7 men charged in Greensburg looting

05/10/2007 1:01 AM

01/24/2008 5:15 PM

Judge Daniel Love called court in a vacant Mullinville drugstore Wednesday to read criminal charges against seven people accused of looting cigarettes and beer from a Dillons grocery store shattered by Friday's tornado.

The seven included four Fort Riley Soldiers, a reserve police officer and two men accused of posing as Red Cross volunteers.

"The whole town is up in arms about this," said Renee Liggett, who lost her Greensburg home, as she watched the proceedings.

The tornado leveled Greensburg and badly damaged the Kiowa County Courthouse. Earlier Wednesday, Chief Judge Kay McFarland of the Kansas Supreme Court signed an order allowing the district court to take its business to Mullinville, about 10 miles west on U.S. 400.

Love, chief judge of the 16th Judicial District, which includes Kiowa County, sat at a table with an industrial sink to his left. He conducted the hearings against the whir of a power drill and saw, as a worker tried to frame a missing display window and insulate the room against the noise of traffic rolling by .

Love and court clerks DeLanna Nichols and Debra Schmidt spent Monday and Tuesday salvaging equipment, supplies and court files.

With the help of staff from the adjacent Mullinville branch of the Haviland State Bank, some Greensburg High School students, carpenters and other residents, they moved court into the former drug store.

They brought the American and Kansas flags from the courthouse. But the staffs were too long for the smaller room and had to be propped between a bookcase and utility box.

The district court will be located there until the Kiowa County Courthouse is "sufficiently repaired and suitable for the return of court business," the Supreme Court order read.

Love set bond at $75,000. They were being held in the Pratt County Jail.

The four Army soldiers from Fort Riley were James A. Sweene, Jacob B. Kilgore, Spencer T. Basoco and Joel A. Dominguez. Along with reserve police Officer Joseph G. Novak, they were charged with burglary and theft at the Dillons store.

Officials from the state adjutant general's office said Sunday the five had been allowed to come and go, despite a curfew, since they were in uniform, but weren't a part of any official rescue or search effort.

Love set a preliminary hearing for May 17.

Two other men, David Sheley and James E. Carlisle, were charged with burglary and theft at the Dillons store. They also stand charged of impersonating Red Cross volunteers. Sheley and Carlisle told Love they'd grown up in Norton County and now lived in Pratt.

Kiowa County Attorney Candace Lattin said two other men, Adan Gonzalez-Matta and Alejandro Vergara, who said they were roofers from Wichita, were charged with criminal trespass and obstruction of legal process. Lattin said the pair had slipped into town after curfew and then refused police orders to leave.

Novak indicated he wanted to hire his own attorney. The judge appointed lawyers for the others from area communities.

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