Recent Case Results
USA v. RR
RR was indicted and charged in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois with knowingly and intentionally possessing a controlled substance with the intent to distribute — an offense carrying a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years after the prosecutor filed what is known as a Section 851 enhancement. RR was arrested by DEA agents who claimed that he had consented to a search of his hotel room where drugs were later recovered. RR filed a motion to suppress the evidence arguing that he never consented to the search. After fully investigating the case, filing many legal briefs, and retaining a handwriting expert who challenged the authenticity of RR’s claimed signature on a consent to search form, the government agreed to dismiss the indictment with prejudice and RR was released the next day.
USA v. DB
DB was charged with a federal drug conspiracy in the Northern District of Illinois. DB pled guilty and was facing a guideline sentence of nearly 10 years in prison. At the sentencing, we successfully challenged the government’s argument that DB possessed a firearm during the conspiracy as well as the drug amount attributable to DB. DB received a sentence of 1 year and 1 day.
OC vs. Northern District of Illinois
OC was charged in Federal Court in the Northern District of Illinois with felony mortgage fraud charges carrying a maximum possible penalty of 20 years’ incarceration and an initially anticipated advisory guidelines minimum of 24 months’ incarceration. Mr. Cheronis successfully negotiated a misdemeanor plea deal to a false statement charge, which resulted in OC receiving probation for one year.
People of the State of Illinois v. MK
Mr. Cheronis represented MK who was charged with 2 counts of First Degree Murder in Cook County, Illinois. At trial, the defense put forth the affirmative defense of insanity. In Illinois a person is not criminally responsible for conduct if at the time of such conduct, as a result of mental disease or mental defect, he lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his conduct. At trial, the defense called two renowned forensic psychiatrists who analyzed MK’s medical history as well as the facts of the case and testified that MK suffered from schizophrenia and was in a psychotic state at the time of the alleged murders. After a hotly contested trial, MK was found Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity
USA v. LRG
LRG was charged in federal court in the Northern District of Illinois with Conspiracy to Possess and Distribute Cocaine as well as 3 separate counts of possessing cocaine with the intent to distribute. The charges carried a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years. The government alleged that LRG was a cocaine broker who set up at least 2 multi- kilogram deals between a buyer and a seller. The government received information from one of the men allegedly involved with the deals who was arrested and became an informant. The informant placed a recorded phone call to a man the government claimed was LRG to set up a large cocaine transaction. The DEA then set up surveillance on LRG’s home and eventually searched and questioned LRG. The DEA testified at trial that LRG confessed 3 separate times to being the middle man for several multi-kilo cocaine deals. The government also introduced a recorded call that they alleged was LRG talking to their informant and GPS data that they claimed put LRG and the informant at the same location during alleged drug transactions. Mr. Cheronis represented LRG at trial. The jury returned NOT GUILTY verdicts on all counts.
GC v. et al.
Mr. Cheronis defended GC who was charged with assaulting a police officer. Several Chicago Police Officers entered GC’s home without a warrant. GC was pepper-sprayed and tasered before being arrested on charges of resisting arrest. Mr. Cheronis obtained a not guilty verdict at the criminal trial and sued the police in federal court for violating GC’s civil rights where he obtained $425,000 verdict for his client.
USA v. AJ
After a jury trial in the Northern District of Illinois, client found not guilty of a federal weapons charge and convicted of a single-count of possession of a small quantity of heroin.
People v. WC
Client was arrested after his semi-truck was searched and 200-pounds of a marijuana was recovered. All charges were dismissed before trial.
People v. Vasquez
JV was charged with First Degree Murder and 2 Counts of Attempt First Degree Murder arising out of a shooting that occurred in Chicago’s back of the yards neighborhood. The prosecution alleged that JV fired a gun from a moving vehicle as part of a gang retaliation. At trial the state called several alleged eyewitnesses to the shooting including a man who claimed he was driving the vehicle and witnessed JV fire the fatal shots. At trial, Mr. Cheronis attacked the state’s case focusing on the alleged eye witness/driver. The defense was able to establish through cross-examination that the alleged driver had been held in custody for 2 days and was fed information by the police. The defense rested without calling a single witness and the jury promptly returned a not guilty verdict on all counts.
People v. Velez
JV was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm while on federal parole. Mr. Cheronis was able to secure a dismissal of all charges on the day of trial.
