Charges against corrections officer dismissed

Reports show incidents of jail inmates’ money missing since officer resigned

• Interrogations not taped

Winnebago County Assistant State’s Attorney David Gill’s case against former Winnebago County Corrections Officer Vincent Enna Jr. was dismissed Jan. 13.

Illinois 17th Judicial Circuit Judge Gary Pumilia dismissed the case for violations of Enna’s 5th and 14th constitutional amendment rights, protecting individuals from self-incrimination and protecting the individual’s right to due process of law.

Enna said he did not take an envelope containing $65.40 of an inmate’s money from the Winnebago County Jail’s booking room on March 28, 2002, despite accusations that he took the money as part of a prank or joke.

Nearly $1,000 of inmates’ money has been reported missing since Enna was pressured to resign on April 2, 2002.

Although the case was dismissed, Winnebago County State’s Attorney Paul Logli said last week his office was “still reviewing the facts of the underlying case” to determine whether charges would be re-filed against Enna.

After about two hours of interrogation by Winnebago County Sheriff’s Detective Vincent Lindberg on April 2, 2002, Enna signed a statement written by Lindberg that said he took the money, which Lindberg said belonged to Sandra Eash, an inmate in the Winnebago County Jail.

Randy Wilt, one of Enna’s attorneys from Sreenan and Cain, P.C., suggested future taping of interrogations in their entirety could provide a more accurate record of what transpired.

Logli said taping interrogations such as Enna’s “would be a difficult, unfunded mandate,” even though the public safety tax collected $8,064,159 between July 2003 and October 2003.

The incident

The envelope and cash Enna was accused of stealing have not been recovered. Lindberg said Enna stated he threw the envelope in the trash at his home. Enna said he never took the envelope or the cash.

Winnebago County Sheriff Richard Meyers said a videotape of the incident shows a hand from inside the booking room taking an envelope with Eash’s cash inside it. Meyers said Lindberg determined the hand taking the envelope was Enna’s after Lindberg reviewed the videotape and interviewed four corrections officers.

Enna has repeatedly denied taking the money and envelope during interviews with media and during his Sept. 9, 2003, testimony under oath.

Corrections Officer Ryan Esterbrook and Enna completed separate reports on March 28, 2002, about the March 28 incident in which they both name another specific officer.

Esterbrook’s report reads: “I do not recall seeing officer [- – -] throwing or tossing anything into booking on the counter.”

Enna wrote: “I don’t remember ever seeing C/O [Corrections Officer, – – -] throw a money envelope on the counter.”

Neither Esterbrook’s nor Enna’s report was assigned a case number.

When asked if another specific officer may have taken the envelope in question, Meyers said, “I don’t believe [the specific officer] did it.”

Lindberg testified that at the time he questioned Enna, he was “not aware of the report” Enna had written. Lindberg also testified that he interviewed the specific officer before he interviewed Enna and allowed the specific officer to view the videotape of the incident, a request Enna was denied.

When asked if the envelope of cash was misplaced or lost, Meyers said the video suggests Enna “palmed” the envelope of cash and “walked away.”

Meyers said Enna waived his right to an attorney during his interrogation on a criminal charge. Meyers also said Enna signed a statement that he stole Eash’s money and signed a resignation form.

Wilt said the state had the burden of proving that the statement was signed freely and voluntarily, and without coercion. The state wasn’t able to prove those conditions were met, which is why the case was dismissed, Wilt said.

Wilt also said the videotape of the incident does not support Meyers’ and Lindberg’s assertion that Enna stole the envelope and cash.

Enna said he isn’t certain if the envelope was ever taken and speculated that it may have been misplaced or lost in a manner similar to an incident reported on Dec. 12, 2002.

Inmates’ money and property

Between Aug. 5, 2002, and April 8, 2003, after Enna resigned, corrections officers reported the following concerning inmates’ accounts:

• eight incidents of missing cash for a total of $528.25;

• two incidents of missing checks for a total of $425, one of which was related to one of the missing cash incidents;

• one incident of excess cash for $15;

• one incident of missing clothing and wallet, which may have contained money;

• and one incident on Dec. 12, 2002, when three envelopes with cash were found underneath a lower-level drawer on the bottom of the booking room’s money-drop cabinet.

All the incidents were assigned case numbers, except the incident when the three envelopes with cash were found on Dec. 12, 2002. Meyers said Eash’s envelope of cash was not one of those found in the Dec. 12, 2002, incident.

Meyers said any system that transacts money will have excesses and shortages in accounts.

After learning of the Aug. 5, 2002, to April 8, 2003, incidents, Logli said, “All facts are under review.”

Interrogation and reports

Prior to being ordered to the interrogation room, Tom Van Den Eeden, corrections officer and president of the Local 473 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees’ union, testified he advised Enna to request a union representative to be present during the interrogation if he thought discipline might be imposed. Van Den Eeden also said he advised Enna to request an attorney to be present during the interrogation if he thought criminal charges were pending.

Enna testified Brian Clus, union steward, also advised him to make the same request that Van Den Eeden described.

Enna testified he made the request several times during Lindberg’s interrogation, but Lindberg denied the request. Lindberg testified that Enna never asked for either an attorney or union representative. Judge Pumilia ruled in Enna’s favor and dismissed the case.

Enna said Lindberg questioned him for about two hours in a small room with no windows before he signed a resignation form and statement. Enna testified that Lindberg left the room twice, while Lindberg testified he left the room once.

According to Lindberg, Esterbrook told Lindberg that Enna was going to inform their supervisor that the incident was a prank or April Fool’s Day joke.

