Grand Rapids Admitted Arsonist Gets "Get Out Of Jail Free" Card After Copping Plea To Torching Home In Foreclosure For Insurance Cash
- She torched her home with her family inside to get the insurance money, avoid foreclosure and be with a new boyfriend, authorities said. But that was not enough to make Sheryl Christman see any jail time for the potential 20-year felony. No one was injured in the Sept. 1 blaze that destroyed her $150,000 Gaines Township home and Christman has no prior criminal record. She also has a history of depression, said her attorney, Gaylor Cardinal. Kent County Circuit Judge Dennis Kolenda [...] sentenced Christman to five years probation and 1,000 hours community service. She also will have to pay back her insurance company $140,000 in restitution.
- The house was four days from foreclosure and Christman said she had tried to file for bankruptcy. She had a plan for the insurance money but her boyfriend, wearing a wire, busted her while working with the authorities.
- The judge noted during the proceedings this was his second recent sentencing for arson. The other suspect received prison time because circumstances were different, he said. A former Muskegon Heights police officer torched his Plainfield Township home, hoping to get insurance money for the house he could not sell. He got five to 20 years in prison, and Kolenda cited the officer's betrayal of trust.
- Some stunned court watchers in the gallery watched the proceedings with their mouths agape as the judge issued no jail time.
For the story, see Woman gets no jail time for GR arson.