Man sentenced to jail, probation for arson

Published 8:47 am Monday, April 28, 2014

A South Bend man was given two years probation and 270 days in jail on Friday for starting multiple fires outside his former home.

Robert Freund

Robert Freund

Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge handed down the sentence to Robert Herman Freund, 65, on charges of arson in preparation to burn a building. Freund had appeared before the court previously on March 14, when he pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to the court, Freund was arrested shortly after an incident that occurred on Dec. 28. That day, the man started a number of fires inside the garage of his vacant home on Gumwood Road in Edwardsburg that was owned by he and his ex-wife. The fire department was alerted to the fire by neighbors, and dispatched crews to extinguish it.

“They also had to extinguish a small fire at the backdoor of the residence as well,” Dodge said. “You were apparently attempting to gain entry to the home by starting a fire at that location.”

At the time of his plea, Freund had stated that he believed he had the right to set fire to the residence since he still owned the property, Dodge said.

“It isn’t ok, and it does constituent the felony crime of arson,” he said. “A homeowner does not have the right to set fire to their own residence, because that endangers others, including the fire department personnel who are called to put out the fire.”

Freund’s motivation behind the arson appears to have been motivated by anger towards his former spouse. The two were married for 25 years when they divorced, according to Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz. Freund was trying to gain entry to their home in order to collect personal items he believed belonged to him.

“There’s a thin line between love and hate, and I think that Freund left love sometime ago and replaced it with vengeance and selfishness,” Fitz said.

According to the judge, Freund had been dealing with issues relating to alcohol for several years prior to this incident in December. Prior to 2012, the 65-year-old had a clean criminal record; since then, he has been convicted several times for drunk driving and once for larceny last year.

“You’ve demonstrated that your drinking has caused you to act in an irrational and dangerous fashion,” Dodge said. “Not only did setting that fire endanger you but it could have endangered other neighbor’s homes.”

Freund was given 119 days credit for time served.

Also sentenced on Friday were:

• Basil Lorenza Anglin Jr., 52, of Cassopolis, to 18 months in prison for operating while intoxicated, as a habitual offender.

• Francisco Gabriel Licea, 24, of Wyoming, Mich., to 18 months in prison for third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

• David Wayne Smith, 45, of Dowagiac, to one year probation for possession of a controlled substance.

• Kyle Javan Summons, 28, of Dowagiac, to 18 months probation for delivery/manufacture of marijuana.

• Landon Vanwinkle, 19, of Niles, to 2 years probation for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

• Douglas James Vance, 46, of Niles, to 180 days in jail for marijuana related charges. He was given 93 days credit for time served.