A Plainfield motorcyclist who lured police into chasing him and then posted videos of the pursuits online was sentenced Friday to four years in prison.
DuPage County Judge George Bakalis found Hamza Ali Ben Ali, 31, guilty last month of aggravated fleeing and eluding a police officer and a misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. On Friday, Bakalis admonished Ali's behavior before sentencing him to one year less than prosecutors sought.
Contact information ( * required )
"You put many, many people in jeopardy and then put it online to boast about it," Bakalis said. "This, simply, is not acceptable conduct."
Assistant State's Attorney Alex Sendlak said police were called about 1 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2012, when Ali and another motorcyclist were speeding north on Cass Avenue in Westmont.
Once officers located the motorcycles, Sendlak said, Ali turned on a video camera attached to the rear of his Honda CBR 1,000 and began a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse that stretched from Westmont to Darien and, eventually, I-55 where Ali reached speeds of 115 mph.
"(Ali) put innocent people's lives in danger for his own personal satisfaction. There is nothing more dangerous than that," Sendlak said during Friday's hearing. "He has proved he poses an extreme danger to society when he is on his motorcycle."
Westmont officer Scott Teeter testified during last month's trial that he responded to the Oct. 21 911 call of motorcycles "exceeding 100 mph" on Cass Avenue and caught up with them near 63rd Street and Cass. He said a black and silver motorcycle sped through traffic and got away while Ali pulled into the gas station at the intersection of 63rd and Cass.
After luring Teeter into the gas station, Ali then sped away southbound on Cass to I-55.
Teeter said Ali would occasionally slow down to let him catch up, only to speed off again. Once on I-55, Teeter said, the motorcycle disappeared from sight. Two weeks later, officers found a nearly 8-minute video of the chase posted on YouTube.
Westmont Sgt. Steven Thompson said he analyzed the video and determined it took the motorcyclist 45 seconds to drive the .91 miles on Cass Avenue from 63rd Street to Holly Avenue, meaning the motorcycle was traveling an average of 72.8 mph during that stretch. The speed limit on Cass is 40 mph.
Ali, already sentenced to three years for an aggravated assault charge in Cook County, had four years added to that sentence. He now heads to the Will County jail where he faces similar charges.
Plainfield police officer Martin Van Heejswik testified that on Nov. 5, 2012, Ali, riding the same motorcycle, approached him at an intersection, leaned in his window, said "bye-bye," turned on the camera on the rear of the bike and fled.
During Ali's DuPage trial, prosecutors also presented evidence to show the data from the GPS device he was wearing while on bond in the assault case, which updates every three minutes, matched with the video evidence from both Ali's own YouTube video and the video from Teeter's dashboard camera.
Ali's attorney, Michelle Gonzalez, argued that because the motorcyclist in the video was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a helmet with a tinted mask, it is impossible to know for sure if Ali was driving the motorcycle during the chase.
"Whoever was on the motorcycle that day, it is important to point out that no one was injured," she said.
Ali currently faces a total of seven years in prison, of which he must serve half. He already has served 575 days since his arrest. Any sentence he ultimately receives in Will County will run consecutive to the existing sentence.
He also faces deportation to Algeria as part of an ongoing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement case.
Ali immediately filed an appeal to the sentence.