Man Accused in Wisconsin Plant Fire Pleads Guilty

September 2, 2009

One of two brothers accused of starting a $50 million fire in July at a Cudahy, Wis., meatpacking plant has pleaded guilty.

Prosecutors say 25-year-old Kurtis Popp fired a military flare July 5 given to him by his brother. The flare landed on a roof at the Patrick Cudahy Inc. meatpacking plant and ignited the fire.

The fire burned for days and 80 percent of the plant’s 1,800 workers were temporarily idled due to the fire.

Popp’s attorney, Julius Kim, says an agreement with prosecutors adds ‘party to’ the crime of second-degree recklessly endangering safety. He says it’s not a lesser offense but acknowledges that Popp didn’t know the flare’s capability. Prosecutors agree to recommend up to a year in the House of Correction, three years probation, community service and a stayed prison sentence.

Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 26.

His 23-year-old brother, Joshua Popp, already pleaded guilty in a similar agreement and will be sentenced Oct. 8.

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