A 39-year-old Bartlett accountant convicted last month of aggravated street racing that resulted in two deaths was sentenced Friday to 24 months of intensive probation.
Timothy Salvesen, 39, was also sentenced to 130 hours of community service by Cook County Judge Kay Hanlon, who ordered him to complete that service by speaking to high school students about his experience.
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"I think that's more productive than sending him to the penitentiary," said Hanlon. "Hopefully, he can impact young people and change some lives."
"The defendant has led an exemplary life except for 10 minutes," Hanlon said, referring to Salvesen's honorable discharge from the Marine Crops and his spotless record. "In that short 10-minute span he ruined many lives, including his own."
Rebecca Groshek, daughter of victim Migdalia "Mickie" Bloch, disagreed with the sentence. Bloch, a 62-year-old mother, grandmother, sister and aunt from Hoffman Estates was killed when the man Salvesen was racing, 32-year-old Joseph Paliokaitis of North Aurora, crossed into oncoming traffic and struck Bloch's car with his. Paliokaitis died after he was ejected from his car, which caught fire and exploded.
"I don't think justice was served. He should have spent time in prison," said Groshek, 37, who delivered a gut-wrenching victim impact statement detailing how profoundly Bloch's death on Jan. 27, 2011, hurt her family and friends.
Born on New Year's Day, Bloch "knew how to throw a party and how to make every guest feel important," said Groshek, adding that her mother "lit up a room and drew people to her."
Bloch owned a startup business offering financial services to minorities and was Groshek's "lifeline" as well as primary emotional and financial support for Groshek's brother, who she says cannot function independently.
Groshek's 5-year-old son Aidan lost his grandmother -- his beloved "Bubbie" and Captain Hook to his Peter Pan -- who cuddled and kissed him and set up her Dickens Village every Christmas so he could pretend with the characters. Margie Schindler lost her sister, who she called her "rock."
But the tragedy took an additional toll. Groshek was pregnant with triplet boys and restricted to bed rest at the time of her mother's death. The shock caused her to deliver Cameron, Vaughn and Dylan too soon, and all three died. They're buried with their grandmother.
Courtroom observers, including 22 Salvesen supporters, were silent during Groshek's emotional testimony. Salvesen's eyes were red-rimmed.
Defense attorney Dennis Berkson argued Salvesen's character, charity work, military service, the absence of speeding in his background and the absence of drugs or alcohol warranted leniency.
Calling Salvesen a "productive member of society" and an "exemplary citizen," Berkson submitted 30 letters of support on behalf of his client, more than Hanlon has received in any case.
"What he did was stupid," Berkson said. "He will never do this again ... He has learned his lesson."
Addressing the judge, Salvesen asked for forgiveness, saying: "I deeply regret the pain and suffering this has caused."
For Bloch's devastated family, the absence of drugs or alcohol make Salvesen's behavior even more coldblooded.
"All of this pain and loss because of two men's unnecessary decision to race each other -- two men with something to prove to each other or maybe themselves," said Groshek from the witness stand.
After the hearing, Groshek said she hopes Salvesen takes advantage of this second chance.
"He made choices and he gets to go home to his family. My mom doesn't get to go home," she said. "He has 40 years or more, my mom has none."