2 men facing Bath vandalism charges apologize via alternative justice program

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BATH — Two men arrested last December for allegedly vandalizing the former Huse School are trying to atone for their mistakes through the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast.

Daniyil Klimov and Zachary Lambert, both in their early 20s, are performing 176 hours of community service, are making restitution, and have written public letters of apology in the hope that felony charges and prison sentences they could face will be reduced.

In the letter he sent Saturday night, Lambert described the “unwise decision” he and Klimov made Oct. 30, 2014, to enter the vacant school, which is being sold by the city to a private developer. Police arrested the pair Dec. 5, and charged them each with Class C felony burglary and criminal mischief.

Police said they found smashed windows and doors at the Andrews Road building, as well as hundreds of air-soft pellets and Guy Fawkes masks.

Lambert said in his letter that he and Klimov had been drinking, but he “did not damage a single door, window, light fixture, or any other architectural element of that building that night – nor have I ever. My only reason for being in that building was to explore. I didn’t go in there to cause chaos and be destructive. That’s not how I deal with my inner struggles.”

He added that “based on reported evidence, it is almost certain that there were other people who were in that building while Dan and I were there and performed their own acts of vandalism. However, Dan and I were the only ones arrested and charged for the crimes and the only ones who are held responsible to pay the restitution.”

The damage estimate was reduced to $1,700, since the developer buying the building plans to gut it, making full damage repairs moot, Lambert noted.

Lambert agreed to pay restitution “because I am going to do whatever it takes to get this situation behind me and to try to stay out of jail,” he wrote, noting that he and Klimov are “fortunate” that the estimate was reduced.

“As for what I’m still being asked to pay; I could still go to trial and fight it, but I’d rather spend the next year continuing to improve my mind, body, and spirit by giving 176 hours of my time to the community,” he added. “This is all happening through the assistance of the Restorative Justice Project. I now have a chance to work through this situation with a more civil, and personalizable approach as opposed to the cold, mechanical methods of the court system.”

According to material from the project, restorative justice “is a philosophy that guides communities in their response to crime and wrongdoing.” It includes conferencing that brings together the victims and the perpetrators – plus supporters, family and community members – to talk about the incident and to come to an agreement for how the person who caused the harm can take responsibility.

At such a forum on Aug. 20 Lambert and Klimov spoke with members of the City Council, Police Department, Bath Housing, and their own families about what happened, what they have done since, and how they could “make things right,” Lambert said.

He said he plans to work with Bath Housing “to create stylized illustrations of local historic architecture,” and attend at least three City Council meetings to learn more about Bath and find other ways to help. Lambert said he would also like to talk with teenagers about how easily substance abuse can get them in trouble, particularly when mental health is a factor.

In his open letter, Klimov said his actions “have caused harm to the entire city” and he is “truly sorry.”

“One of our city’s main businesses is tourism, so when things like this happen it makes people want to travel here less which negatively affects local shops and restaurants,” he wrote. “It also causes fear in residents, making them possibly want to move somewhere they think is safer. This contributes to the social and economic decline of our city.”

Klimov noted that the developer intending to buy the school visited the building the day after the damage was done, which put pressure on city staff to get the property back in shape.

“Luckily the organization decided to purchase the property despite the vandalism damage,” Klimov wrote. “Had they not then the housing units would not be built, people who need affordable housing would not get it, and the property would continue to sit vacant. I deeply regret that my actions jeopardized this important opportunity for Bath and its residents.”

Klimov added that along with “the harm I have caused to the people of Bath and staff of municipal departments, my family and friends have been hurt deeply by this situation. It kills them to see me make bad decisions. It hurts them to have people make judgments and assumptions about them based on my actions. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all these people burdened by my actions.”

Bath Police Lt. Robert Savory said in an email Monday that although the two men are participating in the program, it is his understanding that they still must go to court, and that the case remains active.

Lambert noted that the community service is “a gamble,” since the court could “decide to discount my efforts and put me back into a position where I’m facing either trial or a sentencing hearing, but I don’t feel that those options are fitting for my situation. Even if I can continue, there’s no guarantee that my felony charges will be dropped or that I’ll avoid prison time upon completing this agreement.

“But I will take this risk and try to make things right with the community of Bath and hope that in the end my actions will be adequate restitution for the harm I have done,” he added. “I feel that most people would agree that a year spent being a helpful member of the community is far more productive than a year (or more) spent in a cell.”

