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Former director of Tri-County Action Commission pleads not guilty

Sixty-year-old West Union Township resident Denise Birt pleaded not guilty on Friday, July 15 in relation to charges that she mismanaged the organization’s fund. Birt is the former director of the Tri-County Action Commission, a non-profit organization that provides services to people living in Logan, Champaign, and Shelby counties.

Birt’s five-count indictment includes three third-degree felonies – securing writings by deception, falsification, and theft – a fourth-degree felony count of theft, and misdemeanor charge of tampering with records. David Thomas, Birt’s defense attorney from Columbus, said imprisoning her was uncalled for. He noted, “It came as a complete surprise to us because we’ve been in communication with the Logan County Prosecutor’s Office, yet for some reason, they found it necessary to issue a secret indictment and a warrant to arrest a woman who is 60 years old and has no criminal record. She’s cooperated with the prosecutor’s office so far and there’s no reason to believe she will not continue to do so.”

The attorneys The Bruno Law Offices, handle criminal defense cases, including white collar crimes, all over Illinois and in federal courts. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Murderer of Danville woman sentenced to 17 years

Forty-five-year-old Danville resident George Harold Chapman faced first-degree murder charges in the death of 43-year-old Danville resident Angelica Vasquez. Around 7:45 a.m. on Sept. 27, 2011, Vasquez was found burned and half-clothed on the property of an abandoned farmhouse at 1315 N. Rising Road, just north of Bradley Avenue near Champaign.

In June, Vermillion County Circuit Judge Tom O’Shaughnessy sentenced Chapman to 17 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections after Chapman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder. Assistant State’s Attorney Sandy Lawlyes, who negotiated the plea agreement, said Chapman believed that his crime was done in self-defense. Lawlyes further claimed she “was concerned about a lesser offense being found by the jury after presentation by the defense…[and] felt the circumstances warranted a plea that would guarantee a guilty verdict.”

Murder charges are extremely serious allegations that can have debilitating effects on all aspects of your life. The criminal defense attorneys at The Bruno Law Offices in Champaign offer the most aggressive criminal defense strategies possible. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to learn more.


DUI arrests in Decatur are second-highest in the state of Illinois for 2015

Independent non-profit organization Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists has reported that the Decatur Police Department in Illinois has made the second-highest number of driving under the influence arrests in the state in the year 2015, with 405 arrests.

The Carol Stream Police Department and the Rockford Police Department each placed first when it comes to DUI arrests, both garnering 470 arrests, the Annual Illinois DUI Arrest Survey for 2015 showed.

Other city and town police departments included in the top 10 for most number of DUI arrests in Illinois comprised of Springfield, Naperville, Peoria, Normal, Cicero, Elgin, Aurora, and Fairview Heights police departments.

Our Champaign-Urbana criminal defense lawyers at the Bruno Law Offices can help you protect your legal rights in court and fight the criminal charges that were brought against you so that you could get back with your normal way of living. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000.


Witness denies claims that she implicated defendant in murder trial

Twenty-two-year-old Champaign resident Dashiona Fonville was arrested so that a jury could hear her testimony in a murder trial. According to The News-Gazette, Fonville claimed at least 120 times on Wednesday, June 22 that she could not remember much of her former testimony concerning the murder. Fonville originally claimed 22-year-old Champaign resident Brandon Collier was involved in the fatal shooting of 30-year-old Terron Jackson.

Judge Tom Difanis said the jury will have access to the recorded statement that Fonville gave to Champaign police investigators Andre Davis and Brad Krauel to have more information on the case. Another witness, 23-year-old Charnise Caraway, has also said that Collier was the shooter.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices provide legal services to our clients in the Champaign-Urbana area and other areas of East Central Illinois. We are here to help people charged with criminal offenses in the state of Illinois, and we are committed to delivering high-quality criminal defense representation. Call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Danville man gets 33 years in prison for second-degree murder

Thirty-eight-year-old Danville, Illinois resident Jason Roberts  was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Tuesday, May 31. His crimes include striking Dylan Scales, the boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend Michelle Crawley, with a baseball bat, and fatally hitting Robert Collins with his vehicle, in October 2015.

Roberts was supposed to stand trial on first-degree murder and aggravated driving under the influence charges for the Oct. 22, 2015 death of Collins, but his charges were reduced to second-degree murder after he made a guilty plea. Roberts was also charged with aggravated battery for striking Scales on Oct. 21, 2015, just a few hours after the incident with Collins.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices provide legal services for our clients in Champaign-Urbana and other areas of Illinois. We handle criminal defense cases ranging from theft and burglary to drug possession and homicide. If you have been convicted of a crime, call our offices today at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Former police officer pleads guilty to aggravated criminal sexual abuse

32-year-old Jerad Gale, a former police officer for both the Champaign City Police Department and the Monticello Police Department in Illinois, pleaded guilty on Friday, May 27 to two felony counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in two separate cases involving two women in Champaign City Court.

