A Harvard law school graduate who pleaded guilty to torching a sacred chapel that housed remains of 9/11 victims was back in court yesterday, where a judge ordered him to pay $50,000 for the damage he caused.
Brian Schroeder said he was too drunk to remember sneaking into the chapel on East 30th Street in October and setting the fire. None of the human remains temporarily housed there were affected by the blaze, but photos left behind by grieving family members were destroyed.
The 27-year-old Texas native accepted a no-jail plea deal to the crime. But the city’s Chief Medical Examiner, who is in charge of the remains, said Schroeder, who now lives in New York and works at a nonprofit, caused $180,000 worth of damage.
His attorney, Alan Lewis, argued in court that he can’t afford to pay it all back. Yesterday, a Manhattan Supreme Court judge gave Schroeder a choice: Pay $50,000 by Sept. 21, or do jail time, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Sally Regenhard, whose firefighter son Christian’s remains are housed at the chapel, said Schroeder is merely getting yet another pass. “He got a slap on the wrist,” she said. “I don’t think there’s anyone else who could set a fire and get away with this.”