In the months since the incident, Lambert said, he has stopped drinking and smoking marijuana, and has overcome “unipolar disorder and anxiety issues with the aid of pharmaceutical medication. I’m just a really happy person now who has a positive outlook on my life, no matter what happens to me.”

Nadejda Stancioff, restorative services coordinator at the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, said Monday that the organization would meet later this month with the Sagadahoc County assistant attorney, the defense attorneys for Klimov and Lambert, and the judge on the case to see if the men’s time out of prison could be extended long enough for them to fulfill their repair agreements.

Along with the 176 hours of community service, the agreements also include paying the restitution, meeting once a week for at least an hour with a mentor, sending the letters of apology, sitting in on the council meetings, and staying sober, among other items. The agreements are to be completed by Aug. 20, 2016 – one year from the date of last month’s gathering.

“They’re pleading guilty, and completely taking accountability for what they did,” Stancioff said, noting that if both men make a good-faith effort to honor their agreements, the hope is that people will write letters or show up in court in support of them, with a better legal outcome for both men.

If convicted, Lambert and Klimov face five-year jail sentences, with all but two years suspended, Stancioff said. She said Klimov has one child, with twins on the way.

“Both Zach and Dan are taking the opportunity to repair the broken relationship with the city of Bath,” she said.

A light supper and informational session on becoming a mentor with the Restorative Justice Program will be held at the Topsham Public Libray at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1. The rest of the training will follow over the next two Thursdays. Those interested can RSVP to Stancioff at 975-9723, nadejda@rjpmidcoast.org or rjpmidcoast.org.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

The Huse School in Bath, vandalized last October, is to be developed by the Portland-based Szanton Co. Two men charged with the vandalism have expressed apologies through a Mid-Coast restorative justice program.

Zachary Lambert’s letter

To whom it may concern:

Almost a year ago, last Halloween to be exact, Dan Klimov and myself made the unwise decision to enter the vacant Huse school building. Yes, we had been drinking. What started as an impulsive moment of urban exploration quickly transformed into something else. About a month later both Dan and I were arrested by the Bath Police department and over the next few months charged with multiple felonies and $20,000 worth of property damage.

Now, since I’ve been given an opportunity to make a statement and own up to this whole situation, I’m also going to make a few things clear since I may not get another chance to. It’s important to me that I include this information; otherwise I’ll be completely dissatisfied with this letter and will continue to deal with other people’s warped misconceptions about myself due to a lack of information: I did not damage a single door, window, light fixture, or any other architectural element of that building that night–nor have I ever. My only reason for being in that building was to explore. I didn’t go in there to cause chaos and be destructive. That’s not how I deal with my inner struggles. Based on reported evidence, it is almost certain that there were other people who were in that building while Dan and I were there and performed their own acts of vandalism. However, Dan and I were the only ones arrested and charged for the crimes and the only ones who are held responsible to pay the restitution. I’m fine with paying for the damages if that if it keeps me out of jail and helps get put this situation behind me.

Now you may have read that last point and have assumed that it was merely a complaint about myself being undeserving of the situation I find myself in. It wasn’t. Yes, it is unfair how our justice system hasn’t taken everything into account with our case but I’m done playing the victim. I understand that life isn’t fair and that I need to keep moving forward. You may have also assumed that by willingly paying the restitution, which currently sits at approximately $1700, I am admitting that I did indeed go on some sort of “vandalism spree” inside of that building. The reason that I am paying that restitution is because I am going to do whatever it takes to get this situation behind me and to try to stay out of jail. I actually feel very grateful that the restitution is only $1700. The initial damage estimate exceeded $20,000 and was dropped to the current number due to the city’s plan to sell the building to a developer who will be gutting the building, which makes a full damage repair absolutely pointless. In other words, Dan and I are both very fortunate because of this turn of events. As for what I’m still being asked to pay; I could still go to trial and fight it, but I’d rather spend the next year continuing to improve my mind, body, and spirit by giving 176 hours of my time to the community. This is all happening through the assistance of the Restorative Justice Project. I now have a chance to work through this situation with a more civil, and personalizable approach as opposed to the cold, mechanical methods of the court system. Dan and I were able to sit and talk with representatives from city council, the police department, Bath housing, and members of our families on August 20th. We discussed what happened, what we were going through at the time, who was affected, what we’ve been doing since the incident, and what we could do to make things right. When deciding what tasks Dan and I should perform for acceptable restitution, the circle was considerate of our schedules and backgrounds. To make use of my artistic talents, I’ll be working with Bath Housing to create stylized illustrations of local historic architecture, which will be displayed in their homes. I will also attend at least three city council meetings as well to learn more about the city I live in and possibly discover other opportunities for me to aid the city. There are some amazing volunteer opportunities that I am looking into, but will not disclose them until a later time. Reason being, there are many options and I am unsure of which ones I will be undertaking. What I can say about them is that they will involve communicating with teenagers on the dangers of substance abuse, and how easily it can get them into trouble, especially when mental health is part it.

