Lake County Sheriff pleads guilty to making false statement in a DUI hearing

From the Chicago Tribune (Jim Newton reporting):

A former Lake County sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court charges Wednesday for lying under oath during a misdemeanor DUI hearing last year in Lake County Circuit Court.

As a result of the plea, the state dropped felony perjury charges against 28-year-old Justin Hill, of Kenosha, and he was sentenced to a 90-day jail term that was stayed as long as he completes other conditions of his sentence.

Hill also was sentenced to a period of conditional discharge during which he must perform 100 hours of community service, pay a $500 fine and donate $500 to Lake County CrimeStoppers.

The sentence was handed down by Kane County Judge David Kliment after Lake County judges recused themselves from the case because the charges stemmed from proceedings in Lake County Circuit Court.

According to prosecutors, Hill was charged for lying under oath while he was being cross-examined by the defendant in the misdemeanor DUI case, in which the defendant was acting as his own attorney.

Defense attorney Thomas Briscoe said after the plea deal that Hill admitted he lied about whether he had contacted or attempted to contact the defendant in the case prior to the DUI hearing.

Briscoe said that Hill maintains he lied to protect an informant or informants related to another case he was doing on his own without the knowledge of the Lake County sheriff’s office.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Sgt. Christopher Covelli said Wednesday that Hill’s position as a deputy was terminated June 2

…Sheriff’s office officials said inconsistencies were allegedly discovered in Hill’s testimony during a Nov. 2 civil court DUI hearing on the potential statutory summary suspension of a DUI defendant’s driving license….

Read the entire story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-lake-deputy-perjury-plea-st-0914-20170913-story.html

Lake County, IL to have fine amnesty week beginning July 17

From the Daily Herald:

Drivers with unpaid fines and court costs from traffic violations in Lake County will get a financial break — and perhaps a return of their driving privileges — when county officials offer a one-week amnesty next month.

Dubbed “Operation Green Light,” the program will allow fined drivers to avoid collection fees and interest if they pay their original costs between July 17 and July 21. Payments can be made over the phone or at courthouses in Waukegan, Mundelein, Park City and Round Lake Beach.

“I understand that fines can become costly, especially when older fines incur collection agency fees and accrue interest,” Lake County Circuit Clerk Erin Cartwright Weinstein said Monday in an announcement of the amnesty week.

“The point of Operation Green Light is to help people clear up their financial obligations and get back on the road.”

Lake Co. Sheriff charged with perjury for testimony in DUI case

From the Chicago Tribune (reported by Jim Newton):

Deputy Sheriff Justin Hill, 28, of Kenosha, was indicted by a Lake County grand jury Wednesday on three felony counts of perjury, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office…

According to Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Sheriff’s Office, inconsistencies were allegedly discovered in Hill’s testimony during a court hearing on the potential statutory summary suspension of a DUI defendant’s driver’s license. The testimony was allegedly given by Hill on Nov. 2.

Covelli and Jim Elliot, deputy chief of the Sheriff’s Office of Professional Standards, said the Sheriff’s Office is working with the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office to determine whether any other cases in which Hill was involved could be impacted.

According to Elliot, each DUI case in which Hill was the arresting officer or was involved would be reviewed individually, and the State’s Attorney’s Office would decide whether each case would move forward based on all evidence involved.

Elliot said he does not believe there will be any blanket dismissal of cases in which Hill was involved. He added that he was unsure how many cases were to be reviewed.

A spokesperson for the State’s Attorney’s Office said Wednesday the number of cases was not immediately available, but would soon be released.

Following the Nov. 2 hearing, the Sheriff’s Office was notified Nov. 23 that “inconsistencies with Hill’s testimony (that) potentially resulted in perjury” had been discovered, according to Covelli.

Hill was placed on administrative leave and relieved of his police powers following an investigation by the Office of Professional Standards, Covelli said.

Expect Heightened DUI Patrols Super Bowl Weekend

Police reports are gearing up for an expected uptick of drunk drivers this weekend.

