Des Plaines alderman Sayad found guilty of trespassing
Des Plaines Alderman Dick Sayad was found guilty Tuesday in Cook County court of misdemeanor criminal trespassing for walking into a resident's home unannounced last February.
The city's 4th Ward alderman was sentenced to 18 months of court supervision, fined $500 and ordered to pay $869 in court costs and fees.
Sayad, the 12-year alderman re-elected in April, was arrested and charged Feb. 27 -- two days after he walked into resident Dave Uhrich's house on the 400 block of Harvey Avenue to discuss complaints Sayad received for an unshoveled sidewalk on adjacent Wolf Road.
Sayad testified during a two-hour bench trial at the Skokie courthouse that he knocked on Uhrich's door and rang the doorbell two or three times, and after hearing no response looked through a window and saw what he believed was a community stairway leading to a second-floor apartment. He opened the door, went upstairs, then knocked on a second door that was opened by Uhrich.
Judge Michael Hood said the outside door is "a residential door" that serves as the entrance to Uhrich's single-family home.
Uhrich uses his second floor as a music studio, where he was conducting a private guitar lesson at the time Sayad walked in about 6 p.m. Feb. 25.
"You weren't acting like a maverick or rogue, but you, Mr. Sayad, went about it the wrong way," Hood said. "You knocked and rang and got no answer, but you weren't satisfied, so you went up those stairs."
Sayad's attorney, James Tatooles, argued that Sayad was performing his official duties as a Des Plaines alderman and was concerned with the safety and well-being of residents.
"There was no criminal intent at all," Tatooles said. "He was trying to be a good alderman. He was trying to do his job."
But Assistant State's Attorney Kim Pressling countered that Sayad was using "safety" as an "excuse for thinking he's above the law."
The judge, agreeing with prosecutors, also said there wasn't a need for Sayad to go to Uhrich's home since Sayad arranged to have child volunteers with the Des Plaines Community Foundation shovel the walk.
Uhrich has maintained that over the course of 20 years as a homeowner on Harvey Avenue, he's never had to shovel the sidewalk on Wolf, believing it was the city's responsibility.
After the judge rendered the guilty verdict, Sayad said he was going to Uhrich's home to get his permission to have the sidewalk shoveled.
"I'm somewhat shocked about what's going on," Sayad told the judge before sentencing. "I'm sorry for what happened. I apologize."
During their respective testimonies, Sayad and Uhrich disagreed about whether Uhrich asked Sayad to come into the music studio and whether Uhrich asked him to leave.
When Uhrich answered his music studio door, "I said, 'What the (expletive) are you doing in my home?'" according to his testimony. "I was kind of shocked and kind of (upset) that someone had come into my home."
Sayad said he asked Uhrich if he wanted him to leave, but Uhrich initially didn't respond. And after a 15-minute conversation about a city ticket Uhrich received for the unshoveled sidewalk, Sayad says he voluntarily left.
"I would never break into anybody's home," Sayad said. "That's ridiculous."
Still to be decided is whether the city will pick up Sayad's attorney fees -- a decision that's up to the city council. Tatooles said typical legal fees for a case like Sayad's would be at least $5,000.