WEWOKA — A 52-year-old Wewoka man, previously sentenced to one year in jail and $500 for violating the statewide burn ban, appeared in court Tuesday and learned his sentence has been modified.

Seminole County Judge Gayla Arnold upheld her original sentence of one year in jail for Venezuelan native Inaky G. "Nicky" Markevitch, but ordered all time suspended except jail time already served. Additionally, Markevitch is ordered to pay the maximum fine of $500 and complete 100 hours of community service with a local fire department. Markevitch will also be supervised throughout the duration of his sentence by the District Attorney's office.

Records indicate Markevitch was ticketed by a Seminole County deputy in late December for violating the statewide burn. Markevitch's offense came one day after wildfires devastated hundreds of acres of Seminole County.

Markevitch, a 20-year-United States resident, was reportedly burning trash in a barrel outside his car dealership. Markevitch maintains the fire accidentally ignited when he picked up a piece of hot metal from the welding area in his shop and placed it into a 55-gallon drum containing discarded tree limbs.

Markevitch pleaded guilty to his charge Jan. 3, believing he was paying a ticket. Instead of the fine Markevitch expected, the judge ordered him to serve one year in the county jail and a $500 fine, the maximum penalty. Markevitch was immediately committed to the county jail on the misdemeanor offense.

After Markevitch posted bond Jan. 6 he hired an attorney and filed a motion to withdraw his guilty plea. At a Jan. 17 hearing, Arnold approved a motion to modify Markevitch's sentence and ordered prosecutor Paul Smith and Markevitch's attorney, Rob Pyron, to submit briefs recommending appropriate punishment.

Markevitch remained free on an appeal bond pending Tuesday's hearing. Arnold said Markevitch's cash bond and appeal bond were exonerated.

"We felt the judge acted appropriately today as far as reducing the sentence and counting the time he's already served," Markevitch's wife, Susan Dethman said.

"I've said all along, ignorance of the law is not an excuse, but he didn't understand that putting the pipe in the barrel was a violation," Dethman said. "There needs to be more information provided in non-English literature, especially within the Latino community. We, Oklahoma, need to step up to the plate and do that."

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