Archived Story

Second FOP arson suspect pleads guilty

Published 4:49pm Monday, June 25, 2012

A South Bend man charged with causing a fire that destroyed the Niles Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in March pleaded guilty to all charges Friday, a week after his Niles co-defendant also pleaded guilty and agreed to testify against him.

Gary Lee Nellans II, of South Bend, is scheduled for sentencing July 16 in Berrien County South Courthouse.

Nellans’ guilty plea came four days before he was scheduled to go to trial. Nellans’ co-defendant, Kyle Allen Kelley, pleaded guilty June 15 and agreed to testify against Nellans. Kelley is scheduled for sentencing July 9.

Nellans and Kelley 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.

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

The Niles FOP Lodge 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, engulfed in flames.

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

An investigation found the co-defendants, in an attempt to cover up evidence of stealing the car, set the car on fire and rolled it down a hill where it collided with the FOP Lodge, setting it on fire.

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