BY SUE KIESEWETTER
FAIRFIELD -- Charges against 11 Fairfield High School graduates who removed a fiberglass elephant from Jungle Jim's Market will be dropped if they perform eight days of community service.
Fairfield Municipal Court Judge Keith Spaeth agreed Thursday to a proposal from Fairfield Law Director John Clemmons during a hearing on the May 25 theft. Each of the 11 must complete court-supervised work by Aug. 31.
They also must pay court costs of $22 per charge and split a $100 towing fee incurred when the 700-pound elephant and two larger-than-life snails were returned. The students put them on the high school lawn as a senior prank.
If the fees are paid and community service completed, the charges against the teen-agers will be withdrawn, Judge Spaeth said.
"It was our intent that the defendants recognize their wrongdoing and perform some community service," Mr. Clemmons said. "We feel that's an appropriate punishment for the acts committed." Judge Spaeth allowed the theft and felony theft charges to be amended to criminal mischief, a third-degree misdemeanor. Misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges were not amended.
"This type of conduct is unacceptable," Judge Spaeth told the teens and their parents. "It will not be tolerated. The court has bent its rules and procedures for you. Make no mistake about it, young men, if you don't complete the community service you will stand trial on the charges as amended."