fled the scene prior to officers arriving. The vehicle, a 2000 Saturn, was found resting against a guardrail. Officers learned the vehicle had been stolen from a residence in the 800 block of Burns St., Niles, earlier that morning.

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