Local Bar Owner Enters Plea


Fire at T-Bones October 2012

Fire at T-Bones October 2012

The owner of T-Bone’s Sports Bar and Grill in Hays pleads no contest to aggravated arson for a fire that heavily damaged the popular bar and heavily damaged six other businesses last October.

Benjamin Michael Butler entered the plea Tuesday in Ellis County District Court.

Investigators say the blaze apparently started after Butler left a candle burning when he left the business.

Based on the state’s sentencing guidelines, “Mike” Butler likely will be sentenced to two year’s probation under the supervision of community corrections and to make restitution of nearly $350,000 to six other businesses damaged by the October 9th fire in the Centennial Shopping Center.

Surveillance video showed a person enter and leave T-Bones prior to the fire being reported. That person was wearing clothing similar to what Butler had on when he arrived at the fire scene.

  • chris

    how much did he pay to get such a light sentence.

    • hmmmmm

      WOW only 2 yrs probation for burning down a buisness, in an apparent attempt to collect insurance money. The justice system working at its best.

  • PhotoByHusband

    Moral of the story, disconnect the surveillance system BEFORE igniting your business.

    • passin threw

      pretty sure it was nextechs surveillance system and messing with the system didn’t really work so well for aaron hernandez

  • CTD

    slap on the wrist, what a joke!!

  • hmmm??

    Mike Butler deserves to go to prison. What he did to himself, his family, friends and to the other businesses is absolutely ridiculous. If I was him I would move away where no one knows him and save his family from the embarrassment he has caused them. What a piece of work!!!!

  • Hmmmmmm

    Would have gotten more time if he just threw rocks through windows or trashed the building. Is this a felony? Just tell him not to do it again and go to TIMEOUT.

  • Frank


  • Dumb

    Should have sprinkled some weed on the burnt remains, could have been locked up for years behind that..

  • inkslinger

    ah trying to do the same as the old owner of McGreevy’s in hill city, and in hays, Rockets, and the car dealership, ARSON IS AGAINST THE LAW PEOPLE

    • Uncle Thomas

      Arson is only against the law if you are caught! If you are caught in Ellis County you can always plea! We simply do not have enough atty’s in the county atty’s office to prosecute everyone…hirer more…more…more attorneys and staff to do nothing!

      • lostinhays

        True that ellis county can not convict anyone. Drees should be fired. Do not vote fot his pondwater actions

  • lol

    Probation for agg arson! You have got to be kidding. What wpold CA office do with muder charges? Pleed it down to jay walking?

    • lostinhays

      CA office is junk

  • State Guidelines

    For those of you dissatisfied with the potential sentence, please re-read the article. It has nothing to do with the county attorney or how the case has been handled. It is based on “state sentencing guidelines” and therefore is likely that the convicted individual will receive probation and be required to make restitution. Even if local officials wished to pursue a prison sentence, it would most likely be overturned because it does not follow state guidelines. Every crime, based on specific criteria, has a sentencing guideline. In many cases, it may not seem appropriate or fair. Regardless, it’s state law, not a county decision that drives the outcome. If you think it’s wrong, then contact your state representatives about changing the guidelines.

    • hmmmm

      What does this law say about endangering the people that were in the other buildings surrounding the bar that he lit on fire. If the Hays fired dept did not do such a good job, this could have very easily injured others, and/or destroyed all the buildings in that complex. He should be chagred with endangering others as well.


    • http://hayspost Not litigious

      It is called a plea agreement. The County Attorney does not have to agree to the plea deal, and instead can choose to prosecute and continue this case to trial. Nice try at deflection of the facts though.

      • State Guidelines

        No deflection at all. Pleading “no contest” or nolo contendre is an admission of guilt. The state sentencing guidelines then go into effect. He saved the county a bucket load of money by avoiding trial.

        • Frank

          Pleading no contest is NOT in any way, shape, or form an admission of guilt!