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Man falls through courthouse ceiling
Almaguer, Richard.jpg
Richard Almaguer

A man who tried to climb through a ceiling at Warren County Courthouse in an attempt to snatch the judge’s gavel could end up getting deported for the stunt.

Richard Serna Almaguer, 20, faces a vandalism charge for damage he inflicted to a drop ceiling in a courthouse restroom. He remains held at Warren County Jail and immigration officials have placed a hold on him while they determine his legal status.

The incident took place Wednesday after Almaguer was in court for a violation of probation hearing in the courtroom of Circuit Court Judge Bart Stanley. Almaguer had his case continued until Feb. 27 and was free to leave when he decided to visit a first-floor bathroom on his way out.

What alerted suspicion was the inordinate amount of time Almaguer was in the bathroom. After an estimated three hours, courthouse custodian Michael Martin went to unlock the bathroom door. Upon opening the door, Martin reportedly saw water running in the sink and heard noise above his head before Almaguer fell through the drop ceiling. The commotion prompted courthouse security to respond.

According to the warrant for Almaguer’s arrest, “Deputies D.C. Baker and G.R. Kemper were acting in their roles as courthouse security when they heard yelling, screaming and sounds of a physical altercation coming from the rear of the court building. They followed the sounds to the rear hallway where they discovered building custodian Michael Martin holding the door to the male staff restroom closed. When they arrived, Mr. Martin stepped away from the door and as it opened deputies observed a Hispanic male known to them as Richard Almaguer standing inside surrounded by debris later identified as ceiling material, light fixtures, ventilation materials, and other debris.”

Damage is estimated at more than $1,000. Almaguer reportedly said he had climbed into the ceiling in an attempt to reach the second floor and steal the judge’s gavel. Both courtrooms at the courthouse are on the second floor. It wasn’t specified if Almaguer was trying to snatch the gavel of Judge Stanley or Judge Bill Locke.