Archived Story

Niles FOP arsonist gets 5 1/2 years

Published 1:00pm Monday, July 9, 2012

Nineteen-year-old Kyle Allen Kelley, of Niles, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison Monday morning for helping cause a fire that destroyed the Niles Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in March.

Kelley didn’t appear upset with the 66-month minimum sentence handed down by Berrien County Judge Dennis Wiley. Kelley could be seen smiling at people in attendance numerous times throughout the proceedings at the South County Courthouse.

Prior to sentencing, Kelley apologized to his family and the people he put in danger.

“Hopefully this will teach me a lesson so I can better myself in the future,” Kelley said.

Wiley told Kelley his sentence is miniscule compared to the amount of danger he put public safety officials in when he and co-defendant Gary Lee Nellans II set a stolen car on fire and pushed it down a hill toward the FOP lodge.

“You are damn lucky you didn’t kill somebody … because firemen get killed all the time, or seriously injured, in fires they are fighting,” Wiley said.

“You are extremely lucky that nothing really tragic happened because you would be spending life in prison.”

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 the lodge on fire.

Nellans is scheduled for sentencing Monday.

Both Kelley and Nellans were 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 prosecution has yet to determine the amount of restitution the co-defendants owe the victims.

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