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Park Rapids man arraigned in arson case

The former owner of a Park Rapids glass company has been arraigned in two counties on firebombing charges in what authorities have characterized as long-simmering grudges against his ex-wife and his former workplace.

Leon Dewaine Jenkauski, 50, appeared Monday in Hubbard County District Court on felony charges of arson and manufacturing an incendiary or explosive device.

He was arraigned last week in Cass County on similar charges.

Jenkauski owns a Bemidji glass company called Pane Relief.

On May 20 Park Rapids police officers responded to Belle Taine Glass on Highway 34 after someone had thrown a Molotov cocktail into the business' side window.

Two months earlier, a similar firebomb was thrown at Spitzack Builders in Walker.

Both caused minor damage. They extinguished themselves upon impact, authorities said.

The Hubbard County complaint alleges Jenkauski was upset at the current owners of Belle Taine, maintaining he'd been cheated out of $11,000 of the purchase price.

Investigators found the gas-filled canning jar outside Spitzack Builders. It had only broken an exterior pane of glass. Jenkauski's ex-wife Sandra is married to the owner of that company.

The two were involved in an acrimonious divorce filed in 1994, according to court records.

At the time the couple owned Belle Taine Glass, the complaint states. Jenkauski told authorities he was angry at the Walker company, asserting it owed his son wages.

He allegedly told investigators he mixed gasoline with soap in the jars to maximize the damage inside the buildings.

Soap would cling to the walls, he explained, and would ignite upon contact.

His omnibus hearing in Cass County is Oct. 11. In Hubbard County Judge Robert Tiffany allowed him to continue his release on his own recognizance and set an omnibus hearing for Nov. 22.

He is to have no contact with Belle Taine Glass or its employees.

County Attorney Don Dearstyne's request to prevent Jenkauski from possessing "any accelerants" was denied by Tiffany.

That would prevent him from driving or mowing his lawn, Kenkauski's defense attorney pointed out.

"The state's request is unenforceable," Tiffany said. "It becomes problematic to enforce."

Tiffany also offered to remove himself from the case. While in private practice, he said his firm may have represented the defendant or an adverse party in a civil matter.

"I don't remember him," the judge admitted, but said he would remove himself from the case if either side objected to his presiding over the case.

The felonies are punishable by a maximum of 10 years with an additional fine; $10,000 for the arson charge and $20,000 for the manufacturing charge.

However, even if convicted, Jenkauski, who has no criminal history, would only serve a fraction of the proposed sentence.

He has been involved in numerous civil suits with Belle Taine Glass, other competitors and individuals over the past 15 years.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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