Gale was given a jail sentence of six months, 48 months of probation, and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender as part of a deal that included a guilty plea on an identical Class 2 charge on another victim in Piatt County. His sentence began on Friday, June 3 in Piatt County, and will be served concurrently for all three charges. Gale was originally charged with aggravated criminal sexual assault of a 22-year-old woman with bodily harm, which included a strained neck and bruised arm. He was also charged with aggravated domestic battery for choking the victim and refusing to let her breathe while he sexually assaulted her.

The criminal defense lawyers at the Bruno Law Offices have a high success rate and are highly recommended by our clients. Should you have the misfortune of being charged with a criminal offense in Champaign, do not hesitate to employ the legal services of our attorneys by calling (217) 328-6000 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team.


Illinois lawmakers draft bill to protect rights of juveniles

Illinois lawmakers are considering the creation of a bill that would require the presence of an attorney when police officers interrogate juveniles who are younger than 15 years of age in murder or sex offense investigations in an attempt to lower the rate of false confessions.

The bill would mandate that when police question anyone younger than 15 regarding a murder or sex crime, the police must read a simplified Miranda warning that informs the accused of their right to remain silent and have legal counsel. The bill also seeks to require the videotaping of interrogations of juveniles suspected of misdemeanor or felony cases.

Director of training at the National Juvenile Defender Center, Tim Curry, claims teenagers and children often have no idea how to invoke their right to an attorney. Center on Wrongful Convictions of Youth co-director Laura Nirider agrees, saying “Children are vulnerable in the interrogation room and the result can be false confessions.”

The Bruno Law Offices have long been committed to protecting those accused of a crime in Urbana-Champaign and other areas of Illinois. To discuss how we can help you avoid a serious conviction, call our offices at (217) 328-6000.


Champaign police officer waives right to jury trial in sexual assault case

Thirty-one-year-old Champaign, Illinois police officer Jerad Gale, who is charged with sexual assault involving three women in two counties, waived his right to a jury trial in one of the cases, which was set to start the first week of May.

According to the Champaign News-Gazette, Gale made the request on Friday, April 29. He is charged with two counts of criminal sexual assault involving a 27-year-old woman with whom he lived in Monticello in a trial scheduled to begin on Monday, May 2. Evan Bruno, Gale’s legal counsel, has yet to say if Gale and local prosecutors are arranging a plea deal in lieu of a jury trial.

The attorneys at the Bruno Law Offices, who serve clients in the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois, handle defense for offenses such as child pornography, sex crimes, gun crimes, and drug crimes, among others. Get in touch with a member of our legal team by calling our offices at (217) 328-6000 to discuss your legal options.


Plea agreement gets man charged with aggravated DUI over four years in prison

On Tuesday, April 5, forty-two-year-old Phillip Morris, of Charleston, Illinois plead guilty to an aggravated driving under the influence charge for allegedly driving while intoxicated in December 2012 with an 11-year-old child aboard his vehicle.

Morris was sentenced to over four years in prison and ordered to pay over $26,000 in fines and court fees as part of his sentence due to the DUI conviction. His methamphetamine possession charge on Sept. 28, 2013 was also dismissed due to the agreement.

Coles County Circuit Judge Teresa Righter accepted the terms of the plea agreement as offered by Assistant State’s Attorney Bryant Hitchings and defense lawyer James Roytek as the basis for Morris’ sentencing.

Our attorneys at Bruno Law Offices in central Illinois have attained success in defending thousands of serious criminal and DUI cases in the state and federal courts. If you need legal advice or representation in your criminal case, do not hesitate to speak with a qualified member of our legal team at the Bruno Law Offices by calling our offices today at (217) 328-6000.


Man sentenced to 14 years in jail for sexual assault

Wednesday, March 16, Judge Heidi Ladd sentenced 42-year-old Mark Doeden, of Urbana, Illinois, to 14 years of imprisonment and required him to register for the rest of his life as a sex offender. The sentencing reflected the Illinois recommendation to the judge when Doeden pled guilty in December 2015 to charges of criminal sexual assault.

Doeden has confessed that he engaged in sexual activities with a child under the age of 18 in May 2015. A more serious charge and a lesser charge alleging sexual acts were dropped as a result of his guilty plea.

Urbana police investigator, Tim McNaught, said an examination of computers and phones that were confiscated in Doeden’s apartment in Champaign in June 2015 revealed “literally thousands of computer-generated child pornography images”.

With the legal protection and assistance of a veteran criminal defense attorney, a person charged with a criminal offense in Urbana-Champaign may be able to successfully defend his legal rights and freedoms. Do not hesitate to contact a member of our legal team at Bruno Law Offices by calling our offices today at (217) 328-6000.

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