Judge to man accused of River North robbery: Things will be worse for you under the SAFE-T Act

Christopher Jablonski is accused of robbing a restaurant employee in the 400 block of North Wabash. | Google: CCSO

A Cook County judge on Sunday warned a man accused of robbing a Chicago restaurant employee that his situation would be worse under Illinois’ soon-to-be-enacted criminal justice reform legislation known as the SAFE-T Act.

“I’ll tell ya what,” Judge Charles Beach told Christopher Jablonski. “If I could, I’d hold you no bail. And after the first of the year, that’s what’s gonna happen.”

The SAFE-T Act will abolish cash bail, requiring judges to either hold defendants without bail or release them.

Under current Illinois law, no-bail holds are permitted in very limited circumstances. As a result, Beach did what Illinois judges have done for years to circumvent the limitation. He set an unaffordable bail of $300,000 for Jablonski to keep him locked up.

Prosecutors said the victim was smoking outside a restaurant in the 400 block of North Wabash when Jablonski, a 17-year-old boy, and a third person walked up around 10:45 p.m. Friday.

Jablonski asked for a cigarette, but the victim declined. So, Jablonski knocked the victim’s cigarette out of his mouth, slapped a drink out of the victim’s hand, and then punched the victim repeatedly in the face, prosecutor Christopher Nugarus said.

Officials said Jablonski displayed the butt of a handgun in his waistband and took the victim’s backpack, which contained a shirt and his paycheck.

The victim sought help from a co-worker who confronted Jablonski and the others. Jablonski threatened the co-worker and again displayed the handgun in his waistband, Nugarus said.

Chicago police arrested Jablonski in the area about an hour after the robbery. Nugarus said he had a fake handgun and the victim’s backpack when CPD took him into custody.

Jablonski was free on a recognizance bond for delivery of methamphetamine at the time of the robbery, Nugarus said. He received a three-year sentence for aggravated battery causing great bodily harm in 2016.

He is now charged with aggravated robbery and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.

Jablonski’s lawyer said he works as a cook and uses all his money to support his child.

In addition to requiring Jablonski to pay $30,000 toward bail on the robbery charges, Beach held him without bail for violating bond conditions in the meth case until the judge handling that matter can review the new developments.

The 17-year-old who allegedly assisted with the robbery is charged with aggravated robbery and misdemeanor possession of a knife, a CPD spokesperson said.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com