Ex-Arcola cop gets three years for shakedowns
TUSCOLA — A former Arcola police officer who was shaking down Spanish-speaking Douglas County residents for cash has been sentenced to three years in prison.
Douglas County Judge Mike Carroll on Tuesday sentenced Rogelio Javier Gutierrez, 34, of Humboldt, for official misconduct and intimidation.
The charges stemmed from conduct that Gutierrez admitted committing while he was an Arcola officer in 2011 and 2012. He also served as police chief in Humboldt.
Gutierrez resigned both positions around the middle of 2012.
Douglas County State’s Attorney Kevin Nolan said the conduct for which Gutierrez was sentenced involved an April 2011 incident in which he told an Arcola man that his name would be placed on a list of people who didn’t have an appropriate driver’s license unless he gave Gutierrez $500. The man handed over cash intended for his daughter’s birthday party and presents.
The other incident happened in February 2012 when Gutierrez pulled over a car on Illinois 133 and told the occupants, in fluent Spanish, that their license plate tag was expired. When the wife protested, Gutierrez then declared that the husband’s license was not valid and he would need to post $300 “bail” or face being arrested and having their car impounded.
The couple from Terre Haute, Ind., had no cash because they spent it on new clothes for their children at the Tanger Outlet Mall in Tuscola but an adult male friend with them paid the money. Back home, the wife told the principal at the school where she was working as a janitor what had happened and that woman encouraged her to cooperate with Douglas County authorities. State police then began investigating Gutierrez in early 2012.
Gutierrez was arrested in March 2012. He had been free on bond but was ordered to begin his prison sentence immediately. He was also ordered to pay about $3,900 in restitution.
Nolan asked for a 10-year prison sentence for Gutierrez on the intimidation convictions, the more serious of the offenses, and presented written statements from other alleged victims for Carroll to consider.
"We have statements and police reports documenting 10 more folks. My gut says there are more but people are still afraid to stick they heads up because they are afraid they will be hauled away by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” Nolan said.
Gutierrez was represented by Champaign attorney Mark Lipton, who asked for probation or periodic imprisonment for his client.
Gutierrez works as a personal trainer in the Arcola area.