The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

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March 5, 2013

Meth fire suspects bound over

CONNEAUT —  Two Conneaut men arrested at the scene of a house fire reportedly started by a methamphetamine-making operation were bound over to the Ashtabula County grand jury Monday morning.

Rick Erickson, 26, and Jory Rhodes, 25, both waived their right to a preliminary hearing before Judge Thomas Harris. Both men face three felony charges: one count of illegal assembly of drugs and two counts of illegal manufacture of drugs.

Rhodes’ bond was set at $250,000 cash/surety and is represented by a public defender, a court spokeswoman said. Harris reduced Erickson’s bond from $250,000 to $100,000 cash/surety at the request of his attorney, Ariana Tarighati. Two disorderly conduct charges facing Erickson, both misdemeanors, were dismissed.

Police arrested the pair at the scene of a Feb. 26 fire at 99 Marshall St., where Erickson lived. Rhodes was picked up on an outstanding warrant, while Erickson was arrested after he reportedly got into a confrontation with another man.

The fire began in an upstairs bedroom. Firefighters battling the blaze found some meth-making labs in the room. The state fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause and the meth labs are a possible culprit, officials have said.

An elderly woman, believed to be Erickson’s grandmother, also lived at the house and escaped unharmed. Several dogs and cats were also rescued, firefighters said.

Two firefighters were injured at the fire scene, according to reports. One firefighter suffered a fractured arm after a slip on the ice, officials said. Erickson and Rhodes suffered burns in the blaze, firefighters said.

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