You can get away with a lot of nonsense in Chicago, but don’t deface the “Bean.”
That hard lesson is being learned again today by 18-year-old Diego Corona. Prosecutors say he’s the guy who sprayed graffiti on the famed Cloud Gate sculpture in Millennium Park on Friday evening.
Judge Susana Ortiz ordered him held in lieu of $50,000 bail Sunday — ten times the amount she handed down for people accused of illegally carrying guns. In fact, Corona’s bail amount is among the highest she handed out all day. It’s even higher than what she gave to convicted felons accused of pointing guns at people.
Corona’s eye-popping bail amount is even five times higher than the amount Judge David Navarro gave to two men who were charged with similarly defacing the same sculpture in 2019.
Chased and detained
Police and prosecutors said Corona used spray paint to tag the Bean around 6:10 p.m. Friday. A 20-year-old man saw him do it and chased Corona until catching him near Macy’s on State Street, prosecutors said. Police arrested Corona there.
He is charged with felony criminal damage to government property and misdemeanor battery.
Prosecutors said Corona has no criminal background. According to a public defender who represented him during Sunday’s hearing, he graduated high school last year and works as a busboy.
Ortiz said she decided to set a high bail amount due to “the type of landmark that was allegedly graffitied” and allegations that Corona kicked the man who detained him.
“You are to be nowhere near the Bean at Millennium Park,” Ortiz warned Corona. She also said he must stay in the house on electronic monitoring from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. if he posts the 10% deposit necessary to get out of jail.
More serious than guns
Corona’s $50,000 bail with nighttime electronic monitoring was among the most expensive and most restrictive bails Ortiz handed down Sunday. People who appeared before her for first-time illegal gun charges were typically given bail amounts between zero and $5,000.
Even convicted felons accused of pointing guns at others received more affordable bail conditions.
In one case, a convicted felon was accused of walking out of a currency exchange, pulling a handgun, and pointing it into the business. According to prosecutors, an off-duty cop saw it happen, took the man into custody, and recovered the gun — which had been reported stolen from Mississippi. Ortiz set that man’s bail at $40,000 with electronic monitoring. That’s $10,000 less than Corona, who will also be on electronic monitoring at night under her order.
Another convicted felon was accused of pushing a Black woman into a display stand during an argument in a gas station and calling her the n-word. He allegedly flashed a gun in his waist and then pulled the weapon out and brandished it during the incident. Prosecutors said the altercation was captured on video. An assistant state’s attorney said they might file hate crime charges later. Ortiz set bail at $30,000 — a little more than half of what she gave Corona for painting the Bean.
More than 2 years
In the 2019 Bean defacement, prosecutors pursued felony charges against Rey Ortega and Tino Guzman for more than two years — even though Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx insisted that her office’s resources were focused on violent criminals.
Ortega finally pleaded guilty at the end of September 2021 to one count of criminal damage in a plea deal that ended with him getting a one-year prison term. The sentence was offset by 477 days of credit that he received for sitting at home on electronic monitoring while the case dragged on.
Prosecutors are still pursuing the felony case against Guzman. With the alleged crime’s third anniversary approaching, he is due in court again on April 18.