Oscar Yocundo Cruz entered a change of plea in the Lovelock arson case.
Oscar Yocundo Cruz entered a change of plea in the Lovelock arson case.
It’s been nearly a year since an arson fire destroyed three Lovelock businesses in the pre-dawn hours of Nov. 17, 2019. Main Street still bears the scar, an eyesore of piled rubble and debris.

Oscar Yocundo Cruz has been in jail since his Feb. 2020 arrest, after a three-month investigation by State Fire Marshal Joel Martin. At his earlier court hearings, Cruz, 24, pleaded not guilty. On Wednesday, Sept. 9, he changed his plea to guilty.   

Cruz faces sentencing on multiple counts of arson and conspiracy to commit arson.

The three counts of first-degree arson, a category B felony, involve the burning of three structures – a bookstore, bar and former law office. 

Judge Jim Shirley sentences Cruz on Monday, Nov. 16.

Joshua Roland Remillong, 38, came to court for a sentencing hearing. At his arraignment, the defendant pleaded guilty to home invasion, a category B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. 

Remillong admits to breaking through the front door of an occupied Lovelock home on Mar. 15, 2020.

Judge Shirley gave the defendant a suspended sentence of 12 – 48 months.  He’ll serve three years probation, spend two weekends a month in the Pershing County Jail and pay $336 restitution.

Burning Man Day at the 11th Judicial

Six defendants came to the 11th Judicial Court on Friday, Sept. 11. Across town, the Lovelock Colony Police Department and the Lovelock Volunteer Fire Department observed the anniversary of the NY World Trade Center attacks. 

Most of the defendants wore suits and ties and traveled to court from California. One came from Twin Falls, Idaho, a five-hour drive. Some may have to quarantine for 14 days when they get home. Their ages ranged from the mid-twenties to early forties.

They retained either John Routsis, from Reno, or Michael Castillo, from Las Vegas, to defend them on charges of possessing controlled substances at Burning Man last summer. Each pleaded guilty to a Category E felony except for a British man who pleaded no-contest to avoid potential problems with immigration.

The substances included cocaine and MDMA (Ecstasy). In each instance, DDA Todd Banks recommended probation and participation in the Pershing County Out-of-State Drug Court Program. 

DDA Banks noted that before their arrests, each defendant had little to no criminal record. He also said that recent changes to Nevada law qualified them for mandatory probation.

With one exception, the judge found each defendant eligible for diversion and placed them on probation for 364 days. One defendant agreed to get a substance abuse evaluation and return for her eligibility hearing on Dec. 7.

The judge reminded the defendants they’ll have to pay their way through the diversion program and that it’s more demanding than regular probation. However, if they complete it, they may withdraw their guilty pleas and start with clean slates. If they fail, they could face sentencing, but under the new laws, may still withdraw their pleas.

During their probation, each must abstain from alcohol, marijuana and controlled substances as evidenced by random urinalysis. Some have already begun the program and spoke well of its benefits.

“I’ve been using substances since I was 16 or 18 to run away from negative thoughts and feelings,” said one defendant, now in his early thirties with an advanced degree in engineering. “This has been a great learning opportunity.”