Fittest loser
Article updated: 1/4/2013 4:51 PM

Guilty plea in W. Dundee DUI chase that injured 3 cops

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A 39-year-old Chicago man has pleaded guilty to leading Carpentersville police on a drunken chase through East and West Dundee that ended after he was rear-ended by a cop car that sent his vehicle crashing into an utility pole and disabled an electrical transformer.

Henry Benjamin III, of the 100 block of Mozart Street, faces between six and 30 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 14 because he had four previous DUIs.

In exchange for the guilty plea to aggravated DUI and aggravated driving while license revoked, both felonies, prosecutors dismissed a host of other charges stemming from the March 13, 2011 chase that injured three officers.

The dismissed charges include: possession of a stolen vehicle; two counts of aggravated battery to a police officer; failure to report an accident; criminal damage to state property; two counts of resisting arrest; aggravated fleeing and eluding; transportation of open alcohol; improper lane use and reckless driving.

Defense attorney Liz Lovig said her client also has agreed to pay nearly $32,000 restitution to West Dundee police for damages to a squad car and injuries to three officers. The case was set for trial Monday, but Lovig said her client was recorded by police video so a conviction on felony charge of driving revoked was assured even if Benjamin was acquitted on other charges. Also, the state could have argued for consecutive sentences on some offenses.

"There's always a risk at trial," she said. "We concluded (taking the state's offer) was the lesser of two evils."

According to prosecutors, Carpentersville police stopped Benjamin at 11:30 p.m. March 12 on Route 25 just south of Lake Marian Road. He refused to give the officer his license and proof of insurance, drove off and dragged the officer a short distance. The chase went through East Dundee before Benjamin, who was headed west on Route 72, crashed into a West Dundee squad car at the intersection at Route 31.

Lovig said a Carpentersville police car then rear ended Benjamin's car, sending it into a utility pole and blowing up an electrical transformer. She said Benjamin's blood alcohol concentration was .161, more than twice the state's legal threshold of .08.

At the time of the arrest, police said three officers were injured in the chase; two were treated and released but prosecutors said one of them is still recovering.

Benjamin entered a "cold plea," meaning he admitted guilt without first agreeing to a prison sentence length. In February, attorneys will argue before Kane County Judge Marmarie Kostelny and she will make the final decision. Benjamin is not eligible for probation because of his previous felony DUI arrests and convictions.

Prosecutors said Benjamin has served time in prison for four previous DUI convictions and has 15 convictions for driving while license revoked as well.

Benjamin has been held on $1 million bail since his arrest more than 660 days ago.

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