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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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School vandals recorded rampage
Now they must pay $112,174 for damage to Greco Middle School.
By LETITIA STEIN and COLLEEN JENKINS
Published July 14, 2007
TAMPA - Greco Middle School principal Judith Kennedy felt sickened Friday watching a video released this week of three teens trashing her campus last summer. The boys laughed as they tossed chairs through windows. One flashed thumbs-up for the camera.
"Kids need to know that there are consequences," Kennedy said. "If you commit vandalism, you're going to have to pay for it - forever."
Thanks to Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet, these teens won't soon forget that lesson. They will be paying for the damage to the school for as long as it takes to come up with more than $100,000.
On Father's Day, June 18, 2006, the trio broke windows, smashed computers, tore clocks off walls, discharged fire extinguishers and flooded hallways.
Temple Terrace police spotted the teens running away after the damage was done. They caught Bo Jess Cosens and Michael E. Dunn on school grounds and found the third teen in the area.
His name was not released because he was charged as a juvenile.
Police found Dunn, now 17, with a videocamera that had captured the crime spree.
"It just blows my mind that these kids could do that," Kennedy said, adding incredulously "and videotape themselves."
The state charged Dunn and Cosens, also now 17, with adult felonies of burglary, criminal mischief and grand theft of a fire extinguisher. Kennedy attended their court hearings. She wanted the former Greco students to see her.
Dunn pleaded guilty in November, Cosens in January. Each was sentenced to five years of probation and 100 hours of community service. Sleet withheld adjudication, meaning neither teen will have a conviction on his record.
They will, however, share responsibility for a significant amount of restitution. Court records show they owe $112,174.
If the teens don't pay the restitution during their probationary periods, it will become a lien against them. Prosecutor Debra Bell said the liens will stick until the school is refunded.