Second suspect pleads guilty in Cudahy plant fire

by MEAT&POULTRY Staff
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MILWAUKEE — Last week a man accused of launching a military flare that touched off a fire at the Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant complex in Cudahy, Wis. pleaded guilty to a felony charge of endangering public safety, according to The Associated Press. His brother, 23-year-old Joshua J. Popp of Milwaukee, already pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless endangerment in a similar agreement. He will be sentenced Oct. 8. The fire, which broke out in early July, caused an estimated $50 million in damages and forced the plant to temporarily shut down.

Prosecutors said Joshua Popp acquired the flare approximately two years ago when he was in the U.S. Marine Corps and gave it to his brother, who fired it in the air July 5.The flare landed on a roof of the Cudahy meatpacking plant. Four buildings at the complex were destroyed by the blaze.

Kurtis J. Popp, 25, of Milwaukee was initially charged with second-degree reckless endangerment. But prosecutors amended the charge to being party to the crime, which doesn't change the maximum penalty but makes it easier to prove guilt. In exchange for Mr. Popp's guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of up to a year in jail, three years probation and community service. They would also recommend a prison sentence be imposed and stayed, meaning he would only serve the prison time if he violated the terms of his probation.

Mr. Popp faced a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 26.

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