Retired teacher who went to prison for starting a fire outside a Chicago bar in 2015 is charged with starting another fire outside the same bar

A retired Chicago teacher who went to prison for starting a fire outside a Northwest Side tavern in 2015 was charged Wednesday with intentionally setting another fire outside the same bar.

Both fires were started near a wooden deck by the rear entrance to Sidekicks, 4424 West Montrose.

Surveillance video from October 14 shows Michael Polvere, 65, walking past the bar and looking into the windows as a handful of patrons enjoyed themselves inside, prosecutors said. The footage shows him picking up a bag of trash and then encountering the bar manager and a customer who stepped outside to smoke.

Michael Polvere is accused of setting fires outside Sidekicks bar in 2017 and again last month. | CPD; Google

Prosecutors said Polvere asked the manager for a smoke, but the bar worker declined, which made Polvere “extremely angry.” Polvere allegedly yelled at the manager while walking away and turning the corner to enter a gangway behind the bar.

Another camera recorded Polvere walking down the gangway and placing the bag of trash under the bar’s electrical meter, not far from a wooden staircase, prosecutors said. He set the bag of trash on fire and walked away.

After the bar manager returned from his smoke break, he saw the fire burning via a video feed and suddenly remembered Polvere from when an identical fire was set in the same spot on November 24, 2015.

The manager ran out the back door and extinguished the fire. Prosecutors said he called the police and told officers that Polvere was responsible for the fire. Chicago cops arrested Polvere at his home this week.

Prosecutors said Polvere received a four-year sentence for setting the previous fire. He also has theft and burglary convictions from 2005. He’s now charged with attempted aggravated arson.

Assistant Public Defender Suzin Farber said Polvere has a college degree and is a retired teacher. She said he has mental health issues.

Judge Charles Beach ordered him to pay a $10,000 deposit toward bail to get out of jail on electronic monitoring.

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