Teen’s troubles cost grandparents $20,000 — (Wausau Daily Herald)

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Wausau Daily Herald

Wed, May 7, 2003

By Jessica Bock, jbock@wdhprint.com

Teen’s trouble with law put $130,000 at risk

Jack and Ora Monegar told a judge Tuesday they slept in shifts so one of them could keep an eye on their teenage grandson at all times.

The Ringle couple begged and borrowed to come up with the first $30,000 to get Jason N. Hopinka out of jail in March 2002 after he was accused of arson. Then, after he was accused of another arson in June, they scrambled to come up with another $100,000 for bail so they could keep him under their watch.

“We tried as best as we could,” Jack Monegar said during a Marathon County Circuit Court hearing as he fought to keep from losing the $130,000 altogether.

After hearing testimony from the Monegars and a clinical psychologist, Assistant District Attorney Lamont Jacobson came to an agreement with Hopinka’s attorney and asked the court to keep only $20,000.
Police say Hopinka, 19, violated his bond agreement when he set eight fires in Marathon County and Michigan, all while free on the bonds posted by his grandparents. Since July, Marathon County judges have been cracking down on delinquent defendants who have missed court appearances or committed new crimes.
The Monegars borrowed $50,000 from a bank and about $80,000 from family members and friends to bail out their grandson, who had lived with them since he was 15 months old.

The grandparents told Judge Greg Grau and prosecutors that while out of jail on bond, Hopinka was with one of them at all times.
“We would take turns sleeping,” Jack Monegar said.
They also saw that he kept his appointments with two different counselors and took medication for attention-deficit disorder and hyperactivity.

On two different dates in December, the Monegars called police and told officers they wanted to revoke the bond they posted. On Dec. 9, the couple called police because Hopinka had told them “he didn’t feel right and might do something,” said Ora Monegar, who told prosecutors and the judge that Hopinka has had emotional problems since age 9.

“He felt he would be better off in jail,” she said.

But because he had not committed a crime, officers could not arrest Hopinka.

“I asked, ‘Why are you going to wait until he does something?” she said.

The grandmother also explained that they posted a $1,000 bond in December because of worries that her estranged daughter, Hopinka’s mother, would try to get him out of jail.

“I had $130,000 at stake and I knew we wouldn’t be able to supervise him,” Ora Monegar said.

Clinical psychologist Michael Galli testified that Hopinka told him there was usually just five minutes between his impulses to start a fire and when he would set them. Hopinka’s medication included anti-depressants and an impulse-control prescription, he said.

Several of Hopinka’s relatives embraced his grandparents after the judge announced the $20,000 forfeiture.
“I think we showed that (Hopinka’s) grandparents did everything they could,” said his attorney, Martin Kohler. “Unfortunately, we have a young man with a lot of mental health issues we’re addressing right now.”
Hopinka has been in the Marathon County Jail on a $1 million cash bond since February.