Firefighters put out a fire that destroyed the Niles FOP. One suspect has pleaded not guilty to arson. File photo

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Arson suspect pleads not guilty

Published 12:13am Tuesday, May 1, 2012

One of two men charged with allegedly causing a fire that destroyed the Niles Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in March has entered a plea of not guilty.

Kelley

Kyle Allen Kelley, 19, of Niles, pleaded not guilty during a pre-exam hearing Friday at the South County courthouse in Niles, according to the Berrien County prosecutor’s office.

Kelley is facing two felony arson charges, two felony unlawful driving away of a motor vehicle charges and amisdemeanor charge of breaking and entering of a motor vehicle to steal property.

The most serious charge — arson of real property — carries a penalty of 10 years in prison.

Kelley’s trial date is yet to be determined.

Nellans

Kelley’s co-defendant, 25-year-old Gary Lee Nellans II, of South Bend, is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday morning for a pre-exam hearing.

Nellans is facing the same charges as Kelley, except he has an additional charge filed against him of misdemeanor failing to report a property damage accident.

The Niles FOP building was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of March 14.

Upon arriving at the scene, police found the building, as well as a vehicle parked under an overhang of the building, were engulfed in flames.

The vehicle, a 2005 Chevy, was later determined stolen from a residence in the 300 block of Hill St., Niles, earlier that morning.

The fire of the vehicle and building were determined to be arson.

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