A Bismarck man found upside down in a bar's ventilation system in November has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
South Central District Judge Cynthia Feland sentenced Caleb Belile, 26, to five years in prison with all but 18 months suspended and five years of supervised probation. She also ordered him to pay $1,000 in restitution and $525 in court fees.
Bismarck police said a cleaning crew heard someone calling for help in the ceiling over the pool tables at O'Brien's Tavern, 1059 E. Interstate Ave., on Nov. 5. Police responded at 8:13 a.m. and found Belile, of Bismarck, upside down. After about 45 minutes, the firefighters and emergency medical workers were able to free Belile.
Surveillance tape showed Belile crawling into the ventilation system early Monday morning. Police found $5,000 damage to the HVAC unit on the roof of O'Brien's, as well as $2,000 damage to the HVAC unit at the adjoining Hong Kong restaurant. In court, defense attorney Tom Glass said Belile was stuck for nine hours.
“It’s somewhat of a minor miracle he lived through that,” Glass said.
Glass recommended a suspended sentence for Belile, pointing out that his client had decided to make changes for the better in his life after his upside-down experience.
Belile said he never fully committed himself to getting help and changing his life until the November incident.
“This is what it took for me to wake up,” he said.
Burleigh County Assistant State’s Attorney Lloyd Suhr recommended a five year sentence with all but two years suspended.
Feland said she recognized the work Belile has done to turn his life around, but pointed out that he was late to three breath tests for the 24/7 Sobriety Program and has a long criminal history.
“While it appears you’ve made some great strides ... I have to look at the whole picture,” she said.