3/7/2013 11:55:00 AM Court stays heavy time for arson plea; vet disappointed
BY DENISE MARTIN
District Judge Todd Schoffelman last week sentenced Ryan Keith Ortlepp to four months in jail as part of a plea agreement in connection with an arson fire at the North Branch Veterinary Clinic in November 2012.
The clinic had been in operation for 14 years. It was so heavily damaged by the fire that the business relocated to temporary quarters while reconstruction got underway. The re-construction should be complete in a month or so, according to veterinarian Al Kemplin. State sentencing guidelines allow for 18 months for second degree arson; but Asst. County Attorney Beth Beaman explained that the 120 day sentence recommended to the judge will hold over Ortlepp’s head a stiff incentive to try to work out his issues and become law abiding.
Ortlepp was given 10 years of supervised probation to do just that, with the stayed 18 month sentence as leverage. Ortlepp will also be ordered to pay restitution to the vet clinic’s owner, the amount is still being estimated and the court expects to set restitution in about 30 days.
Damages, according to the victim impact statement read in the courtroom, are in excess of $400,000. Ortlepp must undergo a mental health diagnostic evaluation which will be reviewed. He will undergo random urinalysis tests and must not use alcohol or controlled substances. He must stay at least 75 yards away from the clinic.
Ortlepp said nothing as he sat handcuffed at the defense table in court. The sentencing on Feb. 27 was only one of many hurdles Dr. Al Kemplin has dealt with to put his professional life back in order. The veterinarian told the court he’s now constantly concerned about fire and for the safety of his employees. He felt that 120 days is not enough for the damage Ortlepp did. “The long term effects are immeasurable,” Kemplin told the judge.
In its temporary location Kemplin said two groomers had to be let go because there’s no space for them to work in the makeshift clinic. Dr. Kemplin said staff have additionally seen hours reduced because of this arson crime. Ortlepp has never given an explanation for why the clinic was set on fire that night, Kemplin told the Press.
Judge Schoffelman commented in court that he understands the victim’s perspective adding, “I won’t pretend that this will make things right.” But the judge said he would adhere to the terms of plea agreement.