The Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed charges of armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping of a child younger than 13, unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle, aggravated battery with a Taser, aggravated battery with a knife, aggravated battery with an ax handle and mob action against seven members of the Rockford charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club last week.
Charges were dropped against Richard Todd, Robert Bell, John Savalick, Dariusz Achramowicz, Tomas Lech, Jose Velma and Christopher Lawson. The men had been scheduled to stand trial starting today. Prosecutors dismissed the charges after a judge named Joe McGraw refused to delay the start of the trial so prosecutors could strengthen their case against the seven.
Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Brun told television station WIFR that the alleged victim in the case had refused to testify against the accused and implied that he had been intimidated. “As I indicated, the State’s Attorney’s responsibility is to provide a fair trial to all, so we’re certainly not going to rush a case to trail just to say everyone has their right to due process and everyone has their right to a fair trial and part of that is to protect our, all our witnesses so that is part of our decision making process that we deployed at this time,” Brun said.
The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution provides that: “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”
Three other defendants did begin trial today. Those men are Aloysius Balice, Dennis R. Juno and Donald J. Hess. Four defendants named Bradley Wilhelm, Earl Murray, Curt Lambert and Neal Resendez pled guilty to lesser charges last week.
Prosecutors brought the charges against fourteen defendants in July 2013.
The state alleged that on June 27, 2013 the defendants confined an unnamed Rockford man to the charter club house, hit him with an ax handle, punched him, struck him with brass knuckles and a hammer, Tasered him and stabbed him. Police claimed the men cooperated to steal the victim’s wallet, keys and truck and that they detained an 11-year-old girl while the victim was assaulted. There are no allegations that the child was harmed. The investigation started after the victim went to a hospital for treatment and a motive has never been specified. A usually informed source, speaking anonymously, identified the victim as a former charter officer who had been accused of stealing from the club.
At the time of the arrests, police also raided the clubhouse at 1109 Rock St. in Rockford, searched it and then condemned the building.
Rockford City Attorney Jennifer Cacciapaglia told the Rockford Register Star that the clubhouse chimney and plumbing were falling apart, that wiring was exposed, and that the building lacked smoke detectors and a fire escape. “It’s going to be a pretty extensive list,” Cacciapaglia told the paper. “There’s a portion of the roof that is in significant disrepair. I don’t know how soon they’ll be able to address each item.”
Although condemned, the clubhouse is still owned by the club and is currently listed for sale for $59,000.