By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — Two men have been formally arraigned on charges of arson connected to a 2016 fire that badly damaged a west side tavern in Wausau.
Robert F. Hernandez, 33, and Tony Patterson Jr., 39. both of Wausau, face felony arson charges in connection with the Aug. 4, 2016 blaze at Cabaret, 204 E. Rib Mountain Drive.
Both men appeared this week at separate hearings in Marathon County Circuit Court. Each entered not guilty pleas and were ordered to stand trial.
On Tuesday, Julianne Lennon, a defense attorney representing Hernandez, asked Circuit Judge LaMont Jacobson to dismiss the charges against her client. That request was denied.
During the investigation into the fire, police interviewed a bartender who reported Patterson had been booted from the bar in July 2016 and had been seen driving past the bar repeatedly in the days leading up to the fire. The car Patterson was riding in was allegedly owned by the girlfriend of Hernandez, police said.
Police said witnesses also came forward who saw Patterson with Hernandez shortly after the blaze began, according to court documents.
The felony arson charge carries a maximum penalty of up to 40 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.
Patterson is being held in the Marathon County Jail on a $5,000 cash bond. Hernandez is free on a signature bond. Both are due in court for a pretrial conference Feb. 2.