Criminal Justice

Harvard Law Grad Can't Afford $180K, So Restitution Is $50K in 9/11 Chapel Arson


A Harvard Law School graduate who had his Sidley Austin job offer rescinded after he was accused of setting fire to a Sept. 11 memorial chapel in Manhattan had expected to turn to his parents for help in paying tens of thousands of dollars in restitution required as part of a plea deal.

But they can’t help Brian Schroeder, now 28, as much as he had planned because they are dealing with medical bills for a stroke suffered by his mother, his lawyer, Alan Lewis, told a Manhattan Supreme Court judge yesterday, DNAinfo reports.

“I am very concerned about his case. I’m just getting a very uncomfortable feeling about the way this is progressing, or not,” said Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Rena Uviller.

She gave Schroeder the option of rescinding his November 2010 guilty plea to charges of cemetery desecration, arson, burglary and criminal mischief and going to trial in the felony case or retaining the plea and serving time or serving no jail time, as originally agreed, and paying $50,000 restitution by Sept. 21, the DNAinfo post recounts. The shrine served as a temporary resting place for unidentified victims of the 9-11 terrorist attack; their remains were not damaged by the arson.

The prosecution had sought $180,000 in restitution, saying that this was what Schroeder’s actions had actually cost, including 24-hour security after the break-in at the memorial chapel. Earlier, the total had been estimated at $25,000 to $30,000. The plea deal required him to pay restitution, but didn’t specify the amount.

Schroeder agreed to the $50,000 option, saying that he would try to come up with the money by the deadline the judge set. He faces a maximum prison term of of 2⅓ to seven years if he doesn’t, the article states.

He reportedly has said he was drunk at the time of the October 2009 incident. As required by the court, he has been attending alcohol counseling.

The New York Daily News also has a story.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Harvard Law Grad Will Get Community Service for Arson of 9-11 Chapel”

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