Former Wheaton man guilty of murder for hire plots
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Gordon Vanderark, once expecting to be paroled in about 6 years, may never again see life outside of his prison cell.
The former Wheaton man was found guilty Tuesday of 18 counts of solicitation of murder and solicitation of murder for hire for attempting to hire a recently paroled felon to kill DuPage County Circuit Judge Blanche Hill Fawell, Prosecutor Audrey Anderson and Vanderark's wife. Each of the counts comes with a mandatory sentence of between 15 and 40 years, to be served concurrent with the 22 years he is already serving.
Vanderark was found not guilty of six counts alleging he also sought the murder of a man who held his power of attorney.
Assistant States Attorney Joe Lindt said he was pleased with the verdict while Vanderark's attorney Neil Levine declined to comment after the verdict was read.
Fawell sentenced Vanderark to 24 years in July 2010 after he was prosecuted, by Anderson, for his 10th DUI. The sentence was later reduced to 22 years, court records show.
During closing arguments Tuesday, Lindt said Vanderark was "on a path of revenge" and began planning the killings almost immediately upon his transfer to Centralia in January 2011.
"He immediately began planning to settle up with the two women who put him in Centralia (Correctional Center) for 22 years," Lindt told jurors. "And ultimately against all who he believed have wronged him."
During the trial Harold Myers, who was recently paroled from Centralia, said Vanderark gave him $2,100 to show he was serious about the contract killings of Fawell, Anderson, Vanderark's wife and a man who held his power of attorney.
There also was discussion of killing a man Vanderark believed to be having an affair his wife while he served hard time for his 10th drunken driving conviction, according to testimony.
Levine, during closing arguments, told jurors the plan was never hatched because Vanderark never committed. Instead, he said the entire conversation, some of which was recorded while Meyers wore a wire in prison, was Vanderark trying to be a "tough guy."
"On that side of the (prison) wall, you have to be tough or they'll walk all over you," Levine said. "Gordon Vanderark was talking tough. That's it. He was talking jibberish, foolish tough talk."
Vanderark is next due in court for pre-sentencing at 8:30 a.m. June 5.
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