An Addison man is in the Kane County jail, awaiting extradition to New York City on charges he targeted elderly people as part of a burglary ring.
This, while being out on bond for similar charges in Cook County.
Ronnie Ristich, 56, was described as "part of a roving group of individuals who target the elderly," by Kane County assistant state's attorney Bill Engerman, citing the Cook case, and one in Pennsylvania in 2006.
Kane County Circuit Judge John Barsanti last week refused to set bail for Ristich.
But his attorney painted Ristich as a devoted family man, with two daughters in college and a longtime residence in Addison.
"He is not the person who has committed those crimes," Morelli said.
Ristich was arrested by federal marshals June 19 at his home. The marshal service contracts with Kane County to house its detainees.
Ristich was charged in May in connection with burglaries in New York City, according to Engerman. He and three other men are accused of posing as water-company workers to gain the confidence of, then distract, people age 70 to 90. They would then enter their homes and steal cash and jewelry, according to police. They are suspected of burglarizing as many as 18 homes, in February 2012 and from June 2012 to January 2013.
In June 2012, Ristich and three other men were accused of burglarizing a house in suburban Westchester, according to police. Ristich told the resident he was there to repair a neighbor's home, offered to fix her sidewalk, then asked if he could come in to get water, according to police. A suspicious neighbor called police. He is due to appear in Maywood branch court July 17.
In 1999, Ristich pleaded guilty to criminal trespass in a case in which six men tried to convince an elderly woman they were from the electrical company and needed to plug something in to a socket to ensure she had electricity. In 1985, he pleaded guilty to theft; and in 1984, was found not guilty of residential burglary -- cases that occurred in Cook County, according to the court clerk's records.
Engerman also cited a 2006 arrest in Erie, Pa. where Ristich and three others posed as exterminators to gain access to an elderly couple's house. According to the Erie News-Times, Ristich was charged with burglary and criminal conspiracy, but pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of defiant trespass. According to the article, Illinois State Police had tipped Ohio authorities to the men's presence.
Ristich's attorney, Fred Morelli, asked Barsanti to set a bail of $250,000. He said Ristich was not a flight risk because he has a daughter in college and one who will attend medical school in the fall. Morelli said Ristich has lived in Addison since 1994; that while out on bond for the latest Cook case, was allowed to travel to Las Vegas; and that his family owns two IHOP restaurants in the area.
"He's going nowhere, Morelli said.
Morelli also said Ristich has not been in New York City for more than two years.
Ristich was voluntarily wearing a GPS tracking device when he was arrested by marshals, Morelli said, and would put it back on and send weekly reports to Kane court authorities. He would also be willing to move temporarily to Kane County, if required. Kane County court services only electronically monitors people who live in Kane County, Engerman said.
Engerman questioned why he has a Chicago address on his driver's license.
"Out of respect" to his late mother, Morelli said. His family still owns her house on South Aberdeen, he said. Cook County property tax records indicate the property was sold to someone with a different last name.
Engerman said Ristich is accused of using a walkie-talkie to communicate with fellow defendants during one of the thefts, alerting the others that the victim was on to them. They were known to pay victims off to get them to drop charges, he said.
"He has sufficient financial means to basically abscond," Engerman said. "That's why the New York City judge set no bond."
Ristich's next court date is July 11 on the status of receipt of the New York governor's warrant for extradition.