Man convicted of burning down Bad Water Bill's asks to be released into house arrest
By Sally Voth -- email@example.com
HARRISONBURG -- The man who burned down a Strasburg biker bar eight years ago is asking to be let out of prison early.
William Wardell Welebir, a one-time Front Royal resident, says he and his wife have both suffered strokes, and asks U.S. District Judge Samuel G. Wilson in a letter from prison to release him to home confinement, according to online court records.
Welebir was sentenced in May 2010 to five years in prison for the arson of Bad Water Bill's Bar B-Q-Barn.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mott convinced jurors Welebir burned downed the bar/restaurant so he would be accepted by the Pagans Motorcycle Club. The gang was upset that the Titans Motorcycle Club, which is a support club for the Pagans' rivals the Hell's Angels, was having a show at Bad Water Bill's later on the day of the fire, he said.
Bad Water Bill's also figured prominently as a favored haunt of the Warlocks Motorcycle Club in an investigation into that group.
Welebir's letter, filed Wednesday, according to online court records, stated he has had a stroke and been in a wheelchair for almost a year. It says his wife has also had a stroke and is now legally blind.
Welebir writes that he has been in special housing for a good portion of his prison time because he has been assaulted more than once. Additionally, he hasn't had any discipline problems, his letter says.
"Due to my failing health, which I have sought, and am receiving help for, as well as my age, there is no chance I would re-offend, nor engage in any criminal lifestyle or associate with anyone who does," it says.
The letter asks that Wilson agree to Welebir's early release into house arrest with close supervision. This would allow him to collect disability, which would help him pay restitution, it says.
Welebir was ordered to pay Bad Water Bill's owner Mary Fisher $25,600 in restitution.
He asks the judge for mercy.
"Please, your honor, I know that this is an unusual request, but you have the power to grant it, and I have seen the error of my ways," his letter says.
On Friday, Mott said he hadn't yet seen the letter, but would review it and consult with the probation office before deciding on a position to take.