People v. MC
MC was arrested and charged with being an Armed Habitual Offender, Possession of Controlled Substance, Possession of Cannabis and several other weapons offenses. The charges carried a sentencing range from 6-30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. Chicago Police officers testified that as they were on patrol in a high crime area where a homicide had recently occurred, they observed MC and 3 individuals walking in the street. The officers claimed they smelled a strong odor of burning cannabis and that they approached the men for an interview. The officers also testified that they observed a “round” bulge in MC’s left jacket pocket that, based on their experience, suggested he may be carrying drugs. Once MC was stopped one of the officers conducted a pat-down search of his left jacket pocket and felt what the officer thought was cannabis. A further search of MC allegedly revealed controlled substances and a handgun. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress and argued that the stop and frisk of MC was illegal and that it violated M.C.’s rights under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. After an evidentiary hearing and testimony of both M.C. and the arresting officers, the court agreed and suppressed all the evidence recovered during the search. The state dismissed all the charges.
USA v. MM
MM was charged in a mortgage fraud/bank fraud for allegedly supplying false information to banks that resulted in loans that eventually went into default. MM pled guilty and at sentencing received a 6-month sentence despite the advisory guideline sentencing range that suggested a 21 to 27-month sentence.
USA v. JC
JC was indicted in the Northern District of Illinois for stealing sensitive information from the Federal Reserve while an employee. Mr. Cheronis successfully negotiated a misdemeanor disposition for JC that resulted in a fine and house arrest while avoiding jail time.
USA v. JD
JD was charged in the Northern District of Illinois with making threats online toward students at a college campus. The matter was resolved with a deferred prosecution.
USA v. MB
MB was charged in the Northern District of Illinois with being a Felon in Possession of a firearm. The crime carried a potential sentence of 10 years in prison. Prior to trial all charges against MB were dismissed.
Illinois v. MP
MP was charged with Solicitation of Murder for Hire as well as Class Super X drug charges with a potential sentencing range that included 20- and 15-year minimums in the penitentiary. The prosecution accused MP of hiring a hitman to murder a former employee over a business dispute. The alleged “hitman” was an undercover police officer. The charges also claimed that MP paid the undercover officer with kilograms of cocaine and molly for the hit. Mr. Cheronis was hired to represent MP and did so over the course of 3 years. After investigating the facts of the case, asserting an entrapment defense and litigating several motions on his client’s behalf all of the charges were dismissed.
Illinois v. JW
Damon Cheronis represented JW in an Armed Habitual Offender case. JW was charged with possessing a firearm after having been convicted of several felonies. He was facing a potential 30-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The police claimed that they saw JW holding a gun and trying to hide it under a bed. Mr. Cheronis took the case to a jury and they returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
People v. IM
IM was arrested and charged with First Degree Murder. The state claimed that IM along with two other men stabbed a person to death on the streets of Chicago. The two other defendants charged with the murder pled guilty and received extended prison sentences. Mr. Cheronis represented IM at trial and the jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
People v. TB
TB was arrested for carrying a firearm into a federal courthouse in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Cheronis represented TB at trial and argued that TB did not “knowingly” carry the gun; rather, TB had merely forgotten the gun in his bag. TB was found NOT GUILTY.
People v. AV
AV was arrested and charged with Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. A Chicago Police officer testified that he observed several drug deals occurring in a backyard. The officer approached and claimed that he saw AV running from the yard with a gun in his hand. An hour later, the officer saw AV again and placed him under arrest. After he was placed under arrest AV told the officer that he hid the gun and he led the officer to the gun. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress arguing that the statements AV made to the police should be suppressed because he was not read his Miranda Warnings. The court agreed and suppressed AV’s statements as well as the gun. The state still proceeded to trial and AV was found NOT GUILTY.
USA v. AM
AM was arrested and charged with Human Trafficking. AM pled guilty and at his sentencing hearing his potential sentencing range was from 360 months to life in prison. Mr. Cheronis was able to secure a sentence of 120 months for AM.
USA v. VM
Mr. Cheronis represented a Chicago White Sox Scout who was convicted of wire fraud charges. He received the lowest sentence amongst his co-defendants.
USA v. SW
SW was charged with bribing a public official to receive contracts from the state. SW pled guilty and at the sentencing hearing his potential guidelines sentence was from 70 to 87 months. After presenting witnesses and mitigation at the hearing, SW received a sentence of 18 months-a sentence well below the guideline range.
USA v. AD
Mr. Cheronis was part of the defense team that represented AD in the historic Family Secrets Trial.
People of the State of Illinois v. Christopher Abernathy
Attorney Damon Cheronis worked with Investigator Sergio Serritella and Innocence Project to help free man after 30 years in jail for a crime he did not commit. A man who was wrongfully convicted of the murder and sexual assault of a teenage girl will be released from Stateville Correctional Center on Wednesday after serving almost 30 years behind bars.
