The other shoe dropped in Kane County circuit court recently when an Elgin man received a minimum sentence on drug charges because of, his lawyer said, evidence tampering by former Elgin policeman.
Heywood Hughes, of 602 Raymond St., Elgin, was sentenced to the minimum of six years in prison on each of two drug raids and the seizure of nearly 30 grams of cocaine.
Charged with two Class X felonies which carry a mandatory 6-30 years in prison, Hughes faced a possible double digit sentence on each charge. Additionally, since he was arrested on the second charge while out on bond for the first, the terms would have run consecutively, or back-o-back. But as part of the agreement, the state stipulated the second arrest did not occur while Hughes was on bond, making him eligible for concurrent sentences. Under the terms of the plea bargain, Hughes will be eligible for release in less than three years.
Aurora attorney David Camic had filed a motion to suppress the evidence in the case. That motion was based on the revelation that former Elgin police evidence technician Jerry Bailey has been charged with stealing more than $50,000 from the evidence room at Elgin police headquarters.
Assistant State's Attorney Cathy Cavins said evidence was not a problem in this case and added that Bailey's charges had nothing to do with the state's decision to plea bargain.
"We got a guilty plea on both charges and this was a first-time offender," she said. "There may have been other problems with this case," she added, "but the state felt very confident we had an unbroken chain of evidence in this case. It was not a factor in our decision." But Judge Melvin Dunn, who reluctantly accepted the plea, obviously did not share that view.
"Frankly, I think you are getting away with murder on this one, Mr. Hughes," said Dunn in accepting the plea.
"I wouldn't go around through like counting on it again, nor thumbing your nose at the system, or going down to the penitentiary and saying what a great lawyer you've got - although he is a great lawyer - and what a sweetheart deal you got."
"I have great reluctance in accepting the disposition, but I understand the state's position. It's particularly unfortunate that a police officer has put us in this position, to some degree, by his alleged criminal actions in the Elgin Police Department."
"You got your light touch this time, Mr. Hughes. Although I pray it is not true, I suspect we will see you again..."
Hughes was arrested on charged of possession of cocaine and possession with intent to deliver after an October 9, 1990, drug raid at his home.
Camic had filed a motion to suppress that evidence because of recent disclosures that cash and cocaine from another drug case are missing from the same evidence room that houses evidence from the Hughes case. Camic says the evidence is now tainted and police cannot guarantee it has not been tampered with.
Bailey has been charged with felony theft in connection with the theft of more than $50,000 in cash over a five-year period. Camic claimed that could taint all evidence stored there. The state is required to prove an unbroken chain of custody of evidence seized in criminal case and Camic contended it could not be done in his client's case.
Camic and assistant state's attorney Cathy Cavins reached the plea bargain agreement recently, with the state agreeing to allow Hughes to plead guilty in exchange for the minimum sentence of six years.