Cape Girardeau man pleads guilty to office building vandalism

Tuesday, October 23, 2012
Travis Fornkohl

A Cape Girardeau man accused of damaging a local office building pleaded guilty Monday to the crime of first-degree property damage in order to have a burglary charge against him dismissed.

Travis Fornkohl, 32, admitted to Judge Benjamin Lewis at the county courthouse in Jackson that he intentionally damaged private property in June when he entered the Auburn Park Place building through an unsecured door and opened a six-inch water line. In return for that admission, the second-degree burglary charge against him was dropped as part of the plea agreement made between Fornkohl and the Cape Girardeau County prosecutor's office.

Fornkohl has been free on $20,000 bond since July, when authorities were led to him by information from a confidential informant. He reportedly admitted his crimes during police interviewing, and Fornkohl was also seen in a surveillance video taken by the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has an office on the fifth floor of the Auburn Park Place building.

In court, Fornkohl admitted damaging the property, but he told the judge he was on a medication schedule for schizophrenia. When Lewis reminded Fornkohl that he would not be able to raise a claim of mental disease or mental defect by pleading guilty, Fornkohl still adhered to the agreement and didn't withdraw his guilty plea.

When asked by Lewis if he knew what he did was wrong, Fornkohl said that he did.

"It's hard to describe what I felt at the time," he told the judge, "but I know it was wrong."

Lewis said Fornkohl was responsible for about $600,000 worth of damage to the building.

Fornkohl pleaded guilty to first-degree property damage, a Class D felony punishable from one year in the county jail to up to four years in prison. He will be sentenced Nov. 26.

Malcolm Montgomery, who represented Fornkohl, said that the plea agreement he arranged has the advantage of the prosecution remaining silent when it comes to what kind of sentence Fornkohl may receive.

"The way I understand it," Montgomery said, "is that under the terms of the plea deal, the prosecution will not make any recommendations as it concerns my client's sentencing. However, I remain free to argue any sentencing matters on his behalf."

klewis@semissourian.com

388-3635

Pertinent addresses:

100 Court St., Jackson, Mo.

3065 William St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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