From the Chicago Police:

The Chicago Police Department is conducting DUI Saturation Patrols in the Wentworth (2nd) and Near West (12th) Districts this weekend. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Wentworth (2nd) District will commence at 7:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3, 2017 and end at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017. The DUI Saturation Patrol in the Near West (12th) District will begin at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 4, 2017 and end at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, February 5, 2017.
The Illinois State Police will be out in force as well:

The Illinois State Police Department says they are increasing patrols for super bowl weekend to crack down on drunk drivers.

State troopers will also be on the lookout for speeding seat belts and distracted driving.

Public safety officer Sean Ramsey says you won’t just see state police out on the highway.

“We can be on the interstate, state routes, in town,” Illinois State Police Trooper Sean Ramsey said. “So really they have the latitude to go where they want. Where they think that these violations may be occurring.”

The Cook County Sheriff has also announced that it will be conducting heightened efforts:

Cook County Sheriff’s Police are scheduled to conduct enhanced patrols this weekend, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

Sheriff’s Police are conducting countywide DUI enforcement patrols today, Saturday and Sunday nights. They will also be on the lookout for those violating seatbelt laws, today, Saturday and Monday.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will conduct special traffic patrols this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on alcohol-impaired drivers, drug-impaired drivers, and those not wearing their seatbelts.

Buffalo Grove police will be out in force this Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on seat belt law violators and alcohol and drug-impaired drivers.

Department officials announced the beefed up patrol efforts last week, reminding residents, “If you plan on drinking alcohol while cheering on your team, pass your keys to a sober driver before the Super Bowl party begins.”

The initiative coincides with the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.

Other police departments will be out as well.  Please be safe and don’t drink and drive!

Not everyone gets 10 days in jail for DUI fatal accidents

The ten day jail sentence that Ryne San Hamel received last week for the drunk driving crash that killed Bobby Cann has sparked outrage (Click here to read the Sun-Times’ editorial).

But don’t think that everyone who drives drunk and kills someone gets a slap on the wrist.

Here is another recent case that had a very different result.  From the Chicago Tribune:

A Mundelein woman was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison Tuesday for the death of a 22-year-old man in an early morning drunken driving crash in Libertyville.

Amanda Auld, 24, was sentenced after pleading guilty last year to one count of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in a death.

Killed in the crash was Steven Daskaukas, a passenger in Auld’s car when she struck the back of a truck at the intersection of Peterson and Harris roads in Libertyville at 2:43 a.m. on March 7, 2015.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Patricia Fix said she was particularly struck by reports that Auld’s friends, following in another car, had been calling Auld and Daskaukas on mobile phones in an attempt to stop the woman from continuing to drive.

Fix noted that Auld was speeding, leaving the second car unable to catch up with her.

Auld admitted in a statement to the court that she and her friends had been drinking heavily at two bars and had left a bar in Fox Lake when the crash occurred.

Auld apologized to Daskaukas’ family, saying she knew no words would make up for the loss, but that he had been her best friend and that “living through that accident is my very own life sentence.”

“You will never know what it’s like to watch your best friend die and walk away unharmed,” she said.

Auld said she takes “full responsibility for the part I played” in the crash, but also asked for a probationary sentence that would allow her to go into a formal treatment program to battle long-term alcohol, substance abuse and mental health issues.

But Assistant State’s Attorney Dan Brown said Auld had been given supervisory sentences in the past that were to involve treatment programs and she failed to complete them.

Fix also noted that point in handing down the sentence, saying that although Auld had begun treatment programs and courses while in jail, it was hard not to believe her plea for treatment was an attempt to avoid prison.

Auld’s sentencing followed her guilty plea to the charge in a negotiated deal in which other charges were dismissed, including reckless homicide, and a cap of eight years was put on the sentence she would receive. Without the cap, she would have faced up to 14 years in prison, or probation if the judge found that the case included extraordinary circumstances.

