Updated: 04/10/2014 10:47 PM
Created: 04/10/2014 4:17 PM WDIO.com
By: Laurie Stribling
The former Fire Chief of Babbitt will spend the next five years in prison. Ryan Scharber was sentenced Thursday in Federal Court after he admitted to setting several fires.
Five years in prison is the mandatory minimum for these types of crimes in Federal Court. Scharber's Defense Attorney Joe Tamburino said if Scharber was in State Court he would only be sentenced to two years.
"In this case, Mr. Scharber didn't do anything to hurt anyone," Tamburino said. "He burned some fires less than three acres and he attempted at one point to burn a small structure, but he didn't and there was no one in the structure."
During the sentencing, Tamburino argued for a lesser sentence and said Scharber didn't commit the crimes with malice.
"People have problems and sometimes they do stupid, ill-considered acts, but they're still good people," Tamburino said.
U.S. Assistant Attorney Andrew Dunne agreed that Scharber is not a bad person.
"He's a good man," Dunne said. "He's a decent man, but he made some awfully bad choices."
Dunne said as fire chief, Scharber should be held to a higher standard. He also said he betrayed the community's trust.
Dunne also said between 2010 and 2012 there were 39 suspicious fires in the Babbitt area. He said since this news broke, there has been zero.
Scharber also spoke during the sentencing.
"I'm in no way a pyromaniac," Scharber said.
Scharber said mental health issues could be to blame for his actions. He also said he spent the last two years trying to make things right with the community.
Scharber's sentence includes paying $27,819 in restitution, 100 hours of community service and not working on fire departments while on supervised release.
Scharber was ordered to turn himself in on June 2. His attorney has said they plan to appeal.
Northlanders Work To Improve MN Child Protective Services
After a Minnesota boy died despite 15 reports of child abuse, Governor Mark Dayton organized a task force to improve the system and protect our kids. The group visited Duluth Wednesday for input from people in northeastern Minnesota.
Request Denied to Remove Judge on Peterson Case
A prosecution request to remove the judge handling the felony child abuse case against Minnesota Vikings star Adrian Peterson has been denied.
Bilingual Signs on FDL Reservation Preserve Anishinaabe Culture
Two new bilingual signs have been put up in St. Louis County, to show the English and Ojibwe names of lakes.
Wade Stadium Gets New and Improved AstroTurf
New AstroTurf has been installed at Wade Stadium, and crews will be finishing up the final touches in the coming days. The turf means there won't be the need to water and fertilize the field next year.
YWCA Honors Women of Distinction
The YWCA held a special celebration of women and the roles they play in the community on Wednesday. The honorees at this year's Women of Distinction Award Luncheon include Babette Sandman, Shunu Shrestha, Betty Brasgala and Joan Peterson.