Bull Valley, Child Pornography, and the NSA.

I’m amused sometimes when I read about crime in Bull Valley.  Not because it’s funny.  More so because everybody thinks of Bull Valley as a pristine, perfect place.  Arrests in Bull Valley should serve as proof to the world of what those of us in Criminal Defense work already know: crime can pop up anywhere.  Today the Northwest Herald is reporting of an arrest for child pornography in Bull Valley:

Bull Valley man charged with child porn

By CHELSEA McDOUGALL – cmcdougall@shawmedia.com
WOODSTOCK – A Bull Valley man facing child pornography charges in Topeka, Kan., was arrested Thursday in Woodstock on an additional seven felonies.
[Name redacted by myself] allegedly had more than 1,000 images on various electronic devices of children engaged in sex acts, Woodstock Police said.
Thursday’s arrest was the end of a 10-month investigation by the Woodstock Police Department, who were notified in January that there might be some illegal pornographic downloads in the area…

Here’s another thing that amuses me: when the police use the passive voice.  They did that here.  The Woodstock Police Department “were notified” about illegal downloads.

Wonder who did the notifying?

My first guess is the feds.  As I’m sure you know by now, they have the ability to watch everything we’re doing on the internet.  Even before it was that pervasive, though, the feds were all over this internet child porn thing.  I’ve had cases in the past where they notice a download of material that shouldn’t be downloaded and either start their own investigation or assist the local police in getting the investigation going. Sometimes they’ll bust somebody on one end of an illegal transaction, get that person to cooperate in further investigation, and then extend the investigation out to other people and jurisdictions.

Is that what happened here? I don’t know. The police are clearly trying to protect the identity of whoever provided them the information, though.

Some DUIs might not be what they appear…

“Cary woman charged with DUI in single-vehicle crash”

That’s the headline of the article in the newspaper.  After reading it, curiosity got the best of me.  DUIs aren’t that uncommon.  Single-vehicle crashes aren’t uncommon, either.  Neither are the two of them together.  So, I read on:

WOODSTOCK – A 29-year-old Cary woman was charged with driving under the influence, after she veered her car off the roadway Tuesday and crashed into a culvert in unincorporated Woodstock.

The driver [whose name and address I’ll redact because she’s already having a bad enough day], was also charged with failure to reduce speed, marijuana possession, drug paraphernalia possession, and endangering the life of a child, according to a McHenry County Sheriff news release. A male juvenile was a passenger in the car.

Interesting.  Not so much for what it says, more for what it doesn’t.  What it doesn’t say is that alcohol, or any substance, was believed to contribute to the accident.  Nor does it say that it was an alcohol DUI.  Reading between the lines (because the clerk’s computers haven’t been updated), it very well might be a cannabis/marijuana/THC DUI.

There are people out there- lots of them, actually- who think the marijuana/THC DUI laws in this state are a little silly.  You can count me among those people.  Essentially, if there is any amount of THC (the active ingredient in cannabis) in your system, you can be cited for DUI.  The odd part is that conventional testing can sense THC in your system as many as 30 days after consuming the drug.  That’s odd, because you really aren’t experiencing any effects from the drug at that point- but you can still get a DUI.
Which gets us back to the article.  Did the “DUI” contribute to the accident at all?  It doesn’t look like the police bothered to tell that to the reporter if it did:

Investigators found that [the lady’s] black 2008 Mazda veered from the southbound lane on Dean Street, north of Route 176, to the northbound lane and entered a ditch.

The vehicle then struck a culvert, overturned and hit a tree, police said. The juvenile was taken to Centegra Hospital – Woodstock as a precaution. [The driver] did not seek medical attention, police said.

They also didn’t say that in the McHenry County Sheriff’s Press Release.  I’d really hate to think that this accident only made the news because the police fed a story to the newspaper making it sound like the accident was caused by some sort of impairment when, really, the two are unrelated.  That happens too frequently.

Is the flesh-eating Heroin substitute in McHenry County?

Heroin is pretty scary stuff.  They’re claiming it’s on the rise again all over McHenry County.  I don’t have access to the numbers, but I’m not buying that there’s necessarily been a huge increase.  Every couple of years they say it’s “on the rise” or becoming an epidemic.  Despite possessing the stuff being a felony or even handing heroin to somebody who ends up overdosing (even if it’s somebody you’re using with), carrying some fairly harsh felony consequences, it hasn’t disappeared.

I know that deaths are up, although that’s not necessarily an indication that general usage patterns have substantially increased. It’s not uncommon for a batch of “bad heroin” (not that any of it is good) to cause a cluster of overdoses.  So deaths can actually rise and fall without any real correlation in total usage.

Anyhow, Krokodil use is on the rise, for sure.  The Northwest Herald seems to believe somebody in McHenry County has been hospitalized by the substance this week:

“Dangerous flesh-eating drug may have arrived in county

A nasty flesh-eating street drug may have made its way to McHenry County, experts warn.

