OBERLIN — A former South Amherst auxiliary firefighter was sentenced Wednesday to four months in the Lorain County Jail for calling in a fake fire at New Russia Township Hall.
Dean Evans, 27, will be allowed work release to continue at Ford Motor Co. and will have two additional months of jail time suspended, Oberlin Municipal Court Judge Thomas Januzzi said. Evans also will be on probation for five years and must pay a $1,000 fine.
Evans apologized for the “inconvenience” he caused with the fake April 14 call in which he claimed that the Butternut Ridge Road building was “engulfed in flames.” He said he “understood the crime I did was wrong.”
He pleaded no contest to a charge of making false alarms during a court appearance last month.
Evans said he is undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder and other mental health issues. Januzzi’s sentence also included a requirement for Evans to submit to a mental health evaluation and counseling.
Defense attorney Kevin Corcoran had asked Januzzi to impose probation in the case, but Prosecutor Frank Carlson said that Evans had taken police and firefighters away from their duties and made them unavailable to respond if any real emergencies had occurred.
That was more than an inconvenience to first responders, Carlson argued.
“He caused danger,” he said.
Firefighters from both Oberlin and Wellington who went to the fire call found no evidence that the building had been on fire, and investigators later traced the call to a phone number Evans listed on his application to join the South Amherst Fire Department.
He was fired after the fake call in New Russia Township and a similar incident in Lorain in which he was accused of setting a small fire and then reporting it to the authorities. That fire didn’t spread, and no one was injured in the incident.
Evans pleaded to falsification and making false alarms charges in Lorain Municipal Court in connection with that incident, according to court records.
During the investigation into the New Russia Township call, Evans told county sheriff’s Deputy Bob Vansant that he had made the fake call in the hope that he would be called out to the scene and earn pay for doing so because his family was having a hard time financially.
The report also said that Evans admitted to lying about having served in the U.S. Army and being wounded while stationed in the Middle East.