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Former employee gets 15 years for arson at crowded store

Published: Thursday, May 29, 2014 4:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, May 30, 2014 6:51 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A former grocery store employee received the maximum prison sentence after admitting he threw a Molotov cocktail into a crowded Algonquin grocery store.

Fabian Torres, 27, of Sleepy Hollow, pleaded guilty but mentally ill Thursday to attempted aggravated arson and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

After Torres threw a lit incendiary device, customers – including an off-duty Carpentersville police officer – chased him out of Joe Caputo & Sons Fruit Market and detained him in the parking lot until police arrived, authorities have said.

According to McHenry County Assistant State’s Attorney Dave Johnston, Torres had been fired from or quit the grocery store about a month before the Aug. 21, 2011, incident.

He had worked at the market for just under a year.

Prosecutors agreed to reduce Torres’ charge to attempted aggravated arson in exchange for his guilty plea and 15-year prison sentence. McHenry County Judge Michael Feetterer approved the plea deal.

While not a legal defense, a psychologist’s report found that Torres was mentally ill at the time he threw the lit glass bottle filled with flammable liquid toward shoppers and store employees.

“Everybody’s in agreement that he had acted in part because of mental illness,” Johnston said.

Torres initially was charged with a Class X felony, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison.

Johnston said there were “dozens” of people in the store at the time, which was just after noon on a Sunday, but no one was seriously injured. One man complained of a mild burn on his legs and was treated and released at the scene.

Torres has been in custody at the McHenry County Jail on $2 million bond since his arrest. He will receive credit for time he already served in custody, and is eligible for day-for-day credit, meaning he could be released in about five years.

Torres also was ordered to pay $9,238.55 in restitution to the grocery store for damaging the floor where the he threw the incendiary device.

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