Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Appellate Court Affirms Conviction for Threat Directed at Illinois State Representative
DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced today that the Second District Appellate Court of Illinois has affirmed the threatening a public official conviction of Stephen Bona, 55, formerly of Chicago, for threatening Illinois State Representative Jeanne Ives. On March 17, 2016, a jury found Bona guilty of two counts of Threatening a Public Official, a Class 3 Felony. On July 15, 2016, Judge George Bakalis sentenced Bona to two years of probation.
On March 22, 2013, Bona called the office of Representative Ives and left a threatening message. An investigation into the matter led to Bona who was charged with Misdemeanor Disorderly Conduct. A second threatening phone call made to Ives’ office three days later prompted the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office to upgrade the charges to Felony Threatening a Public Official. In one of his messages Bona made several threatening statements directed at Representative Ives including “We know where you live”, “There’s no longer a ban on assault weapons” and “Think about that before you speak next time.”
In his appeal, Bona challenged the constitutionality of the law under which he was convicted as well as the sufficiency and admissibility of evidence presented against him. In its affirmation, the Appellate Court found that the statute under which Bona was convicted is constitutional and “is not constrained by the first amendment.” Regarding Bona’s claims against the evidence used against him at trial, the Appellate Court found that “based on the evidence, it was certainly reasonable for the jury to conclude … he intended to threaten Representative Ives.” The Appellate Court also found that Ives’ testimony, which Bona was questioning, “was much more probative than prejudicial” and that “the trial court did not abuse its discretion by permitting the testimony.”
“I would like to thank the Appellate Court for their extremely thorough and detailed review of Mr. Bona’s claims,” Berlin said. “The Appellate Court saw through Mr. Bona’s attempt to hide behind the First Amendment to spew his alarming threats aimed at a sitting elected official. His vitriol crossed the line of free speech and was intended to intimidate Representative Ives. Our democracy demands that public officials must be allowed to do their work free from interference or fear of retaliation that threatens their safety or the safety of their family. They are elected to do a job and my office will do everything within our power to ensure that these men and women will not be harassed by those who differ in opinion.”