Special prosecutor picked to handle Wigginton's first DUI, is assigned to second one

By Record News | Feb 8, 2019

EDWARDSVILLE – Special prosecutor David Rands, who handled a drunk driving ticket against former U.S. attorney Stephen Wigginton in 2017, will do it again. 

Rands entered an appearance in traffic court on Feb. 5, to prosecute a ticket Wigginton picked up in Edwardsville on New Year’s Eve. 

His current ticket didn’t match the first one for spectacle. 

On May 23, 2017, his Cadillac ran off U.S. 40 eastbound from Interstate 55-70, wiping out 40 feet of fence and pulling up five posts. 

He kept driving with a headlight missing, loose parts dragging, and enough damage under the hood to produce smoke and a grinding noise. 

Troy officer Bryan Brown found his eyes red and glassy, his speech thick tongued, and reported that Wigginton stated he drank a glass of vodka. 

When Brown asked for identification and Wigginton said, “You know who I am.” 

When Brown said he didn’t know him, Wigginton said, “Your boss does,” according to Brown’s report.

At the station, Wigginton refused a breath test. 

Brown charged him with driving under the influence, failing to reduce speed, leaving the scene, and lacking a headlight. 

State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons declared a conflict of interest and passed the ticket to the Illinois State’s Attorneys’ Appellate Prosecutor. 

That agency originally provided prosecutors only on appeals, but it expanded to provide special prosecutors for state’s attorneys with conflicts of interest. 

Chief appellate defender Patrick Delfino assigned Wigginton’s ticket to Rands, who had investigated more than 100 Madison County cases. Most of his cases involved political leaders and their families.

Rands and Wigginton quickly negotiated a plea. 

Wigginton agreed to pay $1,500, seek treatment, and spend a year under court supervision, and Rands agreed to dismiss the lesser violations. 

Wigginton signed an affidavit for purposes of obtaining supervision on July 7, 2017, stating he completed alcohol evaluation. 

He listed the evaluation agency’s name and address as, “Done out of state.” 

Former Madison County associate judge Luther Simmons accepted the plea on July 11, 2017. Three months later, he ended his supervision.

“The court has personal knowledge of defendant’s compliance and satisfaction with all terms of court supervision, including completing alcohol treatment pursuit to evaluation, paying all court ordered fines and costs, attending the victim impact panel, and not being charged with violating the laws of this or any other jurisdiction,” Simmons wrote. 

Last New Year’s Eve, Edwardsville officer Nicholas Henderson responded to Sonic restaurant on an anonymous call about a silver Jeep.

Henderson wrote that he spotted it and that as it exited to Plummer Drive it drifted to the center of the road and the oncoming lane, and initiated a stop. Wigginton advised him he had been a prosecutor for Madison County and the U.S. attorney.

“I observed Wigginton to speak in a mumbled, slow, and deliberate manner as if struggling to organize his thoughts,” Henderson wrote.

Assisting officer Justin Towell clearly smelled alcohol.

Wigginton told Towell he was staying at Holiday Inn, but told Henderson he was staying at Country Hearth Inn, the police report says.

It also says that Wigginton stumbled when exiting the Jeep and that Wigginton stated he didn’t wish to perform tests in front of cameras.

The report further states that Wigginton couldn’t follow the eye stimulus and couldn’t keep his balance while listening to instructions; he took six steps and officers had to catch him. 

Wigginton refused a breath test.

“I provided Wigginton a courtesy transport to the Country Hearth Inn, where he was staying,” Henderson wrote. “I ensured Wigginton safely made it to his hotel room.”

Wigginton was issued tickets for driving under the influence and improper lane usage. 

Wigginton retained Curt Dawson of Lucco, Brown, Threlkeld, & Dawson, and pleaded not guilty on Feb. 1. 

Associate Judge Jennifer Hightower has set a hearing on March 7.

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