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Wisconsin man gets jail time for $50 million fire at meatpacking plant

October 27, 2009
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Two brothers convicted of firing a military flare that sparked a meatpacking plant fire the day after Independence Day in suburban Milwaukee will celebrate the next three Fourth of Julys in jail to remind them of their crimes, reports the Associated Press. Kurtis J. Popp, 25, of Milwaukee, was sentenced to 90 days in a local jail, which must be served for 30 days each July for the next three years. He also received three years probation and 500 hours of community service. Joshua J. Popp, 23, got the same sentence earlier this month. As felons, the brothers are barred from owning firearms. During Joshua Popp''s sentencing, Cimpl said he wanted him to serve the time in July because he committed the crime in celebration of the Fourth of July. Kurtis Popp, who along with his brother pleaded guilty to second-degree recklessly endangering safety in a plea agreement, apologized for his behavior. Joshua Popp, who served two tours in Iraq and earned a Purple Heart, acquired the flare about two years ago when he was in the U.S. Marine Corps. He let his brother fire it July 5, and it landed on the roof of a building at the Patrick Cudahy Inc. plant in Cudahy. Because it was a holiday weekend, only 10 people were in the plant, which is owned by Smithfield Foods Inc. The fire burned for days and destroyed four buildings. Thousands of residents were evacuated from the area. The men could have faced 10 years in prison and a fine of up $25,000 but under their plea agreements Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern said he recommended they serve time in a local jail, three years probation and community service and if they violated the sentence they would go to prison. Lovern told the judge previous damage estimates of $50 million were conservative. He said the company didn''t want to be part of the criminal case and did not request restitution.
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