Jacksonville Man Receives Probation, Court Mandated Counseling Over Summer Arson Incident

By Benjamin Cox on December 2, 2020 at 9:27am

23 year old Zachary D. Formanek, former resident of the Beecher Hi-Rise Apartments in the 300 block of West Beecher Avenue, plead guilty to one count of arson in Morgan County Court yesterday.

Formanek was arrested on June 25th by Jacksonville Police after an incident in which he barricaded himself in an apartment and set the apartment on fire and then began throwing items out a 7th floor window. A day prior to the incident, Formanek had plead guilty to a disorderly conduct charge stemming from an arrest on April 13th in which he pulled a fire alarm at the Hi-Rise when there was no emergency. No one was hurt in either incident.

Formanek was initially cited by Jacksonville Police in the June 25th incident for aggravated arson, criminal damage to government supported property, resisting a peace officer, and disorderly conduct for breach of peace. He was then formally charged for the aggravated arson and criminal damage citations. All four counts were dropped per the plea in court, as the state filed the lesser arson charge during pre-trial hearings negotiated between State’s Attorney Gray Noll and Public Defender Tom Piper. Aggravated Arson, a Class X felony in the state, carries a prison sentence of 6-30 years in prison. Formanek’s charge was considered “aggravated” in the case due to his knowledge of people present in the building at the time of the fire. The criminal damage charge, a class 4 felony, up to a 3 year prison sentence and up to a $25,000 fine.

Formanek was sentenced to 4 years of probation, a court ordered mental health evaluation, mental health counseling as deemed appropriate by the Morgan County probation office, and ordered to have no contact with Morgan County Housing Authority property. Formanek was given credit for 159 days served in the Morgan County Jail. Fines, fees, and court costs were waived per completion of probation.