Three Schaumburg police officers charged with criminal drug conspiracy will face cameras when they go before a judge Thursday to ask for lower bonds.
At a series of hearings Wednesday, DuPage County Judge Blanche Hill Fawell granted extended courtroom access to members of the media. Two of the officers, John Cichy and Terrance O’Brien, objected to the coverage, while a third, Matthew Hudak, did not.
Prosecutors did not object in any of the cases.
The bond reduction hearings mark the first time cameras will be allowed inside a DuPage criminal court for attorney arguments. Earlier coverage has been limited to routine arraignment proceedings, which involve no legal arguments.
Attorneys for Cichy and O’Brien contended Wednesday that allowing cameras in for the proceedings could result in a biased jury.
“Potential jurors in this case would be able to see my client in shackles, as well as a jail uniform,” Cichy attorney Jay Fuller said.
Fawell denied the objections, as well as requests for Cichy and O’Brien to appear in street clothes, saying the point of the coverage is to “show the public how court works.”
“He’s going to be treated like every other defendant,” Fawell told O’Brien attorney Robert Irsuto, adding that in-custody defendants dress according to jail standards for safety reasons.
Cichy, Hudak and O’Brien have asked Fawell to consider reducing their bail. To be released, the defendants currently would have to post full cash bonds of $750,000 each and also prove the money does not come from ill-gotten gains.
In motions for lower bond, all three officers cite strong ties to the community and the presence of family in the area. O’Brien, a 23-year police veteran, is a married father of five with no criminal record, while Hudak, an eight-year veteran, is married with two young children, their attorneys say. Cichy had about five years on the force.
Prosecutors, who sought high bail for the defendants in bond court, are likely to oppose the requests.
In another ruling, Fawell signed an order directing the sheriff’s office to provide Cichy with a fresh uniform and to allow him to shower and shave before his appearance Thursday.
All three officers are segregated from the main jail population for security reasons, but Fuller said his client is even further segregated because of medical needs. As a result, he said, Cichy has been able to bathe only once in the last eight days.
“He wants to appear respectful to the court,” Fuller said.
As members of a special investigations team, the three officers — Cichy, 30; Hudak, 29; and O’Brien, 46 — worked undercover operations involving drugs, gangs and prostitution. They were arrested earlier this month in DuPage County on charges they skimmed drugs from police seizures and used a former informant to sell the drugs.
A fourth co-defendant, Nicole Brehm, 44, of Hoffman Estates, is being held on $150,000 bail on charges her home served as a “stash house” for drugs.
The investigation into the officers began Jan. 2 when police discovered about 9 ounces of cocaine inside a Carol Stream storage shed. That led to a former police informant who said he’d been dealing drugs for three Schaumburg cops who had previously arrested him. Surveillance collected over two weeks showed the officers discussing ripping off dealers and delivering drugs or money to the informant, authorities said.
In the wake of the officers’ arrests nearly two weeks ago, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced a review of drug-related cases of 19 defendants in which the officers were involved. Fifteen of those defendants will have the cases against them dismissed, officials said. Four will move forward.
This week, charges against five such defendants were formally dropped.
On Tuesday prosecutors dropped charges of delivery of a controlled substance against Diangelo Beasley, 25, who was arrested in Arlington Heights in June by the accused officers. Had Beasley been convicted of the class X felony, he would have faced up to 30 years in prison.
Charges also were dropped against Mario Alvarez-Romero, 33, of Schaumburg, who also faced up to 30 years in prison had he been convicted of the most serious charges. As with Beasley, all three officers participated in Alvarez-Romero’s arrest, authorities said.
Three other defendants’ drug charges were dropped Monday.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.