Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SAO: New special prosecution gang unit

AUGUST 19, 2009


McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis A. Bianchi announces the implementation of a Gang Prosecutions Unit effective August 24, 2009, which reflects the office’s commitment to deter gang activity through tough prosecution efforts.

Assistant State’s Attorney Donna Kelly is assigned to Special Prosecutions and will lead the Gang Prosecutions Unit. Kelly began her career as an Assistant Public Defender assigned to the Felony and Juvenile Divisions in Kane County. She then served as an Assistant Appellate Defender in the Office of the State Appellate Defender, Third District, where she argued dozens of cases before the Appellate Court, and two cases before the Illinois Supreme Court. As a member of the Capital Litigation Trial Bar, Kelly is certified by the Illinois Supreme Court to prosecute death penalty cases as lead counsel. In 2006, Kelly prosecuted Gregorio Pena and Antonio Figueroa, two members of the Latin King Street Gang, for their involvement in a violent beating of a former gang member outside of a tavern in Harvard. Both men were found guilty and sentenced to the penitentiary. In 2008, Kelly and the Chief of the Criminal Division, Nichole Owens, prosecuted Justin Knapp, a Nortenos 14 Street Gang member, for the gang-related stabbing of a young man affiliated with the Latin Kings street gang in a Woodstock parking lot. Knapp was found guilty of attempt first degree murder and sentenced to 16 years in the penitentiary.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jeff Bora will also be assigned to the Gang Prosecutions Unit. He has been employed as a prosecutor with the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office since 2007 where he has tried a total of 23 trials, including the offenses of felony criminal sexual abuse, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, assault and battery, DUI, and resisting a peace officer. Bora is currently assigned to the Felony Review Division where he works closely with law enforcement on felony criminal investigations. He is also assigned to the State’s Attorney’s Office White Collar Crime Division.

Assistant State’s Attorneys Kelly and Bora will train Assistant State’s Attorneys on qualifying law enforcement officers as gang experts; transferring juveniles affiliated with gangs to adult court; imposing conditions of bond at arraignment (such as prohibitions on contact with other gang members and wearing of gang colors); and presenting gang affiliations as aggravating factors at sentencing hearings.

Kelly and Bora will also provide training to law enforcement on investigating gang members; communicate monthly with a gang representative from each jurisdiction; and develop a gang database which will include photographs of gang members, gang tattoos, and will also document gang hang outs as well as gang contacts.

Kelly and Bora will handle gang-related crimes and/or review and monitor their dispositions and will ensure that the prosecutor who is assigned the case is familiar with the gang affiliation and history of each defendant.

Kelly and Bora will also educate the community about gangs within McHenry County, and will visit schools to educate and dissuade students from becoming involved with gangs.
The formation of the Gang Prosecutions Unit will facilitate an aggressive stance against gang crime in McHenry County. The unit will take a hard-line approach against active gang members by coordinating efforts with law enforcement and aggressively prosecuting gang crime.


Frank said...

Best of luck to Donna Kelly. She is a great prosecuter.

Notawannabee said...

I agree with Frank. Donna is intelligent and has a good legal mind. I think she is well suited for this as the cops respect her.

Philip said...

About time.
Driving along Rt. 47 on the north end of Woodstock, I have observed some very interesting individuals decked out in the latest gang fashions. Now, whether or not they are true gang-bangers is another question. If you pay close attention, you will notice "tags" all around McHenry County. I hope this program is not just for show. I've seen first-hand what gangs can do to a community. And frankly, it's an animal ya'll don't want to wrestle with.

Frank said...

I have seen gangs in Woodstock too. Maybe Gus will start to report gang activity instead of parking violations.