Charges dropped in Elgin meth case because of illegal strip search

  • Ismael Jaimes-Meza

    Ismael Jaimes-Meza

Updated 2/24/2016 4:02 PM

Kane County prosecutors have dropped money laundering and methamphetamine charges against a Minnesota man arrested in April near Elgin after a strip search was deemed illegal.

Judge John Barsanti ruled last year that evidence seized during a strip search of Ismael Jaimes-Meza, 24, was inadmissible in court and, in a rare move, an appellate prosecutor declined to take on an appeal on behalf of Kane prosecutors.


"After carefully reviewing the record and the trial court's ruling in particular, and after having spoke to people at the Kane County state's attorney's office, the undersigned has made the decision to move to dismiss the state's appeal in this matter," wrote Sally Swiss of the state appellate prosecutor's office in court records.

Barsanti granted a prosecutor's move last week to drop the charges against Jaimes-Meza, which could have sent him to prison for six to 30 years after he, his girlfriend and her father were pulled over on Interstate 90 in April 2015.

Barsanti said the strip search was illegal because Jaimes-Meza was not under arrest, and deputies failed to get written permission from a commander as well as prepare a special report on the search, which were two requirements under state law. Jaimes-Meza was released from the Kane County jail last year while the appeal was pending. The appellate prosecutor last month declined to pursue the matter and prosecutors appeared before Barsanti last week to dismiss the charges, according to court records.

Defense attorney Kathleen Colton said that in her 28 years practicing law, she has never seen an appellate prosecutor decline to take on an appeal on behalf of the state.

"While I am ultimately very happy for my client in that the charges are now dismissed, the fact remains that he spent four months of his life in the Kane County jail based on an illegal arrest," Colton said. "I remain disappointed in the police action in this case, and also remain disappointed that there has apparently been absolutely no investigation regarding the issue of the illegal strip searches which were performed on my client, his girlfriend and her father, contrary to Illinois law."

In the past, Sheriff Don Kramer has said his office has the most up-to-date and current procedures regarding strip searches, but a Freedom of Information Act request on the department's procedures was returned to the Daily Herald completely redacted, with all the "policies" removed. A message seeking comment from Kramer was not immediately returned.

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