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Former Rockford, Metro Enforcement officers charged with armed robbery

By Jim Hagerty

ROCKFORD –  A former Rockford officer and ex-Metro Enforcement security guard have been charged with armed robbery in connection with a holdup at the Van Galder bus depot earlier this month.

Yuliya Kuznets, 37, who was fired from the Rockford Police Department five years ago; and 50-year-old James B. Akerman, a former Metro Enforcement officer, were armed and wearing black masks when they allegedly entered the depot in the early hours of July 22 and demanded money and property from at least one victim.

Winnebago County State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said the suspects fired at least one weapon during the holdup but no one was injured.

A follow-up investigation led police to a home on Myott Avenue between North Main and Auburn streets, Friday, July 27,  where they served a search warrant and seized a cache of guns, prescription drugs and other evidence they say links the suspects to armed robbery.

Kuznets and Akerman were arrested without incident at another location last Friday.

“Nobody is above the law,” Bruscato said Monday. “My other reaction is one of disappointment because the public puts trust in individuals who take on these (law enforcement) positions, and when that trust is breached, it’s problematic.”

Approximately 1,000 rounds of ammunition and more than 4,000 opioid pills were seized from the Myott Avenue address. The drugs included morphine, oxycodone and hydrocodone and were valued at $65,000.

The nature of Kuznet and Akerman’s relationship is unclear. Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea would not say whether they are romantically involved, only that they are acquaintances. The SWAT team was deployed to the Myott home as a precaution because the suspects have backgrounds in law enforcement.

“People who have law-enforcement and firearms training raise a little more concern for us,” the chief said. “We don’t want to end up in gun battles with people.”

Kuznet was hired by the Rockford Police Department in 2005. She was fired for cause in 2013, O’Shea said. Akerman also worked for the city in a non-law enforcement position. Bond for each suspect is currently set at $750,000.

This story will be updated in Wednesday’s print edition. R.

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