- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

STERLING, Ill. (AP) - A teenager accused of starting a July fire that destroyed much of downtown Prophetstown has pleaded guilty to arson charges.

The Daily Gazette reports (https://bit.ly/1oox9ie) the 17-year-old entered the guilty plea Tuesday in Whiteside County Circuit Court. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors dropped 18 other charges filed against him. Judge Bill McNeal set the boy’s sentencing for April 22.

The teen’s 12-year-old brother pleaded guilty to arson in January and was sentenced to 5 years of probation.

Assistant State’s Attorney Carol Linkowski said the boys indicated to authorities they first set fire to a recycling bin by the library, before starting the fire behind a restaurant. It was that fire that spread, ultimately destroying eight buildings and damaging two others, leaving about half a dozen people homeless.

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