First reported 7/13/2010 1:12 p.m.

A convicted sex offender who lived across from Forest Park village hall is in Cook County Jail, charged with two counts of residential arson in the 3 a.m. fire that last Thursday destroyed 512 Des Plaines.

Frank Corduan, 47, for whom public records most recently show a Cicero address, had lived on the apartment building’s first floor with a woman, believed to be his wife, and her 3-year-old daughter. Forest Park detectives tracked Corduan to a house in a western suburb and arrested him on Friday. He is being held on a $1.5 million bond. 

The fire departments of Maywood, Oak Park, River Forest and Cicero were needed to help control the fire, which took two and a half hours to put out, according to Forest Park Fire Chief Steve Glinke. No human life was lost in the fire. A friend of one tenant told the Review that a cat in the downstairs apartment died.

The building wasn’t occupied at the time of the fire, according to Glinke. The Review has learned that three female college students who lived on the third floor had recently moved out and that the woman and child on the first floor had been staying with relatives. The building’s other tenant works nights, the Review was told.

Police and firefighters arrived at the building, which faces village hall and the firehouse, after callers to 911 reported a “booming” sound and flames shooting out the south side of the building.

According to a police report, officers found the northernmost front window ajar, opened it and then were “met by thick smoke.” They also noticed no vehicles parked either in the building’s two-car garage or in the alley parking space behind. A witness who had called to report the fire approached officers to say that, about half an hour before he saw flames, he was outside smoking and saw Corduan. The witness said Corduan walked from the rear of the building and then entered it through a window.

According to Detective Jarlath Hevelan, Corduan was arrested in Downers Grove, where he was found at the home of a friend. Punishment in Illinois for a conviction of arson – a felony – is a fine of as much as $25,000 and/or four to 15 years in prison.

According Hevelan, he and Detective Nick Petrovic asked the Illinois State Fire Marshal’s office for a K-9 unit to help investigate the cause of the fire. The dog, trained to signal the presence of any accelerant to its handler, did not alert while sniffing the structure. The cause has not yet been determined. It’s described as “suspicious” by the fire department.

The building, which is owned by Chicago resident Chicos Viorel, is in foreclosure. On July 2, a judge approved a sheriff’s sale of the property and an order of possession.

The Review could not reach Viorel, whom the Review has learned recently moved out of the property and may be in Europe.

Village Administrator Tim Gillian said the building’s brick shell appears sound, but that the damaged roof and burned interior have to be dealt with swiftly.

A domestic dispute

Five days before the fire, on July 3, reports from the Forest Park Police Department show that dispatchers got a call for a possible domestic battery at that address. 

At that time, Corduan, a registered sex offender for an assault on an adult, was found in possession of six rounds of 9mm Luger ball-type ammunition. In that incident, Corduan, who could show no FOID card, was accused of punching a woman in the head and telling her “I should f—ing kill you.”

He was briefly detained but, according to police, his accuser “at no time stated she wishes to sign complaints against Corduan,” only that she wanted him not to come back drunk and that she “just didn’t want to be scared anymore.”

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