Authorities say Gordon Vanderark offered $70,000 for the murders of a prosecutor and the judge who put him behind bars, but there was one caveat: "I want them to suffer."
The former Wheaton man, imprisoned for his 10th DUI, was charged Wednesday in a far-reaching murder plot that prosecutors said targeted his ex-wife, a man who has his power of attorney, and DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell and Assistant State's Attorney Audrey Anderson.
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State's Attorney Robert Berlin said Vanderark, 53, solicited the murders through a fellow inmate who in turn wrote a letter warning Fawell her life was in danger.
He said the inmate subsequently wore a wire and recorded Vanderark discussing the plan in graphic detail. In one conversation, Vanderark said he didn't care if his children were present for the murder of his ex-wife, Berlin said.
He also gave a message for the would-be killer to deliver to the court officials: "This is from all the people you (expletive) over," according to the allegations.
Fawell sentenced Vanderark last December to 18 years for his 10th drunken driving conviction, a case prosecuted by Anderson, Berlin said. Fawell later reduced the sentence to 16 years after Vanderark petitioned her to reconsider.
Once Vanderark was in prison, Berlin said, he compiled a "hit list" naming the foursome he wanted killed and propositioned the unnamed fellow inmate.
Investigators also uncovered a letter in which Vanderark said he would pay $2,000 upfront and included a $70,000 promissory note for "services rendered" by the inmate upon his release from prison, Berlin said.
"The defendant stated he was not going to back out," Berlin said.
Prosecutors said records show that a man acting as Vanderark's power of attorney transferred money into the commissary accounts of both the defendant and the other inmate, who received about $2,000, between January and April.
Authorities said they were still investigating possible motives behind the inclusion of Vanderark's power of attorney representative in the alleged hit list.
In addition to 10 DUIs, Berlin said, Vanderark's prior criminal record includes theft, burglary and several forgery cases. State records show he was slated for parole from downstate Centralia Correctional Center in July 2020.
At a bond hearing Wednesday, Judge Michael Wolfe found Vanderark posed a "real and present threat" and signed an order allowing the sheriff to limit his communication with people other than his own legal counsel while jailed and awaiting trial.
Vanderark appeared in court wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him. He spoke only once, to tell the judge he would not request bond because he's already in prison and "it doesn't matter if there's a bond or not."
Berlin called the charges "extremely serious."
"Any attempt, or perceived attempt, to bring physical harm to another individual, regardless of their position in society, will be met by the full force of the law," he said.
Vanderark returns to court next month.