Read the whole story here:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/lake-county-news-sun/crime/ct-lns-dui-death-sentencing-st-0201-20170131-story.html

Alleged Drunk Driver crashes into Lake Cty Sheriff’s Squad

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A 67-year-old man was charged with DUI after he crashed into a Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy squad car early Monday in north suburban Beach Park.

Gregory G. Fowler, of the 38700 block of North Sheridan Road in Beach Park, was charged with a misdemeanor count of DUI and cited for failing to yield, according to a statement from the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

At 2 a.m., the deputy was driving northbound on Sheridan Road approaching West Chaney Avenue in Beach Park, and Fowler was driving a 2001 Ford SUV headed southbound on Sheridan Road in the same area. Fowler made a left turn into the Beach Mobile Home Park directly in front of the sheriff’s squad car and the two cars crashed, police said.

No one was hurt in the crash.

Fowler was being held in the Lake County Jail on a $3,000 bond as of Monday afternoon.

25 year old Mundelein Trustee Arrested for DUI

dakotahFrom the Pioneer Press, story by Rick Kambic:

Mundelein Village Trustee Dakotah Norton was charged over the weekend with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to police — which is now his second criminal charge since 2007.

Vernon Hills police stopped Norton, 25, of the 100 block of Racine Place, Mundelein, at 11:15 p.m. Sunday, after police said they saw erratic driving.

According to police reports, officers saw Norton’s car driving in the middle of both southbound Butterfield Road lanes after turning off Allanson Road.

Police said Norton’s car swerved to the right in order to pass another vehicle and then swerved to left to resume its original position.

Even though the light was red, he then made a left turn from Butterfield Road onto eastbound Townline Road, according to police.

Upon stopping him a few blocks later, police noticed the odor of alcohol on Norton’s breath and decided to conduct a field sobriety test, which he failed, reports show.

“I’d like to apologize to anyone I could have hurt while I was on the road, I’d like to apologize to the Village of Mundelein for the damage this arrest will cause to our reputation, and I’d like to apologize to everyone who believed in my mission when I ran for office,” Norton said on June 17.

He secured the third open seat on the Mundelein Village Board when he collected more than 25 percent of the votes during the April 7 municipal election. He was sworn into office on May 11 and has served in two meetings so far.

Norton said he was at home casually drinking with some friends the night of June 14 when he decided to get some groceries from the Wal-Mart in Vernon Hills.

“I don’t think I was a danger to anyone, but it was a lack of judgment to even risk it,” Norton said. “It was wrong; I should have asked someone else to drive or not left the house at all.”

“I think it’s important to not hide this, but I also don’t want it to detract from the goals and issues I’m working toward on behalf of the Mundelein taxpayers,” Norton said.

Mayor Steve Lentz said he’s aware of the situation and has no plans to conduct a hearing or investigation.

“I spoke with Dakotah and he was very apologetic toward me and the village. He then described his plans for correcting his behavior,” Lentz said. “I walked away from the conversation feeling satisfied. I believe he was being very sincere with his apology and with the plans he laid before me.”

Norton is scheduled in court July 15. However, the DUI charge is not Norton’s first encounter with police.

Court records show that Norton was charged with delivery of marijuana in November 2007, according to Cynthia Vargas, a spokesperson for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Norton pleaded guilty, according to court records, and was given 24 months of probation and 100 hours of community service; he was also required to complete a treatment program.

His probation fell under an Illinois law pertaining to first-time drug offenders, which allows courts to withhold judgment and sentence an offender to probation. If the probation is successfully completed, the court may dismiss the charges.

Norton successfully completed his probation, according to Vargas.

When asked about the arrest, Norton said he was a teenager at the time and that he was experimenting and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“I was making some bad decisions back then, but I don’t think they were devastating or dangerous,” Norton said. “That arrest taught me that actions have consequences, and I haven’t had any run-ins with the law since then. But now my bad decision on Sunday discredits all that growth I went through these past eight years.”

Read the whole story here at:  http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/mundelein/news/ct-mun-dakotah-norton-dui-tl-0625-20150617-story.html (behind the Tribune’s paywall)