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Ex-correctional officer sentenced for torching building

February 28, 2002|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

A former correctional officer who set fire to the Boonboro Community Center while on drugs did it as a cry for help, his attorney Ed Button said Tuesday.

Darin Lee Shifler, 38, was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court after pleading guilty previously to setting fire to Boonsboro's Eugene C. Smith Memorial Community Center on July 12, 2001, and taking a gun and $6,200 in savings bonds from a Boonsboro home on July 25, 2001.

Button told Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright that "there was no rhyme, reason or logic to burning the Boonsboro community center."

The fire caused about $10,000 in damage.

He said Shifler had a history of mental problems and an addiction to prescription drugs. Shifler, who was employed at Roxbury Correctional Institution for 16 years, was fired because of his drug habit, Button said.

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Shifler's family and former co-workers had enabled him in the past and "there needs to be some tough love for this man to make it, if he's going to make it," said Button.

Deputy Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong said Shifler had broken into the same residence on two occasions.

"Both (arson and burglary) are serious crimes. I ask the court to take that into consideration," he said.

Wright said it made no difference that Shifler was on drugs when he committed his crimes. Shifler repeatedly rejected help and has to accept the consequences of his actions, he said.

"He was a danger, he knows this," said Wright.

Before imposing sentence, Wright asked Shifler why he wanted the gun.

"To use it on myself," Shifler said.

Wright sentenced Shifler to serve two years at the Washington County Detention Center on the second-degree arson charge and ordered him to pay restitution. Shifler served six months prior to sentencing.

Wright also handed Shifler a 10-year suspended sentence for third-degree burglary and ordered him to spend five years on probation after his release from jail.

"He has to be in a secure setting because experience has shown he's going to do whatever it takes to get the drugs," Wright said.

Button read a letter that Shifler had written to the judge when Shifler was given a chance to speak during the proceeding.

In the letter Shifler said there was no defense for what he'd done. He apologized for his crimes and said he feels "a guilt so strong (it) has taken over my very being."

Shifler said he has nothing against the town of Boonsboro.

"My heart aches for my family. They are the ones that are suffering the most," he said in his letter.

Freed the day of the fire after his family posted $30,000 bond, Shifler was jailed again after he was implicated in the burglary and he was held without bond.

He was on probation for prescription fraud and theft at the time of the fire and the burglary.

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