Lenny Wilkinson didn’t expect David McArtor would be out of prison before Wilkinson had his new remodeling shop up and running.
McArtor was serving 25 years in prison when Scott County District Judge Henry Latham suspended the sentence last week and put the 32-year-old Bettendorf man on probation.
“He has a debt to pay first,” Wilkinson said Tuesday, working out of a large storage garage in Eldridge. “Less than a year in prison, that’s just not right.”
McArtor was charged last year with causing a meth lab fire that burned down Wilkinson’s home repair business in Bettendorf. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced earlier this year.
After serving more than six months behind bars, Latham placed McArtor on four years of probation through Scott County’s drug court program.
“The drug court program is the most intensive form of probation,” Latham told the Quad-City Times.
As terms of his probation, McArtor is required to appear in court weekly at first, which gradually lessens as the participant completes various levels of the program, Latham said. McArtor also is under a nightly curfew call, required attendance at least three times weekly at an Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meeting, random and frequent drug testing and successful completion of the Salvation Army intensive rehabilitation program.
At certain stages in the program, the participant is required to become employed and begin making regular payments toward any restitution, Latham said.
“Drug court has proven to save thousands of dollars in costs of incarcerating individuals,” Latham said. “Additionally, drug court has recovered thousands of dollars in restitution that would have gone unpaid if the individuals had remained incarcerated.”
McArtor owes $11,989 in restitution, including $8,000 to Bettendorf Home Repair, Wilkinson’s business.
McArtor and his co-defendants caused about $325,000 in damage to Wilkinson’s four large storage units at 3221 State St.
McArtor’s father’s construction company leased a neighboring storage unit that caught fire Aug. 26, 2013, while McArtor and others were cooking meth. An investigation also uncovered a second methamphetamine production site in a field at Middle Road and Indiana Avenue in Bettendorf, resulting in the second manufacturing methamphetamine charge against McArtor.
McArtor pleaded guilty earlier this year to second-degree arson, two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, conspiracy to commit a forcible felony and sponsoring a gathering for use of controlled substances.
Wilkinson recovered about half the damage amount through insurance and bought a new location at 1142 E. Price St., Eldridge. He said he has spent every weekend for months trying to replicate his old location with a shop, bay area and a classroom while maintaining a steady flow of contracting work through the normal work week.
He is cutting costs where he can. He bought new storage racks “dirt cheap” from American, which was going out of business. He lucked out on the shelves for his racks. The 2-inch by 6-inch studs came from old Home Depot displays that were pulled apart and given away for free.
Trying to beat the cold weather, Wilkinson thinks he has another three or four weekends of work to complete his shop.
Wilkinson respects Scott County’s drug court program but doesn’t think McArtor was a good candidate.
“He didn’t have a drug problem,” Wilkinson said. “He had a money problem.”