Two Penn State students were convicted Wednesday of setting fire to an athletic equipment shed while they were on the university rugby team after they became frustrated with their coach.
After a two-day trial before Judge David Grine, a jury found Christopher Petri and Sean Herbert, both 22, guilty of burning down the shed and its contents in the early hours of Jan. 14.
Petri and Herbert reportedly were angry with rugby coach Don Ferrell over playing time, road trip expenses and their perception that he gave favored players special treatment. On the night of the incident, according to the charges, the players left a party at a residence called the Rugby House on Patterson Street in State College, obtained a bottle of lighter fluid and went to the rugby team shed.
The jury concluded that Petri and Herbert, as charged, pulled a tackling pad to the front of the wooden shed, sprayed it with the lighter fluid and set it on fire, the flames eventually destroying the shed and an adjoining shed for the cross-country team, causing more than $30,000 worth of damage.
After the students were charged with the fire, Penn State suspended the men’s rugby program in March but reinstated it the next month. Ferrell resigned shortly afterward.
Petri and Herbert both were found guilty of one felony count each of reckless burning, possession of incendiary material and criminal mischief, and three felony counts of criminal conspiracy, while being acquitted of one count of arson and one count of criminal conspiracy.
A sentencing date is pending.