Christopher Abernathy, 49, originally of Midlothian, Illinois, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the 1984 stabbing of Kristina Hickey, who was attacked while walking home after singing in a school concert.
A trial witness who testified that Abernathy confessed to him has since recanted his testimony and recently tested DNA evidence has excluded Abernathy as a potential perpetrator. Private detective Sergio Serritella obtained the witness recantation in the fall of 2014 and the Illinois Innocence Project arranged for the DNA testing. “It has been an honor to work with Chris’ family, attorneys, and teams of journalism students to make this day possible, and we’re forever grateful that our state’s attorney’s office acted in the interest of justice,” said Serritella, CEO of Chicago investigations firm Tactical Solutions. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to Kristina Hickey’s family, as the rapist and murderer who took Kristina’s life is still on the loose.”
In 2006 and 2007, Northwestern University students reported on the case on behalf of the Medill Innocence Project, a class that has since been discontinued. Abernathy’s legal team consists of attorneys Damon Cheronis and Lauren Kaeseberg and private detective Serritella.
“This day is more than 10,000 days overdue,” said Ann Kolus, Abernathy’s mother. “I always knew in my heart that Chris was innocent, and I’m so thankful that my prayers have been answered and he is finally coming home.”
People of State of Illinois v. DC
DC was charged with attempting to board an airplane with a firearm and Aggravated Unlawful Use of a Weapon. Mr. Cheronis obtained a not guilty verdict at trial.
People v. AR
AR and NR were arrested and charged with possession with the intent to distribute 80 grams cocaine-a class 1 felony punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Mr. Cheronis and Attorney Donna Rotunno filed a motion to suppress the evidence. At the hearing, the judge ruled that the police had no legal basis to search the vehicle and entered an order suppressing the evidence. The charges were dismissed.
People v. PD
Defendant was charged with possessing child pornography in 2001 and entered a plea of guilty. At the plea hearing, defendant was advised by his attorney and the court that he would have to register as a sex offender for a 10 year period. Defendant received probation and registered for 10 years. When the 10 year term for registration had expired, defendant learned that he actually had to register as a sex offender for life. Defendant had been given the wrong advice by his attorney regarding the registration period. Defendant contacted Mr. Cheronis filed a 2-1401 petition in the trial court asking the trial judge to vacate the plea of guilty based on ineffective assistance of counsel. The trial court denied the motion and the defendant appealed. The appellate court agreed with our position and vacated the plea of guilty, holding that the failure of defendant’s trial counsel to properly advise defendant of the lifetime registration requirement was ineffective assistance of counsel.
People v. RD
RD was arrested for possessing a firearm in Ada Park. The police claimed they received an anonymous tip from an individual who identified a man matching RD’s description selling drugs in the park. The police approached and searched RD and found a gun. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress arguing that the police had neither probable cause nor reasonable suspicion to conduct the search. The court agreed holding that the initial stop was appropriate, however the frisk and search exceeded the scope of the initial stop. The court suppressed the gun and the case was dismissed.
USA v. XX
Defendant was charged in a mortgage fraud scheme along with several other co-defendants. Mr. Cheronis was able to negotiate a plea to a misdemeanor charge.
USA v. LC
LC was charged in federal court with Possession of a Weapon by a felon. If convicted, the charge carried a potential sentence of 15 years in prison. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress evidence claiming that LC was the victim of an illegal search. After numerous hearings the motion was denied. The case went to a jury trial where the government presented the testimony of 2 members of law enforcement who testified that LC was seen running from the police onto a porch. Once the police approached, a struggle ensued and the police saw LC take a gun from under his leg and throw it onto the sidewalk. When the police took LC to the station they claim he confessed that the gun was his. After cross examination of the arresting officers, LC rested his case. After a short deliberation, the jury returned a not guilty verdict and LC went home.
People v. KP
KP was arrested and charged with possession of heroin with the intent to distribute. KP was stopped in his car near Laramie and North Ave by Chicago Police Officers who claimed they had witnessed what appeared to be a hand to hand drug transaction. Subsequent to the stop, the police said they saw marijuana in “plain view” in KP’s car. Subsequently KP was searched and 20 bags of heroin were recovered. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress and argued that the initial stop was without probable cause and that all of the subsequent searches and seizures were illegal. The Court agreed and granted the motion to suppress after which the state dismissed the charges.
People v. FM
Defendant charged with aggravated child pornography that carried a potential sentence of 7 years in the penitentiary. After investigating the case, Mr. Cheronis successfully negotiated a reduction in the charges from a felony to a non-sex misdemeanor offense. Defendant pled guilty to a Class C misdemeanor disorderly conduct and received court supervision. Sex offender registration avoided.
