Why Kane County sheriff, state's attorney teamed up to set a drug suspect free
When a county's top two law enforcement officials team up in a courtroom, it's usually to put someone behind bars.
So it was an unusual twist last week when Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser and Sheriff Ron Hain collaborated to set a man free -- one facing serious drug charges, no less.
Mosser and Hain appeared together in court in the case of Rick Swain, a 50-year-old Aurora man who's been locked up in the county jail since 2019 awaiting trial on heroin-related charges. They persuaded Judge John Barsanti -- a former state's attorney himself -- to release Swain on electronic home monitoring.
The release is a reward of sorts for Swain's dedication to a new addiction-treatment program at the jail that offers nonviolent defendants a chance to go free by committing to turning their lives around. He's the first to be released through the program.
Hain said Swain has taken 16 classes while in jail, including one on successful re-entry to society and another to obtain an OSHA health and safety certification.
The sheriff also arranged for Swain to work at Gentlemen's Parlour Hair Salon in Aurora, in its Second Chance Chair program. The salon is owned by a Cook County sheriff's deputy, Hain said.
"I would definitely be a hard worker out there," Swain testified.
And if Swain messes up?
"I would go find him myself and bring him to the Kane County jail," Hain said.
While out of jail, Swain will be subject to random drug tests and home and work visits. He'll have to participate in an outpatient addiction-recovery program and continue trauma therapy. And he'll live with a sister, in Sugar Grove.
Both Mosser and Swain attorney Alex Bederka argued for his release.
"This (Lighthouse) is a program that I believe in," Mosser said.
Barsanti ordered monthly reports about Swain's work, schooling and training, and warned him there's no room for error -- he's an example for the program, good or bad.
"These people all believe in you, and that's an amazing thing," Barsanti said, as a tearful Swain shook his head in agreement.
We first introduced you to the relationship between Hain and Swain in October, when we wrote about the sheriff's launch of a podcast on which he interviews jail inmates. Swain was one of the first guests on the "A Sheriff and His Inmates" series.
Swain, who said he started using drugs when he was 11, told Hain that if recovery programs had been available when he was first locked up, he might have avoided being imprisoned three times later in life.
Do you have a constitutional right to snap a photo of someone in a public place? What if that someone is a child? And the photographer a convicted sex offender?
Those were the questions before a state appeals court recently as it weighed -- and ultimately rejected -- the appeal of a suburban man arrested, convicted and sent to prison for taking photos of two teenage boys at a Buffalo Grove business in 2016.
Gregory A. Rollins, 39, was asking the court to toss out his conviction and five-year prison term on a charge of child photography by a sex offender. A former Woodridge resident, Rollins argued that the law was unconstitutional and his photography of the 15- and 13-year-old boys was protected by the First Amendment.
The Second District Illinois Appellate Court disagreed. In a unanimous ruling handed down last Friday, the court ruled that the state law making it illegal for sex offenders to photograph children without a parent's consent is not aimed at the content of the images but rather at serving an important public interest.
"As a preliminary matter, it is beyond question that the government's interest in protecting children from sex offenders is substantial, compelling even," Justice Donald Hudson wrote in the 22-page ruling. "Thus, the government was clearly acting to advance an interest of sufficient magnitude when it enacted (the law)."
Rollins previously was convicted of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child in Cook County in 1999. He's serving his sentence on the photography charge combined with an unrelated possession of child pornography conviction out of DuPage County in 2020, and he is not eligible for parole until 2025.
A Villa Park woman is suing DuPage County, its state's attorney's office and the Chicago Herpetological Society to get back nearly 60 snakes -- mostly boas and kingsnakes -- and about a dozen other reptiles seized during a raid on an Addison garage in February.
Federal agents came across the animals while searching the property of Michael Frobouck, who they allege wanted to raise an army "to take the country back" and sold an unregistered "destructive device" to an undercover agent.
An informant told authorities he saw multiple rifles and tens of thousands of rounds of various ammunition in the basement of Frobouck's home in late November, court documents state. The next month, the informant introduced Frobouck to an undercover federal agent who, authorities allege, bought ammunition, explosive materials and explosive precursor chemicals from the Addison man.
Frobouck attorney Timothy Whelan is also representing the reptiles' owner, Shelby Becci. He says Becci's only connection to Frobouck was renting space from him after a fire in her Villa Park home.
Becci runs a business called Scales and Tails, and can be hired to bring the animals out for educational demonstrations. Her suit estimates they are valued at about $26,000.
According to DuPage County Animal Control, the snakes are being cared for by the herpetological society.
• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.