Former Northbrook engineer charged with stalking held on $40,000 bail

  • Martin Sobanski

    Martin Sobanski

 
 
Updated 2/5/2021 9:56 PM

A former Northbrook civil engineer who prosecutors say took hundreds of photos of women and girls without their knowledge was ordered held on $40,000 bail Friday.

Martin Sobanski, 49, faces four charges of stalking, a felony punishable by up to three years in prison. Probation is also an option.

 

Cook County Judge Ellen Mandeltort ordered Sobanski, a native of Germany, to surrender his passport and have no contact with his accusers and no unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 18.

Prosecutors say that when Sobanski was working for Northbrook, a colleague from the village's information technology department discovered photos of women and girls on Sobanski's flash drive. The flash drive was given to Northbrook police, who subsequently turned it over to Palatine authorities, and they investigated the case.

The flash drive contained "clandestine photos of women taken in secret," said Nicole Murphy, assistant Cook County state's attorney. Those "meticulously labeled" photographs were taken between February 2018 and June 2020 and included a woman and three girls between the ages of about 8 and 12, Murphy said.

The cellphone photos showed the woman and girls playing basketball, attending a professional hockey game, sweeping a sidewalk and sleeping on a sofa, Murphy said. Other photos contained images of shoes and clothing, Murphy said.

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Attorney David M. Smith said his client immigrated from Germany in 1998 and worked for the village of Wheeling before returning to his native country from 2009 to 2011. Upon returning to the U.S. in 2011, he worked as an engineer for Northbrook. He was fired in November after his employer discovered the contents of the flash drive, according to Smith.

Asking for a reasonable bond, Smith said his client "didn't do anything violent" and "fully cooperated with the investigation," which included turning himself in to police Wednesday.

Sobanski next appears in court Feb. 26.

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