9/11, Crime, Drinking, Screw-Ups, Sentencing Law

Could a Harvard Law Grad Go to Jail for Failing to Pay What He Owes?

Brian Schroeder

No, this post isn’t about Elie and his continuing struggles with debt. It’s an update on Brian Schroeder, the Harvard Law School graduate who set fire to a memorial housing the remains of unidentified 9/11 victims, on Halloween 2009 (after a night of heavy drinking).

As you may recall, Schroeder previously pleaded guilty to criminal charges in connection with the fire. He received no jail time but was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and pay restitution.

Now there’s a problem with Schroeder’s ability to pay restitution, which could potentially land him in the slammer….

DNAinfo reports on the latest travails of Brian Schroeder:

A Harvard law grad who got a jail-free plea deal after admitting he drunkenly set fire to an East Side chapel holding the remains of 9/11 victims cannot come up with the money for restitution to the city and may now go to prison or face a trial, a judge said Monday.

Brian Schroeder, 28, agreed to pay restitution as part of his plea deal, but his attorney, Alan Lewis, has since informed the court that he cannot pay any of it because the money he was expecting to borrow from his parents is no longer available.

“Mr. Schroeder’s mother had a stroke. His parents have major medical bills and that makes it even more difficult,” his attorney Alan Lewis said in court on Monday.

This is a very sad situation. When Brian spoke with investigators about the night of the fire, he said to them, “I thought I was dreaming.” It now sounds like he’s living a nightmare.

Fortunately, the judge presiding over his case, Rena Uviller of New York Supreme Court, is willing to give Schroeder a second chance. Prosecutors sought $180,000 in restitution from Schroeder, but Judge Uviller reduced the amount and gave Schroeder some time to obtain the funds:

The judge gave Schroeder the option of rescinding his felony guilty plea and going to trial, going to jail on the guilty plea, or agreeing to come up with $50,000 by Sept. 21.

If he fails to meet those terms, he could go to prison for a maximum sentence of 2 1/3 to seven years.

Schroeder, through Lewis, agreed to try to come up with the money by then and indicated he did not want to withdraw his plea.

It’s not clear how Brian Schroeder plans to locate $50K between now and September 21. It’s unfortunate that his offer from Sidley Austin was rescinded.

Perhaps he can raise money from friends? As you may recall, a number of them sent testimonials to Above the Law, praising Brian as a “kind, outgoing, thoughtful and funny person.” If 100 friends donated (or lent) $500 each to Brian Schroeder, that would amount to $50,000. If Deidre Dare can raise $25,000 to publish her novel about the erotic expoits of expats in Moscow, Brian Schroeder should be able to raise $50,000 to keep himself out of jail.

We’ll keep you posted. If someone sets up a website to raise money for Brian — like Deidre Dare’s Kickstarter page, or the legal defense fund for Gerald Ung, aka the Temple Law School shooter — please send us the link. Thanks.

Harvard Grad Who Torched 9/11 Chapel Can’t Pay Debt to City, Now Faces Jail
[DNAinfo via ABA Journal]
Brian Schroeder, Harvard Law grad who set fire to 9/11 chapel, has fine cut down to $50K
[New York Daily News]

Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Brian Schroeder

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