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BHS vandals cop plea; receive diversion, bill for damage

“An agreement with the state” has been reached for two former Farragut High School students charged with felony vandalism of Bearden High School property last fall.

One of those “agreements,” worked out with Knox County Attorney General’s office, would allow Mitch Kleiber to avoid jail time and clean his record.

Agreeing to pay his share of monetary restitution for an estimated $4,000 to $5,000 worth of damage to BHS, Kleiber “will be placed on judicial diversion. At the expiration of the diversionary period [without additional brushes with the law], the charges will be dismissed,” said Gregory P. Isaacs, Kleiber’s attorney.

Isaac’s comments came a few hours after he and Kleiber, along with fellow defendant Tyler Crone and his attorney, Mike Nassios, appeared before Judge Tony W. Stansberry in Third General Sessions Felony Court Thursday, June 24.

Nassios told Stansberry “an agreement with the state” had been reached, but declined comment on agreement details or any aspect of his client’s case after the court appearance.

In reference to the agreement, Stansberry said to Crone, “I’ll sign off on it; you’ve got an awful good lawyer, sir.” Crone replied, “Yes sir.”

Kleiber and Crone were bound over to a Grand Jury “as a procedural step that is required” because “Sessions Court does not have jurisdiction to handle a plea in a felony case,” Isaacs said.

Kleiber “has accepted responsibility for this mistake,” Isaacs said, adding that negotiations with the Attorney General’s office “took a lot of compromise.”

Crone and Kleiber, FHS seniors last fall, allegedly joined a 17-year-old juvenile to vandalize BHS property Wednesday night, Oct. 7, 2009, including the school’s Memorial Gardens where deceased former students, military veterans, administrators and teachers are honored.

As of June 21, BHS principal Dr. John Bartlett said his school had not received financial restitution, confirming the damage was between “$4,000 and $5,000.”

However, Bartlett added all damage has been repaired.

“What I’ve been waiting to do is wait for the courts to run their course and they’ll make sure the restitution is made,” Bartlett said. “… I understand how it goes when you have so many people involved, when you have so many attorneys and young people. It is a long process.”

The vandalism took place two days before the annual Admirals-Bulldogs football game was scheduled at BHS.


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