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Article updated: 6/14/2013 5:09 AM

Vernon Hills man pleads not guilty in hit man hiring case

By Lee Filas

A Vernon Hills man accused of hiring an undercover police officer to kill the mother of a woman he injured in a motorcycle crash pleaded not guilty in Lake County court Thursday.

Jonathan Villasana, 24, of the 0-100 block of Timber Lane, remains held in Lake County jail on $1 million bond on charges of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire.

If found guilty of the most serious charge, Villasana could be sentenced up to 40 years in prison, Lake County Assistant State's Attorney Steve DeRue said.

Villasana was arrested at the Lake County courthouse in May after he was sentenced to 90 days in jail and 24 months of probation for a reckless driving conviction stemming from a 2012 motorcycle crash, authorities said.

In that crash, Villasana was driving a motorcycle at a high speed on Greenleaf Drive in Vernon Hills with a female friend on the back. He lost control of the motorcycle and hit a chain-link fence, causing serious injuries to the passenger, authorities said.

He went to trial on the charge and was found guilty March 19. After the verdict, Villasana asked a friend to find someone to kill the mother of the crash victim, authorities said.

The unidentified friend went to police, authorities said, and an undercover officer met with Villasana on two occasions. Villasana agreed to pay the officer $5,000 to kill the victim's mother, officials said.

After Villasana was sentenced in the motorcycle crash, authorities arrested him on the solicitation of murder charges.

Villasana is due back in court June 26 for pretrial, with a trial date scheduled for July 12.

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