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updated: 2/2/2016 10:47 PM

Father sues DuPage jailers over son's fatal heroin withdrawal

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A DuPage County man has filed a federal lawsuit alleging DuPage County jailers ignored his son's signs of heroin withdrawal and let him die in custody.

Totuccio Ceraulo, of unincorporated DuPage County near Lombard, filed the suit Monday, less than a month after his 21-year-old son, Sebastiano Ceraulo, was found dead inside the DuPage County jail.

According to the suit, Ceraulo died in custody Jan. 7 as a result of electrolyte imbalance and dehydration -- both common side effects of heroin withdrawal.

However, DuPage County Coroner Richard Jorgensen said his office is still awaiting toxicology reports and records before rendering an opinion on Ceraulo's cause of death.

According to court records, Sebastiano Ceraulo was taken into custody Jan. 4, after Judge George Bakalis revoked his bail for violating terms of his probation on prior burglary charges. The violation was a positive drug test after several missed tests.

According to the lawsuit, the jail staff should have known about Ceraulo's heroin addiction based on previous arrests.

"They knew who this guy was, and they knew he had a heroin problem. And if they didn't, they should have learned it through the intake process," said attorney Michael Oppenheimer, who filed the suit. "But they threw him in a cage like an animal and offered him no treatment."

Soon after entering the jail Jan. 4, Ceraulo began demonstrating clear and obvious signs of withdrawal from heroin, the suit states.

"While in custody ... Ceraulo's condition continued deteriorating each day and exhibited obvious opiate withdrawal symptoms to the extent that it was readily apparent to the individual defendants that he was in serious need of medical attention," the suit says.

The suit states Ceraulo's family seeks a jury trial and "compensatory and punitive damages, as well as costs and attorneys' fees."

DuPage County sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Domrose said the office does not comment on pending litigation.

Paul Darrah, spokesman for the DuPage County state's attorney's office, which would defend the sheriff's office in such a suit, said the office has yet to be served with the suit.

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