Legal mix-up frees Ramos
Bernard Ramos is a free man again.
A legal mix-up has led to the release of the former caretaker at Cherry Orchard Village apartment complex, a troubled property south of Rantoul that has piled thousands of dollars in fines for unsanitary conditions.
Ramos was arrested in early April by District of Columbia police on one civil contempt warrant and one criminal contempt warrant issued by Champaign County last year.
But D.C. authorities released Ramos before he could be extradited to Illinois.
Bill Miller, spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office for the District of Columbia, said Ramos posted $5,000 bond in Superior Court of the District of Columbia and was released April 12.
Miller said Ramos appeared at a hearing May 2 in Superior Court, where the U.S. attorney's office informed the court that it was not yet in possession of papers required to extradite Ramos.
"The prosecutor asked for more time to obtain them," Miller said. "The judge denied the request, dismissed the case in D.C., and that cleared the way for Ramos' release here."
Miller said some jurisdictions allow 60 days for other states to obtain extradition papers, but the District of Columbia allows only 30 days.
Joel Fletcher, Champaign County assistant state's attorney who handled the extradition, said the case should have been handled as a federal extradition but instead was processed as "a normal interstate extradition."
"This is an issue that I should have caught, and I take responsibility," Fletcher said.
He said the state's attorney's office now has the paperwork in place to secure the governor's warrant within 30 days when Ramos is again arrested.
"We are putting procedures in place to make sure this doesn't happen again," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said Champaign County officials have been assured that the warrant for Ramos' arrest remains valid.
"If the law enforcement authorities encounter him and identify him, they can pick him up," Fletcher said.
Bernard Ramos and his father, Eduardo, who were caretakers of the apartment complex, which is located between Rantoul and Thomasboro, were sought by police after they failed to appear at hearings in connection with a broken septic system at the complex. The complex typically houses migrant workers in the summer.
Last April, the Ramoses were fined more than $54,000 for failing to legally connect and repair the septic system and ordered to close down the property.
Eduardo Ramos was arrested in February. A Champaign County judge granted him permission to return to the District of Columbia for medical care. A late April hearing for Eduardo Ramos was rescheduled to late June, and he was given permission to return to Washington.