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updated: 3/30/2014 5:12 PM

Aurora serial smash-and-grab burglar faces long sentence

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An Aurora man arrested after police investigating a spate of smash-and-grab burglaries put a GPS tracker on his car could face a lengthy prison term because of his past record.

Mark E. Swienton, 50, of the 1300 block of Monomoy Street, pleaded guilty in January to burglaries in St. Charles and Aurora in exchange for Kane County prosecutors dismissing 12 other burglary charges, most stemming from break-ins at gas stations and auto repair shops in Aurora.

Normally, the felony charges would carry a sentence of anywhere from probation to seven years in prison.

But these were Swienton's 11th and 12th felony convictions, which make him eligible for a six- to 30-year sentence, prosecutors said.

Using security footage, Aurora police received a judge's permission to put a GPS device on a late model Geo Prism, leading to Swienton's March 22, 2013, arrest.

"(Swienton) traveled from Aurora to the area of St. Charles at which time officers observed him break into an automotive store,"

Aurora Police Detective Kyle Scifert testified at a sentencing hearing last week. "He resisted arrest and tried to get away from officers. He was wearing gloves and some type of homemade mask to cover his face."

Swienton also told a female acquaintance in a recorded jailhouse phone call that "they got me."

"Aurora police were following me," he said in the recording. "My face is all (messed) up. They dragged me on the ground. They had about 35 police there."

Judge Susan Clancy Boles will hear arguments Tuesday from prosecutors and Swienton's defense attorney before issuing the sentence.

Assistant Public Defender Julia Yetter said her client committed the burglaries to support a drug habit.

Sentence challenged: A Sycamore man is asking a judge to reconsider a 12-year prison term issued after he pleaded guilty to causing a crash that killed an 11-year-old boy in February 2013.

Benjamin Black, 29, had heroin in his system when he rear-ended a stopped car, killing Matthew Ranken and causing a chain-reaction crash in Virgil Township. The cars were stopped on Route 64 for another car crash up the road.

Black faced up to 14 years in prison for his crime.

In Illinois, a driver with illegal drugs in his system is automatically criminally responsible for a crash that causes death or serious injury. Authorities do not have to prove impairment. Black's defense attorney, D.J. Tegeler, said his client used heroin about 24 hours before the crash.

Tegeler argues that Judge James Hallock improperly considered as an aggravating factor in determining the sentence that Black's actions caused serious bodily harm. The charge of aggravated DUI already assumes great bodily harm or death.

"You can't use it twice," Tegeler said.

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