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Claremont Church Vandal Pleads Not Guilty to Felony Charges

An update on a story we brought you last month. An 18-year-old Charlestown man charged with vandalizing the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Claremont last month pleaded not guilty to two felony charges Wednesday at the Sullivan County Superior Court.

Zachary Underwood and an unidentified minor were arrested hours after the damage was discovered Aug. 23, and admitted to Claremont Police they broke into the church through a window.

Underwood pleaded not guilty to charges of theft and criminal mischief, which were elevated to felonies due to the extent of the damage. Current estimates have damages exceeding $50,000, as powder from fire extinguishers was found covering nearly everything in the church.

St. Mary’s was closed for two weeks while crews cleaned the building, and reopened September 5.

Underwood remains free on $25,000 bail, pending a trial or plea deal.

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