Man gets probation in vandalism at gardens

One of two men suspected of causing several thousand dollars of damage at Western Colorado Botanical Gardens will spend the next four years on probation.

Benjamin Levanduski, 20, of New Jersey, also was sentenced Thursday by District Judge Richard Gurley to a four-year deferred judgment, which means he will avoid felony convictions going on his record if he stays out of trouble over that time period, according to Deputy District Attorney Todd Hildebrandt.

Levanduski pleaded guilty to felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor theft under a plea agreement and was ordered to pay full restitution, plus court costs, and complete 75 hours of public service.

Levanduski had no criminal history, and at the time of his arrest he was a college student at Evergreen State College in Washington, attorneys said Thursday. After his last semester, he decided to “ride the rails” back to his home in New Jersey and ended up in Grand Junction.

Levanduski and a transient, Bradley Dodd, 29, were arrested by Grand Junction police June 14 as suspects in a vandalism spree at a castle structure at Western Colorado Botanical Gardens, 655 Struthers Ave. The castle, which is reserved for events such as children’s birthday parties, had its doors kicked in, and art supplies were smeared across walls, floors and drapes, among other damage. Someone defecated just outside the building, police said. Levanduski and Dodd were arrested that same day.

Dodd is scheduled for a court hearing today.

Hildebrandt said the Mesa County District Attorney has yet to receive a total amount of requested restitution.  Levanduski and Dodd will be ordered to split that cost, he said.


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