Drug-dealing ex-Schaumburg cop loses appeal
Former Schaumburg police officer Matthew Hudak got some bad news this week: His guilty plea to selling drugs confiscated from drug dealers during busts will stand.
The Second District Appellate Court agreed with DuPage County Circuit Judge Liam Brennan that Hudak had no constitutional right to be told before pleading guilty about evidence damaging the credibility of a witness against him.
While prosecutors must disclose evidence that could help clear the accused before a trial -- including information that could cast doubt on witnesses' honesty -- Hudak gave up certain rights when he admitted guilt, including the right to a fair trial and the right to confront witnesses.
"We can find no unique state history or state experience that justifies a departure from that precedent," Justice Susan F. Hutchinson wrote in the unanimous ruling.
Hudak, 36, is serving a 26-year prison term handed down in 2014 after he pleaded guilty to multiple felony charges stemming from accusations he and two other Schaumburg cops skimmed marijuana and cocaine from drug busts and then sold it themselves through a dealer.
Another ex-cop, Terrance O'Brien, 53, pleaded guilty to similar charges and was sentenced to 24 years in prison.
But their co-defendant, John Cichy, insisted on going to trial. On the eve of its start in February 2018, DuPage County prosecutors dropped a bombshell: They were dismissing all charges. The shocking decision came, they said, after learning that a confidential informant ready to testify for the state had been involved in criminal activity not previously disclosed by prosecutors.
Just weeks after Cichy's case was dropped, Hudak filed for post-conviction relief, arguing that he pleaded guilty based on representations that the evidence against him was solid. Had he known about the witness's criminal activity -- two uncharged allegations of theft -- his decision on a plea deal might have been different, he argued.
But both Brennan and the appellate court rejected those claims.
"While the state arguably engaged in skulduggery when it failed to disclose the evidence in violation of its continuing duty to disclose, this court has found no reported decision where a violation of our discovery rules, standing alone, would allow a defendant to withdraw an otherwise voluntary plea of guilty," Brennan ruled.
O'Brien also is trying to withdraw his plea. In court Tuesday, his attorney, Paul DeLuca, slammed the ex-prosecutor on the drug case.
"There is a lot of material that in my view is improper or was improperly handled by the state's attorney's office," DeLuca said.
300+ sign petition
Court proceedings -- and especially trials -- are supposed to be protected from outside influences.
But that's not stopping some people from trying to sway the Kane County judge deciding the child sexual exploitation case against former Harvest Bible Chapel youth pastor Paxton Singer.
Nearly 340 people have signed a change.org petition titled "Declaration of Support for Victims of Paxton Singer" that was sent to Kane County Judge Michael Noland.
"Paxton Singer going free is a very dangerous possibility," the petition reads. "If he does not have to register as a sex offender in Illinois, he will be able to work with minors again. Judge Michael Noland cannot let this happen."
A former member of the church where Singer worked started the petition in July. It picked up steam in September, when some expressed concern on social media about how Noland was handling the case.
Singer, 25, of Sugar Grove, has pleaded not guilty. He is charged with enticing a minor to remove clothing for his own sexual gratification and misdemeanor disorderly conduct stemming from alleged interactions with a teen he was mentoring.
On top of the online petition, Noland also received a link to a YouTube video of someone commenting on the case, according to court documents.
He forwarded the video to Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles, who then asked the Kane County state's attorney to review it and determine if there was anything criminal about it. The office decided there was not.
There's no word whether Noland reviewed either the petition or the video. In the meantime, he's scheduled to rule Tuesday on a defense motion for a directed verdict in their favor.
Cops vs. cancer
Wheeling police officers will be serving customers at a local McDonald's later this month as the department holds its second annual Arrest Cancer fundraiser.
The event is set for 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 22 at the McDonald's at 188 E. Dundee Road. In addition to the tips collected by officers, the restaurant will donate 20 percent of ts proceeds during the event to the American Cancer Society.
Congratulations to Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg, who on Tuesday received the Hispanic Heritage Award from the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The organization honored Idleburg for his leadership in publicly supporting family unity and treating immigrants with respect and dignity.
"Treating every human being with respect and dignity is an absolute must, especially in the law-enforcement profession," Idleburg said in an announcement of the award.
"While the award was presented to me, the credit goes to the men and women of the sheriff's office who diligently work to keep our communities safe and act with integrity, while treating everyone they meet fairly and with respect."
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