Sign your lifestyle away

Kelly Vecchio, Enna’s other attorney from Sreenan and Cain, questioned Lindberg about the interrogation:

Vecchio: “At the time after you started questioning Vince…You threatened him, did you not, that if there were any shortages…you were going to pin those charges on him and charge him with a felony?”

Lindberg: “That’s not correct.”

Vecchio: “Did you say anything along those lines?”

Lindberg: “No.”

The following is Wilt’s questioning of Enna:

Wilt: “Was there some conversation between you and Detective Lindberg at that point in time as to what might or might not happen to you unless you agreed to cooperate with him?”

Enna: “Yeah. He informed me that if I didn’t cooperate with him that he would go to the auditor’s office and pull up all shortages and pin them on me, charge me with felony official misconduct, and that I would be in jail with the people I was guarding.”

Wilt: “At some point did you ask whether or not you could leave?”

Enna: “Yes, I did. I remember asking him — I said, well, this isn’t going anywhere. I didn’t take the money. I’m done. I want to leave.”

Wilt: “And what was his response?”

Enna: “He said, ‘I’m not done. I’ve got more — I want to talk to you more,’ and once again told me it was clear that I took the money, and started rambling on about different reasons I would have took the money.”

Lindberg testified that he never informed Enna he was free to leave. Lindberg also said he never informed Enna that he didn’t

have to answer Lindberg’s questions.

Enna continued: “He told me he knew I had a rather large family, I had four kids, maybe I was behind on my bills, maybe I had gambling problems, maybe I was into drugs, whatever. I told him, no, I didn’t take the money. …he just kept rambling on about different scenarios. And he was getting more and more upset as he kept going.

“…He told me, maybe you were just playing a joke on [the specific officer]. I hear you’re quite a jokester up in the jail. I told him, no, I didn’t take the money. Well, there was no joking about it. And he started just going over—going on with this joke scenario, saying, it’s clear you took the money. Maybe it was just a joke. …

“He continually brought up the going to the auditor’s office and pinning all the shortages they have ever had in the jail when I was working, and the official misconduct, and felony charges, and my bond would be jacked way up, and I would be in there with the prisoners I was watching.”

Wilt: “That’s what would happen to you if you didn’t cooperate and admit that you took the money?”

Enna: “Yes.”

Wilt questioned Enna about why he signed the statement about the joke scenario that Lindberg constructed, which described why Enna allegedly took the envelope and money:

Wilt: “And to be very honest about it, there is a written statement out there that has your signature on it, right?”

Enna: “Yes.”

Wilt: “Why don’t you describe for the Court the process that occurred when that statement was actually taken. What caused you to agree to give a written statement?”

Enna: “Well, he [Lindberg] had left again, and before he left he put a resignation form on the desk in front of me, and he left. And he was gone about 10 or 15 minutes. And the whole time I’m sitting there thinking, I’m screwed. You know, I got a family to support. What am I going to do? Just a week prior to that they had told me that—they had pulled me off shift to work court, and they told me I was sleeping in court. Well, the lieutenant went over to the courthouse and asked the bailiff and whoever else he asked, and they said, no, he wasn’t sleeping. He was sitting right next to me in the courtroom. I mean it’s—I knew I was screwed at that point.”

Lindberg and Enna both testified that Lindberg suggested reasons or “themes” as to why Enna may have been motivated to allegedly take Eash’s cash. The following is Gill’s questioning of Lindberg:

Gill: “In relation to possible reasons that this money may have been taken.”

Lindberg: “Yes.”

Gill: “What were the purpose of those suggestions?”

Lindberg: “Um, suggesting to a defendant on why the defendant did something is a tool that I use regularly. …I try to come up with themes on why somebody would do something.”

When asked by Vecchio why Enna wasn’t allowed to write his own statement about the incident rather than having Lindberg construct the statement, Lindberg replied: “I couldn’t tell you. We … we just do it.”

As to why the county has pursued a conviction, Meyers said his department has “zero tolerance for theft” by officers.

Enna speculated that perhaps the county was “looking for a fall guy” for account shortages, and he was a prime target because he expressed his opinions about perceived questionable behavior by department administrators.

As to the differing testimonies, Logli said “It would be very unusual for a perjury charge to come out of this.”

Family life

Meyers suggested last Friday that The Rock River Times investigate Enna’s work history.

Enna acknowledged he missed a number of work days due to a variety of family obligations. Enna added that he had also been accused twice of dozing off while on duty, one of which was described earlier in this article, which was independently refuted.

One of Enna’s four children has a medical condition that contributed significantly to the family’s debt, which has mounted since Enna’s forced resignation. The debt resulted in the family having to file bankruptcy last year. In addition, Enna’s legal defense has added $4,597.70 to the family’s debt. Enna said they simply don’t have the money to pay Sreenan and Cain.

The family also was evicted from its rented home on April 4, 2003. Enna said the eviction caught the family by surprise because they thought they had a verbal agreement to move out April 5.

George Hampilos, owner of the property, said the Ennas were habitually late in rent payments and that “there was no understanding or agreement that they would be given additional time after the judge entered their eviction order,” which went into effect April 3, 2003.

A court document shows the family owed $850 before Hampilos acted to evict the family. Enna said law enforcement officials, the family, and Hampilos watched as a team of workers set the family’s belongings in the early spring snow (see photo, page A1).

The stress caused Enna and his wife Marlena to separate twice for several months last year. The family recently moved into another rented home.

While union officials continue their efforts to reinstate Enna with back pay, Enna is taking care of his children—ages 6, 7, 8 and 17. Meanwhile, Marlena works three jobs and clocks in work weeks that regularly exceed 100 hours. As a result, Marlena said she is beginning to have health problems, such as her complete loss of vision for four hours last week.

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