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updated: 6/2/2017 9:02 AM

Kane County inmate suing jail for $1 billion over not being allowed to vote

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  • Louis Alexander Bertaux is suing the Kane County jail for $1 billion, saying officials there deprived him of his vote in the presidential election.

    Louis Alexander Bertaux is suing the Kane County jail for $1 billion, saying officials there deprived him of his vote in the presidential election.

 

It seems the political divide over last year's presidential election is everywhere these days.

Why should it be any different in jail?

A Geneva man behind bars at the Kane County jail on Election Day is suing the facility, claiming he was mocked about the outcome by a Trump-supporting correctional officer and denied an absentee ballot to cast his vote.

Louis Alexander Bertaux is seeking a mere $1 billion in damages, Daily Herald legal affairs writer Harry Hitzeman tells us.

"Upon the news of this presidential election being concluded, without my ability to participate, by exercising my Constitutional right to vote, I experienced the equivalent of being murdered inside," the lawsuit states, "like a debilitating gutpunch that deflated my soul, and diminished my spirit, and caused terrible and negative thoughts and feelings so damaging to my heart and psyche, that I've been struggling to uphold my superior state of mind."

Kane County sheriff's Lt. Pat Gengler said the office doesn't comment on pending or ongoing litigation. But in general, inmates who want to vote are offered help obtaining a ballot, he said.

The lawsuit is next due in court on June 27.

In the meantime, Bertaux, 53, remains locked up on $100,000 bail, awaiting trial on a weapons charge, according to jail records.

Words matter

Ghastly. Abhorrent. Sick. Perverted. Despicable.

Words any of us might use without a second thought when describing a person who sexually abuses children.

But when a judge uses those words while sentencing a sex offender, it's another matter altogether.

That's what a state appeals court ruled last week when it ordered a new sentencing hearing -- and a new judge -- for an Elk Grove Village man convicted of abusing two Addison girls in 2011, when they were 9 and 5 years old.

Scott J. Gates will receive a new sentencing hearing after a state appeals court ruled that the judge who sent him away for 46 years may have let his personal opinions influence his ruling.
Scott J. Gates will receive a new sentencing hearing after a state appeals court ruled that the judge who sent him away for 46 years may have let his personal opinions influence his ruling.

The ruling stems from the 46-year prison sentence Scott J. Gates received in 2015 after a DuPage County jury convicted him of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and aggravated criminal sexual abuse of a child. In handing down the sentence, Judge John J. Kinsella blasted not only Gates but child abusers in general, labeling them "ghastly," "abhorrent," and guilty of "shameful and despicable conduct."

In a unanimous decision, the appellate court ruled Kinsella crossed the line between commenting on an individual defendant before him and expressing personal opinions.

"The trial court's comments suggest that it may have based defendant's sentence on its own opinion of child abuse offenders," Justice Robert Spence wrote. "Therefore, we must remand the case for resentencing before a different circuit court judge to ensure that defendant's sentence is based only upon proper factors and not upon the trial court's subjective feelings."

A new sentencing hearing for Gates has not yet been scheduled.

Scam alert

Illinois State Police issued a warning Wednesday about phone scammers claiming to be from the agency seeking donations for the families of officers who've died in the line of duty.

The phone number most often associated with the call is (312) 789-5176, state police said, but they noted that scammers can quickly change the phone number displayed on caller ID.

State police officials say they never call to solicit money or ask people to send them money for any reason.

Anyone who thinks they might have received a scam call should call the Illinois attorney general's office at (800) 243-0618.

Scam alert, Part II

It's not just people answering their phones who need to be vigilant. According to the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, con artists are targeting people looking for summer jobs.

Here's how the scam works: Victims are lured in with a help wanted ad online or an email from a "recruiter." The ad likely uses the name of a real business or government agency.

When a victim applies, they receive a quick response from the "hiring manager," often with an offer without having an interview. From there, scammers will ask for personal and banking information to run credit checks or set up direct deposit.

"A tip-off to the rip-off is any on-the-spot offers or any payment requirement demands for an opportunity or training," said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau.

The BBB says job hunters should be especially careful about work-from-home gigs, secret shopper positions or any job with a generic title. And be leery of anyone who promises great opportunities or big income as long as you pay for coaching, training, certifications or directories, the BBB says.

Amy Zuniga, found not guilty by reason of insanity for her cousin's 2013 slaying in Aurora, was granted new privileges by a Kane County judge this week.
Amy Zuniga, found not guilty by reason of insanity for her cousin's 2013 slaying in Aurora, was granted new privileges by a Kane County judge this week.
A taste of freedom

An Aurora woman found not guilty of murder by reason of insanity gained some new privileges Thursday.

Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler gave Amy Zuniga permission for unsupervised travel on the grounds of the Elgin Mental Health Center, where she's been held since 2015, and supervised visits off campus, per the recommendation of treatment providers.

Zuniga, 49, was charged with fatally stabbing her 68-year-old cousin, Reynaldo C. Galvan, at her home in October 2013. She also stabbed herself and her husband.

She claimed to police she was Jesus Christ and told a doctor: "Jehovah is coming. I have been telling them this for a while. No one believes me."

Aurora police believed she might have been using medication prescribed to treat her grandchild's attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and suffered psychotic side effects.

• Got a tip? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com or call (847) 427-4483.

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