USA v. LJ
LJ was charged with the Federal Crimes including possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The offense carried with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years. LJ was arrested by the Chicago Police Department and the ATF as part of a federal drug investigation. After his arrest, LJ and the police agreed that LJ would be released if he could obtain guns for the police. After a series of calls, 3 guns were dropped off in a dumpster and LJ was questioned by the police after they were recovered. During the questioning, the police claimed that LJ admitted to using the guns to protect his drug spot. LJ was released by the police, but only temporarily. 2 months later he was arrested in a large scale drug conspiracy and charged with possessing the very weapons he had obtained for the police.
Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress arguing that the statements LJ made to the police were involuntary because they were obtained through fraud and false promises of freedom. At the hearing law enforcement denied that they ever offered LJ his freedom for the guns and the government argued that all of the statements were voluntary and admissible.
The government witnesses were cross examined by Mr. Cheronis and it was clear that the officers did in fact offer LJ his freedom for the guns. The Court agreed and granted the motion to suppress, holding that the statements LJ allegedly made to the police could not be admitted at trial. Because this was the only evidence tying the guns to a drug crime, the government dismissed the gun charge.
People v. KP
KP was arrested in a car while parked in the driveway of his home. Subsequent to his arrest, Chicago Police officers searched the car and discovered 62 packages of heroin. If convicted the case carried a 14-year prison sentence.
Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to suppress arguing that the search of the car was illegal.
During the hearing the police officer claimed that KP was sitting in his car, on private property, with the door open and one foot resting on a public sidewalk while drinking a beer. The officer’s testimony, if true, would have allowed the officer to place KP under arrest for drinking on a public way and potentially allowed him to lawfully search the car.
Several witnesses were called by the defense who refuted the claim of the officer. In addition, after cross examination, the court found the officer’s testimony not credible.
After a hearing on the motion, and testimony of witnesses, the court granted the motion to suppress the evidence and the case was dismissed.
People v. EM
EM was charged with Armed Robbery, Kidnapping, and Unlawful restraint.
The State alleged that EM and another individual approached the victim at gunpoint and stole money and other personal items. EM was identified by the victim in a photo array and a during a lineup.
Mr. Cheronis took the case to trial and EM was found Not Guilty and released.
People of the State of Illinois v. DL
DL was indicted by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and charged with Theft by Deception of $225,000 as well as forgery. The case carried a potential 14 year sentence and was featured on ABC 7 News Chicago, as the “Price of Love”
The complaining witness alleged that DL “romanced” her before asking her to give him $225,000 to invest. According to the State, DL used the money for his personal benefit and never made investments.
The matter went to trial and during the cross-examination of the complaining witness the judge stopped the proceedings and entered a finding of Not Guilty.
People of the State of Illinois v. JRD
JRD was arrested in Cicero, Illinois after the police entered his apartment and seized a kilogram of methamphetamine, cocaine, and marijuana. The crime carried with it a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years.
The Cicero police claimed that they had received a “tip” from a concerned citizen regarding the presence of drugs in the apartment. Rather than obtaining a warrant, the police went to the apartment, knocked on the door, and claimed that JRD and the co-defendant had consented to the search.
Cheronis and Todd S. Pugh (of Breen Pugh and Associates), filed a motion to suppress the evidence. At the hearing on the motion to suppress, the landlords of JRD’s apartment testified that Cicero Police Officers knocked on their door in the middle of the night, claiming there was a hostage situation upstairs. The landlords let them in based on this representation, and allowed them to go to the upstairs apartment where the search occurred.
Testimony by JRD’s co-defendant established that the Cicero Police also knocked on the upstairs door and said they were looking for a “missing girl.”
The Cicero Police denied ever referring to a hostage situation.
At the close of evidence, the Court granted the motion to suppress. The Court determined that the alleged “consent” was obtained through trickery and invalid. The evidence was suppressed and the case was dismissed.
People v. JP
JP was charged with stealing over $55,000 from his employees 401K accounts. It was clear that JP was innocent of the charges and a trial was the only way to clear his name. The case did proceed to trial and JP was found NOT GUILTY of each and every charge.
People v. AV
AV was charged with a non-probational class X felony for possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute. This charge carried with it a sentencing range from 6-30 years in jail. After investigating the case and filing a Motion to Suppress evidence, Mr. Cheronis was able to secure a plea agreement that led to probation.
People v. TP
TP was arrested and charged with stealing computer equipment from his employer. The matter went to trial and TP was found NOT GUILTY.
