Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Special prosecutors often get tapped to handle politically sensitive matters

By Record News | Feb 7, 2017

A constant critic of Caseyville Mayor Leonard Black will stand trial for threatening a public official beginning Friday, Feb. 17 before St. Clair County Associate Judge Randall Kelley.

Brad Van Hoose of Belleville allegedly threatened to kill Black in April. Because Black holds status as a public official, the offense qualifies as a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence range of between two and five years in prison.

Special prosecutor David Rands, who has handled more than 100 cases in Madison and St. Clair County in the last 10 years, was assigned to the prosecution after grand jurors indicted Van Hoose in September.

The last time Rands, as special prosecutor, pursued similar charges as Van Hoose’s the defendant spent 160 days in jail and two years on probation.  

Rands intends to build his case on testimony of radio voice Bob Romanik, who once served prison time for lying to grand jurors in federal court.

Black told a police detective on the date of the alleged incident that he was meeting with Romanik for coffee at the South Main Diner when Van Hoose "began yelling and cussing at Leonard and Robert.”  “Bradley got on his motorcycle and yelled, ‘I’m going to kill everyone,’” the incident report states.

“Leonard stated that he is in fear for his life,” Det. Andy Reel wrote. “Leonard is not sure what Bradley is capable of.”   

Romanik ran an unsuccessful campaign for the State House in November. The controversial radio also host made headlines earlier this week for his on-air use of racial epithets. 

Van Hoose, after his arrest, asked Rands’s employers at the Fifth District appellate prosecutor’s office for a list of his cases.  

The office supplies special prosecutors for state’s attorneys with potential conflicts of interest, and it provides temporary substitutes for vacant offices.  

Van Hoose received a list for the last 10 years showing hundreds of cases, with 114 in Madison County and 33 in St. Clair County.

Other notable St. Clair County cases include:

Rands charged former Caseyville police chief Jose Alvarez with battery in 2013, after he bumped a critic at a rowdy meeting in the village hall.  

Jurors found Alvarez not guilty. Mayor Black then fired him.

Rands dismissed a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol against lawyer David Cates of Swansea in 2014, after Cates paid a $3,000 fine for “improper standing.”  

Cates is son of Fifth District Appellate Court Judge Judy Cates.  

Swansea officer David Ray arrested David Cates on Oct. 10, 2014, at 10:38 p.m., and charged him with driving under the influence and illegal liquor transportation.  

Ray swore and signed a report of reasonable grounds for the arrest.  

“Responded for a one vehicle accident,” Ray wrote. “Found driver to have glassy bloodshot eyes and a strong odor of alcoholic beverage on breath.  

“Driver had slurred speech and refused standard field sobriety test.”  

He checked a box that read, “Because you refused to submit to or failed to complete testing, your driving privileges will be suspended for a minimum of 12 months.”  

He checked a box that showed Cates surrendered his license.  

On Oct. 21, 2014, Secretary of State Jesse White notified Cates that as a first offender, he would qualify for an interlock device after 30 days.

Cates retained Thomas Keefe III, who petitioned to rescind the suspension.  

Keefe wrote that Cates was not under the influence and his arrest was unlawful.  

He wrote that Ray was without reasonable grounds to believe Cates was driving under the influence of alcohol.  

On Nov. 6, 2014, State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly moved for a special prosecutor and chief judge John Baricevic granted the motion.  

On Nov. 7, Rands entered his appearance and swore he would faithfully discharge the duties of the state’s attorney.  

At a hearing he attended on Nov. 12, Associate Judge Christopher Kolker rescinded the suspension for lack of probable cause.  

“Clerk to return defendant’s driver’s license,” Kolker wrote.  

His order reflects no objection from Rands.  

On Jan. 21, 2015, Cates pleaded guilty of improper standing.  

Kolker fined him $3,000, dismissed the original tickets, and placed him on 90 days of court supervision.  

In the same fashion, Cates beat a charge of driving under the influence in 2007, without the intervention of a special prosecutor.   

Associate Judge Stephen Rice rescinded his suspension a month after his arrest and amended the charge to reckless conduct not involving a motor vehicle.  

Rice imposed a fine of $1,500, and ordered restitution of $400 to “IGF” and $100 restitution to “Belleville PD.”  

“Treatment to be completed in 6 months,” he wrote.   

Justin Kuehn represented Cates on that occasion.

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Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois