Facebook pixel
Removed code
Chat Phone
Close Menu
LeFante Law Offices

The Brickhouse Restaurant Fire Settlement


Waiting Rubble

By Lainie Steelman
McDonough County Voice 8/1/2013

Bushnell – More than two years following a fire that destroyed a downtown restaurant, the burned-out pile of rubble remains – along with mounting frustration amongst nearby business owners and city officials.

The Brickhouse Restaurant, 455 W. Main St., was lost to a fire in the early morning hours of March 10, 2011; it had been open for just three months. Buildings adjacent to the restaurant sustained heavy smoke and water damage.

Although there were no injuries resulting from the fire, one occupant in an adjacent apartment escaped.

Six months after the fire, two of the restaurant’s four co-owners, Rick Roberts and his wife Allison Roberts, were arrested and charged with aggravated arson and arson in connection with the fire. Since the arrest, the case against both Roberts and cleanup of the rubble has been stalled. The case against both Roberts is still in a pretrial phase. According to McDonough County State’s Attorney James Hoyle, the case hinges on when the defense produces a report from an expert witness.

“It’s just been kind of hanging there waiting for this defense report,” he said.

The attorney for Allison Roberts, James LeFante, confirmed that the court appointed attorney representing Rick Roberts has retained an expert witness to produce a report on the cause of the Brickhouse fire, and that expert has yet to finish the job.

LeFante also pointed to the Roberts’ insurance company. He said the company won’t pay for the loss and clean-up of the Brickhouse restaurant building until the criminal case is resolved.

“The insurance company also investigated and brought in fire and electrical experts,” LeFante continued. “Neither one of them could say it was arson. Neither one of them.”

Another investigator also concluded that the cause of the Brickhouse fire is undetermined. James Tunney, with the Illinois State Fire Marshall’s Office, was on the scene of the fire and conducted interviews with the Bushnell Fire Department chief, Bushnell law enforcement, and Rick and Allison Roberts.

Tunney’s report states, “Due to extensive heat and fire damage, this investigator was unable to clearly define the exact cause of the fire and fire cause will be documented as undetermined in nature.”

Furthermore, Tunney recommended that a qualified electrical engineer examine the building’s electrical structure.

For those who must look at the unsightly hole on Bushnell’s downtown square, two years is long enough.

Mike Rench owns an insurance business three doors down from the remains of the Brickhouse restaurant. His building had smoke damage from the fire but reopened four days later.

“Something needs to be done,” he said Wednesday morning. “It’s been two years and nothing’s been done.”

Lori Worthington, who owns Lulu’s restaurant next to Mike Rench’s business, said the mess is a safety hazard. Wednesday morning she collected a fallen brick off the sidewalk.

“What scares me the most is that the bricks are falling,” Worthington said. “It’s just disgusting. It’s been two years.”

Worthington also said she’s concerned about the fence the city of Bushnell placed in front of the rubble. She said a child could easily slip through a loose corner and step into the area.

Bushnell city attorney Liz Duvall has been talking to the attorneys involved in the case against both Roberts. She said the city is prepared to start moving toward demolition of the Brickhouse remains once the attorneys give the OK and the statuary rules and notification procedures are followed.

“The alderman and the mayor have told me it’s a priority,” Duvall said.

Bushnell Mayor Jim Evans said he wants the are cleaned up because there has been expressed interest from several parties in developing the property.

“Oh yeah, there’s people interested,” he said. “And I’m glad, because nobody likes empty stores, especially one that looks like a war zone.”

Following her arrest, Allison Roberts posted a $75,000 bond. Rick Roberts posted a $125,000 bond after his arrest, but according to court documents, on Nov. 11, 2011, he surrendered his bond back to the person who posted it and was returned to McDonough County Jail.

Aggravated arson, a Class X felony, carries a sentence of six to 30 years in prison. Arson, a Class 2 felony, is punishable by three to seven years in prison.

 

Auto Accidents Auto Accidents
Workers Comp. Workers Comp.
Medical Malpractice Medical Malpractice
Slip-And-Fall Slip-And-Fall
Neglect Nursing Home
Negligence

Donald Lane

Donald Lane

Mollie Huisman

I would highly recommend LeFante Law Office! Jim LeFante is amazing, as is Tom Norman and ALL his staff! They truly went above and beyond to help us! Thank you SO… Read more “Mollie Huisman”

Mollie Huisman

Mike Pilat

Lefante Law Office is one of the best law firms in the midwest. Mr. Lefante and his staff not only took care of my case in a timely manner they made me feel like I was part of their family at the law firm. Mr. Lefante and his staff checked in on me after numerous… Read more “Mike Pilat”

Mike Pilat

Wayne Peugh

Lefante Law Office is not you typical law firm. You are made to feel from beginning to end that your case is their top priority. Correspondence is always returned in a timely matter and all of their resources are available to you to make this a team effort. The lefante team will offer their opinion… Read more “Wayne Peugh”

Wayne Peugh

Mosab Hammoudeh

Thomas Norman was incredible to deal with. Very nice attitude, and showed genuine concern about my issue. He was able to reduce a very serious speeding traffic ticket to a simple speeding ticket. I would strongly recommend him to anyone who is facing a serious (or less serious) traffic… Read more “Mosab Hammoudeh”

Mosab Hammoudeh

Elaine Howard

My husband and I would like to thank personally Atty. Shane Mahoney, Sherwood A. Moses and especially Mr. James LeFante. We highly recommend this Law Firm. They truly showed compassion, identified with our situation and worked hard to resolve it… Read more “Elaine Howard”

Elaine Howard

Your Angel

I needed legal advice and possible counsel after a work injury and a car accident. I saw their commercial one night and decided to call to inquire about receiving help. I can appreciate their services wholeheartedly. Always keeping me informed. Always assuring I have all my questions answered. Got me the results I needed. Thanks… Read more “Your Angel”

Your Angel

Jamie Little

Jamie Little

karen tracey

I was hit by a teenage driver on my way home from work. He and his passenger were only a little banged up but I had to be life flighted. I met Mr. LeFante in my hospital room after surgery. He had been recommended by my insurance agent because a girl in his office had… Read more “karen tracey”

karen tracey

Jennifer MAIER

My family had only lived in Peoria for about 1 year when we needed legal assistance with our home builder. After talking to some friends, we were referred to LeFante Law Offices. This turned out to be a great recommendation. Jim Lefante, Jennifer Anschuetz, and the entire team did a tremendous job handling our case.… Read more “Jennifer MAIER”

Jennifer MAIER
Average of 137 Ratings: 5.0 stars
View All Reviews