I’m going through with this of my own volition. It’s currently a gamble, for I don’t even know if I’ll be able to continue pursuing this at all. The court may decide to discount my efforts and put me back into a position where I’m facing either trial or a sentencing hearing, but I don’t feel that those options are fitting for my situation. Even if I can continue, there’s no guarantee that my felony charges will be dropped or that I’ll avoid prison time upon completing this agreement. But I will take this risk and try to make things right with the community of Bath and hope that in the end my actions will be adequate restitution for the harm I have done. I feel that most people would agree that a year spent being a helpful member of the community is far more productive than a year (or more) spent in a cell. And that’s not to say that when this next year has passed that I will go back living an unproductive life. In fact, by further integrating myself with the local community it will open doors to new opportunities that I would not have had before.

I can honestly say that this whole situation has already brought a lot of personal growth and I would like to continue that trend. In hindsight, I extremely pleased that I had something like this happen to me. Life threw me into a sink or swim situation through which I’ve been able to do things I would have never seen myself doing. This time last year I really didn’t care too much about anything anymore. I was coasting through life. I’ve brought so much positive out of this negative. Not only have I stopped drinking and smoking weed, I don’t even care for them anymore. I overcame my unipolar disorder and anxiety issues with the aid of pharmaceutical medication. I’m just a really happy person now who has a positive outlook on my life, no matter what happens to me. For those of you that know me, I would appreciate any support you are willing to give as I go through this process. For those of you that don’t, I suggest you abandon any negative preconceptions of me that you may carry. In some ways it would be far easier to right my wrongs by sitting in a cell rather than planning out all of these different tasks, and working with all of these different people throughout the community. It’s quite the undertaking for a twenty three year old, especially for one who hasn’t lived here that long. This is far better way to prove myself than sitting in a prison cell.

In closing, please accept my apology for any disruption I may have caused in your life, or the life of someone you know. Know that I mean well, and that the person I was last Autumn is long gone. If you see me out in public, feel free to approach me. I’m actually a really nice person.

Sincerely,
Zach Lambert

Daniyil Klimov’s letter

To the people of the City of Bath,

My name is Daniyil Klimov, one of the people responsible for the vandalism done to the Huse School last October. I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologize to the people of Bath. My actions have caused harm to the entire city and for this I am truly sorry.

One of our city’s main businesses is tourism, so when things like this happen it makes people want to travel here less which negatively affects local shops and restaurants. It also causes fear in residents, making them possibly want to move somewhere they think is safer. This contributes to the social and economic decline of our city.

The Huse School is being sold to an organization that will turn it into much needed affordable housing for the elderly and disabled. The damage was done on the night prior to the representatives of the organization coming to take a look at the property to decide if they wanted to buy it. The Bath public works department had to get it into the best possible shape in just one day. This put a great deal of unexpected pressure and stress on the staff. Luckily the organization decided to purchase the property despite the vandalism damage. Had they not then the housing units would not be built, people who need affordable housing would not get it, and the property would continue to sit vacant. I deeply regret that my actions jeopardized this important opportunity for Bath and its residents.

Also, significant use of police resources were taken up by the investigation which would have been used for much more important purposes. One officer told me that a good deal of his time, that could have been used to investigate a meth lab, was diverted to the vandalism case I was involved in. This adds to the police budget which could have otherwise been used for much more crucial items. Another effect was that police surveillance increased near the school as the result of the vandalism, thereby taking it away from areas that may have needed it more and slowing down general response time to crimes happening in other areas.

In addition to the harm I have caused to the people of Bath and staff of municipal departments, my family and friends have been hurt deeply by this situation. It kills them to see me make bad decisions. It hurts them to have people make judgments and assumptions about them based on my actions. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to all these people burdened by my actions.

I am truly sorry for all the harm I have caused to all involved. Through the Restorative Justice Project of the Midcoast, I have the opportunity to make amends to the City of Bath and the people affected by my actions. This open letter is the first in a number of steps that I will take over the next year. Others steps include financial restitution, offering many hours of community service to the Bath Housing Authority, and speaking about my experiences to groups of young people. I promise I will do all I can to try to make it up to the community.

Sincerely,
Dan Klimov

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.