Snapchat stunt at cemetery costs Springfield man $4,000 in restitution

June 2, 2015
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Article by Jack Flynn, Mass Live

SPRINGFIELD – In the end, ‘chilling’ on a mausoleum tower at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery cost Jeffrey Pirog a cool $4,000.

Capping a 12-month standoff with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, Pirog agreed Tuesday to pay $4,000 to cover damages from his late night tower-scaling misadventure last May.

In exchange, a judge dismissed charges against the 20-year old Springfield man who acknowledged climbing to the balcony of the Most Holy Redeemer Mausoleum at 2:45 a.m. on May 26, 2014 and posing for a photo with cross illuminated between his legs.

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A few hours later, he sent the photo to his Snapchat followers with the caption “Chillin’ on a church, loving life!”

The next morning, cemetery officials discovered damage to several statues on the mausoleum balcony, along with ventilation caps, rails and other items.

One of Pirog’s Snapchat followers, meanwhile, worked at the cemetery; after receiving the mausoleum photo, he notified his boss.

During a police interview, Pirog admitted climbing the mausoleum tower and damaging some items on the way back down. To avoid criminal charges, he offered to reimburse the cemetery for repairing or replacing the items, according to court documents.

But negotiations between the diocese and Pirog’s lawyer bogged down, and he was charged with trespassing and causing damage to a church, synagogue or cemetery under $5,000.

In Springfield District Court Tuesday, lawyers for both sides told Judge Matthew Shea that an agreement had been reached calling for Pirog to pay $4,000 in restitution, or about half of the diocese’s initial estimate of the damage.

Under the agreement, Pirog must deliver a check for that amount to the office of diocese lawyer Stephen Spelman by Thursday.

The name of the person who took the photo never surfaced in the case; during a police interview, Pirog refused to identify his accomplice.

The photo received 16 ‘likes’ from his Snapchat followers, including one who asked “Did you see God?”

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