OGDEN -- Gregory Rueckert will be leaving Weber County Jail for the George E. Wahlen Veteran Affairs Hospital in Salt Lake City.
He is not headed to the George E. Wahlen Ogden Veterans Nursing Home.
"They're both named for George Wahlen, that's where the confusion starts," said Kelly Snowball, director of the nursing home, referring to Utah's WWII Medal of Honor winner.
Snowball said the veteran's home on 12th West at 1100 North has been flooded with phone calls from relatives of its 100-plus residents after news reports Monday morning on Rueckert's sentencing in Ogden 2nd District Court.
"I've spent two days assuring people, 'No, the naked arsonist is not coming here,'" said Snowball. "I want that veteran to be taken care of, but that's not what we do here."
Rueckert, 65, was sentenced last week to three years' probation on an arson charge for a fire he set while wearing no pants. According to court records he will be released to federal VA officials and a treatment facility at the Salt Lake VA hospital as soon as bed space is available.
Rueckert is a military veteran on disability from a service-related head injury who went off his medication, according to officials who agreed to his plea bargain, dropping the lewdness charge and reducing the arson count to a third-degree felony.
He has been given credit by the judge for time served -- 255 days in custody -- mostly at the state mental hospital, where treatment restored him to legal competency so he could be prosecuted.
Rueckert left a small bag of trash on fire against an apartment door at the Lake Park Apartments, where he lived in Washington Terrace last July 9, according to charging documents. There were no injuries, and damage was minimal.
On Tuesday evening he remained in Weber County Jail. Jim Retallick, his public defender, said his transfer to the Salt Lake facility is expected within the next two weeks. VA officials in Salt Lake could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The mix-up in communication about where Rueckert is to be released came in talking with federal officials in making arrangements for Rueckert, said Jim Retallick, the public defender -- each thinking they were talking about the same facility.
Adding to the confusion was the fact the Wahlen VA Hospital in Salt Lake City, a federal facility, also has a veterans nursing home, state-run, on its campus.
"This just got a little muddied somehow," said Snowball. He personally handled at least 30 complaining phone calls. Snowball said the veteran's home has a six-month waiting list with a 100 names on it. "I got a call today: 'You're letting this guy in ahead of my dad?''
He has had a statement left with the home's receptionist and notified state veterans officials as well as federal VA staffers involved.
"Monday I was angry. This was like getting hit in the side of the head with a shovel. I can't take in felons. It's against the law."
Wahlen died June 5, 2009, after an extended illness, at age 84. He earned the Medal of Honor as a Navy Corpsman at the battle of Iwo Jima, where he is credited with saving countless lives while wounded three times.
President Harry S. Truman presented him with the Medal of Honor in 1945. He later re-enlisted to serve in both the Korean and Vietnam wars.