Kane State's Attorney's Office Sues Elgin Street Gang

Kane State’s Attorney’s Office Sues Elgin Street Gang

For the fourth time since 2010, the Kane County state’s attorney has sued a street gang and its members in a continued attempt to rid the community of gang activity.The lawsuit was filed March 18, 2016, in Kane County civil court on behalf of the city of Elgin. It names 16 members of the Spanish Vice Lords.

It is the fourth such lawsuit to be filed by the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

The latest lawsuit is similar to the previous suits, which were filed in September 2010 against members of the Elgin Latin Kings, in May 2012 against members of the Aurora Latin Kings, and in June 2013 against members of the Elgin Maniac Latin Disciples.

The most recent suit names specific gang members, as well as the gang itself. It seeks to prohibit the named gang members from congregating in public, and it addresses such documented behavior as the unlawful possession and use of weapons, and illicit narcotics, graffiti, violent behavior, witness harassment and other activities generally associated with street gangs.

The goal of the lawsuit is to dramatically reduce the gang’s criminal activities by impeding members’ abilities to freely operate within the community among law-abiding citizens.

The suit states in part:

“By and through their association with the Spanish Vice Lords … members engage in a course or pattern of criminal activity and gang-related criminal activity including felonies, shootings, aggravated batteries, unlawful possession of and unlawful use of weapons, unlawful possession of and delivery of controlled substances and cannabis, criminal defacement of property, and other conduct injurious to the people of the state of Illinois, and the city of Elgin.”

Justice Screen ShotThe suit seeks unspecified punitive and compensatory relief for past damage and financial losses incurred as a result of the gang activities and to offset the costs of fighting the street gangs.

“These lawsuits are an example of the proactive work we can do to take a bite out of gang activity to make our streets safer for law-abiding citizens, and also to drive these criminal gangs out of our communities. We are pleased with the effectiveness of the previous lawsuits, and we will continue to seek opportunities to improve the quality of life for the people of Kane County,” Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said.

“The gang members named in this suit have continued to engage in criminal activity despite opportunities to reject the gang lifestyle. This lawsuit is a message from the citizens of Kane County that gangs and gang activities are not wanted and not a part of our diverse community,” McMahon said.

The project was investigated and prepared with the help of the Elgin Police Department, which researched the criminal histories of gang members in Elgin as the State’s Attorney’s Office determined who to sue. The Kane County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with the Elgin Police Department to serve the summonses.

The gang members were served with the summonses beginning March 18, 2016. Each gang member, once served, is ordered to respond to the complaint in accordance with Illinois law. The initial case management date for each case is July 5, 2016, in front of Circuit Judge David R. Akemann in Courtroom 320 at the old Kane County Courthouse in downtown Geneva.

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda said he is pleased to have another opportunity to reduce gang crime and improve public safety.

Elgin Police Chief Jeffrey Swoboda

Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda

“Through our partnerships with the Kane County State’s Attorney Office and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, we are able to effectively create a dynamic response to combat gang crimes. This lawsuit is another example of our continued commitment to a safe community,” Chief Swoboda said.

The lawsuit is brought pursuant to the 1993 Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act. The Act holds that street gangs who operate to terrorize communities with repeated acts of violence may be held accountable for monetary damages and enjoined from further gang activity.

The act states in part:

“… Communities, neighborhoods and schools throughout the state are being terrorized and plundered by street gangs. …

“Street gangs’ activities present a clear and present danger to public order and safety and their actions are not constitutionally protected. No society is or should be required to endure such activities without redress.”

The complaint is a series of allegations that must be proven in court by a preponderance of the evidence. The defendants have the right to deny and challenge these allegations or to admit to them or otherwise settle or resolve this complaint.

SOURCE: Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office news release