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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Suspect arrested after Cloverdale fire

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

A joint investigation by local and federal agencies concluded Friday morning with the arrest of Rick Romandine, 45, Greencastle, on federal charges of arson stemming from a fire that destroyed his restaurant on Nov. 13.

Romandine operated Rick's Steakhouse, 5 S. Main St., Cloverdale. The restaurant was destroyed by fire on Nov. 13. Officials declared the fire an arson on Dec. 19.

Romandine was held in the Vigo County Jail awaiting arraignment.

Putnam County Sheriff Mark Frisbie said officials from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Greencastle Police Dept., Cloverdale Police Dept., State Fire Marshal's office and the Sheriff's Dept. all worked in the investigation.

The length of the investigation was normal for arson cases, said Frisbie and Det. Capt. Mike Biggs.

"There were a lot of people that had to be interviewed," Biggs said.

"Arsons are extremely difficult. They're very difficult to prove," Frisbie added. "I think the time was appropriate for this week. There was a lot of work to be done."

Romandine was arrested shortly after 7 a.m. Friday morning at his residence by officials from the city police, county sheriff's dept. and by United States Marshals.

Romandine was indicted by a grand jury on arson charges on Feb. 28. Frisbie said additional charges could follow.

Both said the investigation centered around Romandine from the beginning.

Frisbie added an unnamed witness came forward recently that led investigators to look closer at Romandine.

"About six weeks ago, a crucial witness came to me with very good information," Frisbie said. "That helped us solidify the case."

There were kinks in the road leading to Friday's arrest, however.

"There was speculation of other involvement," Biggs said.

"You have to weed out the junk," Frisbie said. "We went down quite a few paths."

Investigators interviewed former employees of the restaurant in addition to family members of Romandine.

Investigators learned the business was in financial trouble.

"That is usually motivation in arson," Frisbie said.

He added Romandine has an extensive criminal record and other "questionable" fires in his past.

"That's what caused us to focus on him," Frisbie said.

No local charges have been brought against Romandine yet.

"It's their baby now," Frisbie said.

The fire broke out at the restaurant in the late evening hours of Nov. 13. Firefighters were dispatched to the scene at 11:37 p.m., but the building was engulfed by 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 14.

Firefighters from Belle Union, Jefferson Township, Greencastle, Brazil, Spen-cer, Reelsville, Cloverdale Town and Cloverdale Township Volunteer were dispatched to the scene to help fight the blaze.

No one was injured.

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