VERMILION – Three men who police say burglarized and vandalized a Claus Road home were arraigned Tuesday in Vermilion Municipal Court, receiving a bond equal to the amount of damage allegedly caused during a game of “truth or dare.”
Justin Hoag, 21, of Lorain, and Steven Mahl, 18, and Joshua Mason, 18, both of Elyria, appeared in court to answer to charges of burglary and receiving stolen property stemming from the Nov. 12 break-in at a home on the 2300 block of Claus Road.
|CHUCK HUMEL / CHRONICLE|
|From left: Justin Hoag, 20, Joshua Mason, 18, and Steven Mahl, 18, walk into Vermilion Municipal Court on Tuesday.|
Vermilion Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Wakefield ordered each man held on a $50,000 bond after each pleaded not guilty to the felony charges.
Wakefield said the substantial bail was needed because of the extensive damage police say the three men caused when they broke into the home of Brad Riggs on a dare. Police say the men where playing “truth or dare” and picked Riggs` home on whim and once inside, destroyed all that they could.
The homeowner`s son returned home to find someone had smashed two big-screen TVs, an arcade game and a 55-gallon aquarium, items from the kitchen were dumped, a waterbed was slashed, a toilet was clogged, furniture and a child`s room were trashed, an obscene four-letter word was carved into the felt of the pool table, pool cues were broken and bar stools were slashed.
In the garage, all four tires on a 1995 Pontiac Trans Am were slashed, and dog feces had been put on the vehicle`s engine.
Police were at a standstill in the case until a report of the incident appeared in newspapers and on TV news.
That`s when police say tips starting coming in because Mahl and Mason allegedly were bragging to friends about what they did.
Eventually both were brought in by police for questioning and admitted involvement in the burglary, police said
Mahl`s cousin, Hoag, contends he was not involved in the crime. On Tuesday his attorney, Robert Gray, unsuccessfully tried to get Hoag released on a personal bond, claiming his client was not with Mahl and Mason that night.
“It was Justin who assisted the Vermilion Police Department to get this case to where it has evolved,” Gray said in court.
“He didn`t know what happened that night. This is just overzealous charging by the police.”
Gray said Hoag was at home hanging out with a friend, who stayed the night.
Wakefield stood behind her decision to issue Hoag a $50,000 bond but told Gray he could bring up the issue of bond as soon as the facts of the case change.
Vermilion Police Chief Robert Kish said investigators are aware of Hoag`s claim that he was not at the home and are trying to substantiate the alibi.
“If we find new evidence in the case, then we will present that to the prosecutor, who will determine if the charges should be dropped,” Kish said.