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Caseyville windmill saga continues; Appeal planned after forgery charges handed down

It took a St. Clair County jury less than an hour last month to find Wetzel guilty on four counts of forgery for falsifying a building permit on a 120-foot wind turbine he wanted to construct at his business, which sits near Illinois Route 157 and Interstate 64. Village attorney Duane Clarke, who did not prosecute the case, said each of the forgery charges resulted when Wetzel presented a demolition permit to the police and zoning departments to make it appear he also had permission to build the structure.

A Caseyville business owner who has spent years in a legal tussle over building a windmill said he plans to appeal a ruling handed down against him last month.

"The state relied on lies," said Larry R. Wetzel, 46, who owns the car repair shop Vehicle Doctor at 8800 Maple St. "My defense counsel showed they were lying."

It took a St. Clair County jury less than an hour last month to find Wetzel guilty on four counts of forgery for falsifying a building permit on a 120-foot wind turbine he wanted to construct at his business, which sits near Illinois Route 157 and Interstate 64.

Village attorney Duane Clarke, who did not prosecute the case, said each of the forgery charges resulted when Wetzel presented a demolition permit to the police and zoning departments to make it appear he also had permission to build the structure. Clarke said a separate building permit was needed to build the windmill, which Wetzel disputes.

The charges center on a sentence in the demolition permit that village officials said Wetzel added in order to build the windmill. Wetzel, who has been involved in other lawsuits involving properties he owns, said he didn't add the extra wording... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

A Caseyville business owner who has spent years in a legal tussle over building a windmill said he plans to appeal a ruling handed down against him last month.

"The state relied on lies," said Larry R. Wetzel, 46, who owns the car repair shop Vehicle Doctor at 8800 Maple St. "My defense counsel showed they were lying."

It took a St. Clair County jury less than an hour last month to find Wetzel guilty on four counts of forgery for falsifying a building permit on a 120-foot wind turbine he wanted to construct at his business, which sits near Illinois Route 157 and Interstate 64.

Village attorney Duane Clarke, who did not prosecute the case, said each of the forgery charges resulted when Wetzel presented a demolition permit to the police and zoning departments to make it appear he also had permission to build the structure. Clarke said a separate building permit was needed to build the windmill, which Wetzel disputes.

The charges center on a sentence in the demolition permit that village officials said Wetzel added in order to build the windmill. Wetzel, who has been involved in other lawsuits involving properties he owns, said he didn't add the extra wording and strongly denies any wrongdoing.

"When they told me the building permit was forged, it floored me," Wetzel said, adding later, "To this day I don't know where that line came from."

But Caseyville officials said Wetzel obtained the permit in October 2006 to demolish a house and garage at 8801 Hatten Street in Caseyville. When they learned he was building a windmill, stop-work orders were issued.

Wetzel has said that various state agencies told him he didn't need a permit. Clarke, however, said the village still requires the paperwork.

"Perhaps they do not require permits for windmills, but we require permits on things to be built, especially on something of this size," Clarke said. "There are zoning and construction rules that do require a permit."

Clarke said the size of the windmill, about 120 feet, and its proximity to Illinois Route 157 concerned the village.

Wetzel sees it differently.

"For trying to build a public utility - that's the essence of the case," Wetzel said. "I'm being punished for trying to help my community and country. I'm one day from making power from the renewable energy of wind."

Sentencing is set for Nov. 13. Wetzel remains free on $8,000 bond.

He faces up to five years in prison and $25,000 in fines.

Circuit Judge Annette Eckert ordered a pre-sentence investigation and psychological evaluation of Wetzel, something he said isn't needed.

"I have a standing, running objection to the court on due process violations," Wetzel said. "If they don't dismiss it, it violates my rights because no element of the crime was proven by the state."

Caseyville windmill woes

What happened: St. Clair County jury finds Caseyville business owner lied on permits to build 120-foot windmill, a charge he denies

Next up: Sentencing planned in November; appeal planned


Source: http://suburbanjournals.stl...

OCT 2 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/22477-caseyville-windmill-saga-continues-appeal-planned-after-forgery-charges-handed-down
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