County leaders say electronic monitoring is safe and effective. Here are some people who may disagree. (Part 1)

City and county leaders have engaged in a series of public dust-ups over whether Cook County’s electronic monitoring (EM) program is used effectively and appropriately.

Typically, Chicago Police Supt. David Brown argues that too many people are re-offending while on EM for pending cases while Cook County Board Pres. Toni Preckwinkle and Chief Judge Timothy Evans insist the program is safe and effective.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, whose office operates the monitoring program, thinks there are problems.

“We were handed this thing — we didn’t ask for it — we said ‘this is not what it was designed for,’” Dart told NBC5 in July. “The program was never designed for violent people.”

Just last week, a five-time felon was charged with murdering his own cousin while on electronic monitoring.

On Tuesday, public defenders represented 14 men during felony bond hearings in Chicago. Records show six of those men were on bond for other felony cases when they allegedly committed the new crimes. And two of those six were on electronic monitoring.

Escape and armed robbery

Charles Whitehead, 26, was in court yesterday to face charges of armed robbery and unlawful vehicular invasion stemming from an incident that allegedly happened while he was supposed to be on electronic monitoring for possessing a stolen motor vehicle.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said he and another man walked up to a victim who was sitting in a car outside a store in West Town on the evening of September 17. Whitehead allegedly opened the driver’s door, put a knife to the man’s neck, and grabbed the victim’s wallet from his pocket. The other offender punched the victim and the pair fled.

Whitehead was not wearing a mask, and a “very clear” surveillance video shows the entire incident, prosecutors said. CPD officers recognized Whitehead from the footage.

At the time of the alleged robbery, Whitehead had been missing from EM for three weeks, according to prosecutors. He remained at-large until October 5, when police arrested him for allegedly having a loaded handgun inside a satchel on a street in East Garfield Park.

Prosecutors charged him with Class X felony armed habitual criminal and escape on October 6, court records show. In addition to escaping on the stolen motor vehicle matter, Whitehead was also wanted for failing to show up in court for a pending manufacture-delivery of heroin case.

He is now being held without bail.

“Sometimes the third time is the charm.”

When Emannuel Romero appeared before Judge Charles Beach on a charge of Class X armed habitual criminal in September 2020, it was Romero’s third felony gun case in three years. Police said they saw a loaded handgun lying at Romero’s feet during a traffic stop on the 300 block of West Oak the night before.

Beach ordered Romero to pay a $10,000 deposit to go home on EM and said, “sometimes the third time is the charm.”

Sometimes.

On Tuesday, Romero was charged with having a loaded 9-millimeter handgun with an extended ammunition magazine and a half-pound of pot inside the home where he’s supposed to stay on EM. Sheriff’s deputies found the contraband after receiving a tip, prosecutors said. Romero also made comments about having cannabis and guns during a recorded phone call from jail, Assistant State’s Attorney Sergio Gomez said.

He’s now charged with another Class X armed habitual criminal count.

“It’s an ongoing issue of you possessing weapons and ammunition,” Judge Mary Marubio said before ordering him held without bail on Tuesday.

Among other cases involving EM participants:

Fire

Terrell Hill, 40, is accused of setting his ex-girlfriend’s house on fire while she, her children, and other people were inside. Hill was on electronic monitoring for Class X armed habitual criminal, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and six other felonies stemming from a separate domestic confrontation at the time of the alleged arson.

Prosecutors said Hill texted his ex with threats to kill her and her children and then went to the woman’s home at 3:50 a.m. on July 5. There, he texted photos of himself standing outside her front door and sent a message that she would “see fire,” prosecutors said.

He poured gasoline on her front door and set it ablaze, then did the same thing to the home’s back steps, according to prosecutors. There were five children and two adults inside the house at the time. None was injured.

Hill’s fingerprints were allegedly found on a gasoline can nozzle at the scene, and the GPS tracker in his EM monitor pinged at the ex’s house for over an hour around the time of the fire, prosecutors said.

They filed aggravated arson and electronic harassment charges against him last month.

Hill, a seven-time convicted felon, was on electronic monitoring for allegedly having a gun and threatening to shoot another ex-girlfriend last December.

“That’s him! He has a gun!” the woman screamed as police arrived at the scene about a week before Christmas.

Officers chased Hill, who tossed the gun, which was equipped with an extended ammunition magazine, into a car as he walked away, according to prosecutors.

He was charged with eight felonies, including Class X armed habitual criminal, possessing a stolen firearm, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

A judge initially ordered him held in lieu of $100,000 with a requirement to go onto a GPS monitor if he posted 10% of that amount. Another judge reduced the bail amount to $40,000 with electronic monitoring six days later, court records show. Information about which judges were involved in the bail decisions was not immediately available.

He’s now being held without bail.

“Compliance check”

Dai-ante Campbell, 21, was charged in July 2020 with seven counts of aggravated discharge of a firearm involving seven different victims in Skokie, according to court records. He paid a $5,000 deposit and went home without EM.

Less than three months later, while on bond, he was charged with manufacture-delivery of cocaine in Mount Prospect. A judge ordered him to pay another $2,700 to get out on EM. He did.

Sheriff’s deputies conducted a “compliance check” at Campbell’s home last month and found a loaded handgun in his bedroom along with a separate ammunition magazine, prosecutors said. The gun, which had multiple serial numbers, was stolen, according to the allegations.

Like Romero, Campbell allegedly talked about owning the gun during phone calls from jail. He is now being held without bail.

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