Police: Man who fled to Poland in 1995 after fatal crash arrested, back in Lake County

  • Marek Josko

    Marek Josko

 
 
Updated 6/29/2020 6:03 PM

A man who fled to Poland in 1995 to avoid prosecution on a reckless homicide charge has been extradited and returned to Lake County after an extensive effort by police to bring him to justice.

Local officers and officials at the U.S. Embassy in Poland, U.S. Department of Justice's Office of International Affairs and the FBI worked several years to find Marek Josko, 66, who was finally arrested in February in a city in far southeastern Poland called Przemysl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Because of the global pandemic, Josko's extradition was held up until June 25, when the U.S. Marshals Service transported him from Poland to Midway International Airport and turned him over to Lake County sheriff's deputies, Lake Forest police said in a news release Monday.

Lake Forest Detective Mark Senger, who led the local police effort to find Josko during the last six years, said everyone in the international law community who worked together to track down Josko was extremely helpful.

On Saturday, a Lake County judge set Josko's bail at $1 million, which means he would need to pay $100,000 to be released before his trial. He will next be in court July 21.

Josko had been on the run since Dec. 19, 1995 when he boarded a plane from Chicago to Warsaw to avoid prosecution for the death of Waukegan resident Dennis Bourassa 10 days earlier, according to Lake Forest police.

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Early in the morning of Dec. 9, 1995, several witnesses saw Josko driving the wrong way in the northbound lanes of Route 41, just north of Deerpath Road in Lake Forest, before he crashed into another vehicle. That caused a second collision, which involved Bourassa, who sustained serious head injuries and later died as a result, according to police.

Josko admitted to police he had been driving at the time of the crash, according to the news release, and a blood test showed his blood alcohol concentration was .019, over the then-legal limit of .10.

Josko initially was charged with a DUI and released on bond while police investigated whether his actions had led to Bourassa's death. On Dec. 18, 1995, a Lake County judge signed an arrest warrant for Josko on a reckless homicide charge. Police were unable to locate Josko in Poland, and it was listed as a "cold case" until 2013.

In 2014, Senger was asked by Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim to look into the Josko case as part of an effort to follow up on cold cases, especially those involving a death.

Senger spent many hours working with local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies to try to find Josko, according to Lake Forest police. Senger also kept in contact with Bourassa's widow and family and the officers who worked the case in 1995.

"Everyone told me Dennis was a great person," Senger said. "It's somebody's dad and husband who was taken away from them. The older you get and the older your kids get, that sticks with you. I tried to promise his family I would do everything I could do to get this done."

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