Centegra Health System advised Tuesday that it may be treating someone who injected themselves with “krokodil,” a heroin substitute of Russian origin. The drug is a toxic cocktail of opiates like codeine and substances such as gasoline and lighter fluid.

The drug causes users’ skin to turn scaly and green, hence the name, which is the Russian word for crocodile. The skin subsequently rots and falls off.

Centegra said in a statement that it is treating an intravenous drug user who has large skin lesions. Because the drug is cheaper than heroin, and heroin use is on the rise in McHenry County, officials fear local hospitals could see more krokodil victims…”

Bad stuff right there. Don’t think so? Here’s video of a girl from Joliet showing you how nasty the sores are and talking about it:

 

The criminals in McHenry County are always getting off easy…

I’m always amused to read the internet comments about the McHenry County Justice system.  Many of them think nobody gets harsh sentences.  Like, the judges in Woodstock are just letting people go “for the hell-of-it.”

Today a defendant took a deal for 45 years.  I know what you’re thinking, too- the dumb prisons are probably going to give him all sorts of “good time” and let him out early.  Nobody ever does all the time they’re sentenced too.  Not on cases in Woodstock, anyway.

The prevailing idea that prisons just open the doors and let people out whenever they want is the most ignorant belief people can have about the system.  Nearly any defense attorney, prosecutor, or judge in the courtroom knows exactly how long a sentence will be.  At a minimum, anyway (the that “good time” guys can get off is designed to keep them on their best behavior in the Big House… the prisons can always lengthen the time to it’s maximum sentence).

So, in this particular case the defendant got 45 years on a bunch of different counts.  Turns out, 42 of them are at 85% and 3 of them are at 50% (to be served consecutively).  So, that’s 35.7 years (42 times .85) and 1.5 years (3 times .5) for a total of 37.2 years of actual time spent.  There are also one (depending on current politics) or two more blocks of good time he can get for a total minimum time of 36.7 years (most likely 36.95, though).

If you don’t like that math, don’t blame the courts or prisons, though. Blame yourself. Your elected leaders formulated that system several years back.  If you want it to be 100%, elect the people who will pass that law… and also figure out how to fund the added burden.

Anyhow, people think nobody in McHenry County gets tough sentences.  That defendant is 39 years old.  He will be about 76 years old before the Department of Corrections can even think about letting him out.  That’s older than the average life expectancy for a male in this country.  The average life expectancy for a male in prison is lower, too. A lot lower.

If you’re going to get hung up on numbers and quibble that defendant only got 45 years for his crimes and that’s not “enough years,”  I suppose you could argue his sentence could have been more severe.  If you look at the practicalities and do the math, though, the guy very well got a life sentence.

Tell me how everybody in  McHenry County gets off easy, again?

The Advantage Group (T.A.G.) is gone. This is a shame.

Northwest Herald is reporting today on the demise of The Advantage Group.  This is a bad thing.  Going back to my days as a fresh-faced attorney in the McHenry County Juvenile Court system, I’ve had a lot of clients involved in T.A.G.  While I’m not a huge fan of a lot of substance abuse programs, I always respected T.A.G.  It’s really a shame that things having nothing to do with the success of the kids in the program are what has forced it to close its doors:

“The Advantage Group, based in Crystal Lake, shut down for lack of funding. The group lost funding from the McHenry County Mental Health Board last year after an audit revealed multiple fiscal irregularities, and another controversy scrapped a last-ditch effort to secure a $49,000 payment to stay afloat.
The group unsuccessfully took the Mental Health Board to court, and the audit prompted an ongoing state investigation into TAG’s finances. Executive Director Pat Owens pinned blame for the closing squarely on the board, which disburses property-tax revenue to agencies working with the mentally ill and disabled.”

If you haven’t seen, the McHenry County Mental Health board has (rightfully) come under fire lately.  It’s never good to see politics getting in the way of helping kids recover.  It looks like T.A.G. may not have been immune, though:

The Mental Health Board, most of whom are new members after a significant County Board shakeup, was poised last month to give TAG the $49,000 payment. But Owens abruptly withdrew the request the morning of the scheduled vote. It was later revealed that TAG was asked to do so because of allegations the group had violated its tax-exempt status by endorsing political candidates.

I’m not going to claim to know Pat Owens. I have enough experience with the program to believe that after decades of working with these kids, though, she didn’t intend to do anything to jeopardize T.A.G’s future. I believe it when she says the political endorsements are a mistake and she didn’t know it was a “no-no” for a tax exempt organization.

Even if it weren’t, it’s still sad to see a good program die for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the program.  It’s difficult enough to get good rehabilitation programs in McHenry County, the county can’t afford to lose one. Especially a good one.