IN THE CLEAR
Sangamon County state’s attorney John Milhiser says no charges will be filed after an investigation into the North County Teen Court requested by Sherman Police Chief Craig Bangert in January. The investigation into the court, which diverts juveniles suspected of minor crimes from county court to a jury of teen peers that decides appropriate sanctions, came after Sherman officials suspected that village police records that included the names of juvenile defendants might have been inappropriately stored in the garage of Karen Hoffek, the court’s executive director. State police found no wrongdoing, and the court continues to enjoy the support of Riverton, Spaulding and other small communities that steer kids to the teen court instead of the county juvenile court. “It’s a bunch of goddamn nonsense,” Riverton Police Chief James Lawley told a state police investigator who asked about allegations against the court, according to an Illinois State Police report. Lawley told the investigator that allegations from Sherman were the result of “bad blood” between Phil Brown, a former Sherman police officer who has been active on the teen court, and village officials. Investigators found no evidence that official files belonging to Sherman had been taken, but a court docket sheet prepared by the court, which is a private nonprofit entity as opposed to a government agency, was in a box of documents that included court bylaws and other nongovernmental records that had been stored in Hoffek’s garage. The docket sheet was removed after local police officials went through the box to determine whether it contained any police files, according to state police. Hoffek says she and the court have been vindicated. “That’s what we were waiting for,” Hoffek said.