Three found guilty for causing $78,000 in damage to house during teen drinking party
DORSET — Two Manchester men and one Dorset man pleaded no contest Tuesday for their part in having a party at a Dorset home last year that caused $78,000 in damage, according to Bennington County State’s Attorney Erica Marthage.
Four men were charged in June in Bennington criminal court with one felony count each of unlawful mischief resulting in more than $1,000 damage. William T. Bazyk, 19, of Manchester, John O’Leary, 19, of Dorset, and Zachary Scholander, 21, of Manchester, entered no-contest pleas on Tuesday.
The fourth man, Trevor Wilson, 17, of Manchester, is scheduled change his plea on Friday.
The charges against Bazyk and O’Leary were amended to misdemeanor counts of unlawful mischief resulting in damage greater than $250. Both men were sentenced to serve three to six months in prison. All of the time was suspended, and they will spend a year on probation, write letters of apology to the homeowner and perform 100 hours of community service.
Scholander entered into a slightly different plea arrangement, in part because he was older than the others and in part because he had a criminal history for a marijuana charge. Scholander pleaded no contest to the felony count, but his sentencing was deferred for two years.
If Scholander stays out of legal trouble for two years, the case will be sealed and removed from his record.
Also, a fifth person, Elijah Brown, 17, of Manchester, was charged as a youthful offender. The case against Brown was moved to juvenile court and is not part of the public record.
According to affidavits filed in the case, the party, which they said was primarily attended by students of Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, took place March 29 at the Dorset home of Brown’s grandparents, who were not in Dorset at the time.
Police said they were able to learn who attended the party because one person had left behind a wallet. In the course of the investigation, police discovered most of the young people at the party were Burr and Burton students, but some, such as Bazyk, O’Leary and Scholander, were older.
Police said the damage to the house and its contents was extensive and included a television set and a chandelier, both of which had been smashed.
On Tuesday, Marthage said the family had provided her office with records to indicate the total damage was $78,000. Bazyk, O’Leary, Scholander and Wilson were ordered to collectively pay the $1,000 deductible that was not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
However, Marthage also said she believed there was a civil suit in the works that could result in the four men having to pay for more of the damage.
Judge Nancy Corsones said she was willing to accept the three no contest pleas entered Tuesday because she understood the defendants were probably facing civil lawsuits. A no contest plea has the same effect on a defendant and his criminal liability in a criminal case as a guilty plea but can’t be used in a civil case to prove liability.
Similarly, Corsones said she understood if none of the men wanted to say anything before sentencing because of the lawsuit. Only O’Leary spoke, apologizing briefly to the court and the homeowners.
Marthage said the homeowners had been in “constant contact” with the victims’ rights advocate in her office and supported the resolution because they wanted the defendants to accept responsibility but “didn’t want to, essentially, destroy anyone’s life going forward.”
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