Elgin police: Man stole BMW from driveway, sparked drunken chase before crash

Updated 2/14/2019 12:25 PM
  • Anthony D. Cohn faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

    Anthony D. Cohn faces up to seven years in prison if convicted.

A McHenry man who was found not guilty of setting a homeless woman on fire after she refused to have sex with him in 2014 is now held on charges he stole a BMW from an Elgin driveway and sparked a chase near the city's downtown that ended when he crashed into a snow bank.

Anthony D. Cohn, 37, of the 3700 block of Grand Avenue, faces felony charges of possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, aggravated fleeing and eluding, leaving the scene of an accident and driving while license suspended after the Feb. 5 chase, according to Kane County court records.

The incident, according to an Elgin police report and court records, began about 7:02 p.m. when a resident on the 200 block of South Weston Avenue on the city's southwest side heard the door of his silver BMW-XI close and saw a man inside who started the car with the key fob, which was in the center console.

The man, later identified as Cohn, backed up the car and struck a 2011 Chevrolet Traverse before driving away. Several police units responded, but Cohn drove around one squad car at Elm and Locust streets. An officer who chased Cohn on South State Street near Locust wrote in a report he was going 60 mph in the 30 mph zone and the BMW was still pulling away and running stop signs along the way.

Police broke off the chase about 7:32 p.m. due to icy conditions. Two minutes later, they learned a BMW had crashed into a snowbank at Standish and Jewett streets.

A K-9 unit was called but couldn't pick up Cohn's scent. Police followed snowy footprints and found Cohn hiding under a back porch at a house on Walnut Street and he surrendered, according to the report.

Officers smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Cohn and he failed the beginning segment of field sobriety tests at the police station before stopping and refusing to answer any questions, the report said.

Cohn spent more than a year in the McHenry County jail on charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery stemming from a May 29, 2014 attack in an area known as "tent city" behind a Jewel-Osco in Woodstock.

Cohn, who was homeless at the time, was accused of dousing a homeless woman with lighter fluid and setting her on fire after she refused to have sex with him.

Prosecutors dismissed the attempted murder charge before an October 2015 trial in which he was found not guilty of aggravated battery and later released from jail.

Cohn is now held at the Kane County jail on $50,000 bail, meaning he must post $5,000 to be released while the case is pending. He is next due in court Wednesday and faces a punishment ranging from probation to up to seven years in prison.

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