People v. JK
JK was arrested and charged with robbery. The police testified that JK was seen fleeing the area of the robbery and arrested him within minutes of the crime. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to dismiss that was denied. However, after the case went to trial, JK was found not guilty.
People v. LW
LW was charged with a number of offenses, the most serious being attempted murder with a possible 30-year sentence. Before trial the prosecution offered a plea deal with a 4 year prison sentence. The offer was rejected and the case continued to trial. After discrediting the state’s key witness on cross-examination, the prosecution offered to dismiss the most serious charges and offered probation.
United States of America v. Defendant
Defendant was charged in the United States District Court in Maryland with the offense of conspiring to harbor illegal aliens. The charge carried with it a term of five years imprisonment. After investigating the case and filing pre-trial motions, Mr. Cheronis convinced the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor. The sentence was 6 months probation with no jail time and a fine.
People v. MF
Defendant was accused of murder in a southside project. Mr. Cheronis was part of a defense team that helped acquit the defendant after a jury trial.
United States of America v. DE
DE was charged with stealing government monies in connection with his state employment. Mr. Cheronis negotiated a plea agreement that resulted in a sentence of probation.
People v. CF
Defendant was accused of murder on Chicago’s West Side. Following a jury trial Mr. Cheronis was part of a team that helped win the defendant’s acquittal.
People v. WG
Defendant was arrested for attempted burglary and violating an order of protection in Will County. An eyewitness placed the defendant at the scene attempting to enter the residence. Mr. Cheronis tried the case and the defendant was acquitted.
People v. FO
Mr. Cheronis represented the defendant after he was arrested in Cicero, Illinois for battery of a child. Following the arrest, the police alleged that the defendant confessed to the crime. Mr. Cheronis moved to suppress the confession based on the illegality of the arrest. The Court suppressed the confession holding that, because the arrest was warrantless and without probable cause, the subsequent confession was inadmissible. The prosecution proceeded to trial and the defendant was found not guilty.
People v. Defendant
The defendant was charged with attempted murder for a shooting that took place on the Eisenhower Expressway. Following a trial the defendant was found not guilty of attempted murder. He received boot camp for reckless discharge of a firearm.
People v. FN and HN
Mr. Cheronis represented two brothers charged with home invasion. Mr. Cheronis took the case to trial and the two were found not guilty after vigorous cross examination of the alleged victims.
People v. AR
The defendant was charged with possession of cocaine. Mr. Cheronis tried the case, and the defendant was found Not Guilty.
People v. LR
The defendant was arrested for Aggravated Unlawful Possession of a Firearm. If convicted, the defendant faced up to 30 years in jail. Mr. Cheronis filed a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence based on illegal police conduct. Following an evidentiary hearing and cross examination of the police officers, the court granted the motion and the case was dismissed.
People v. Defendant
The defendant was arrested after his car was stopped and a handgun was found in his vehicle. Mr. Cheronis took the case to trial and received a not guilty verdict for his client.
People v. Defendant
The defendant was stopped by the Maywood Police Department and search of his car revealed cocaine. Mr. Cheronis argued that the search of the defendant’s car was unconstitutional. The court agreed and suppressed the drugs. The prosecution was forced to dismiss the case.
P v. D
In one of the few civil cases Mr. Cheronis handles, he represented a well known bank for fraudulent practices in regards to a loan. Following a two week bench trial, the bank was cleared of any wrongdoing.
People v. AD
The defendant was arrested in his car and a search revealed narcotics. After a motion to suppress, Mr. Cheronis had the case dismissed.
People v. JC
The defendant was charged with Aggravated Battery of a minor. Mr. Cheronis took the case to trial and impeached key state witnesses on several points. The Judge dismissed the case at the close of the state’s evidence based on the cross-examinations.
People v. MF
The defendant was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver over 2000 pills of ecstasy and possession of several stolen motor vehicles, all serious felonies.
After a lengthy hearing on a Motion to Suppress Evidence, Mr. Cheronis helped convince the Criminal Court Judge in DuPage County that the Special Task Force that conducted the search and gathered the evidence had arrested the Defendant without probable cause. Because the arrest was illegal, the Court held, the subsequent search that uncovered the contraband was also illegal. A task force made up of four law enforcement agencies had contributed to the investigation and arrest. After the Motion to Suppress Evidence was granted, the State could not proceed to trial and all charges were dismissed.
People v. RC
Mr. Cheronis helped defend a man that was charged with attempted murder. Several eye witnesses identified the defendant in open court as the shooter. The jury was hung 8 to 4 in favor of not guilty.
People v. CJ
CJ was charged with aggravated battery of a senior citizen and faced a minimum of 3 years in prison.
CJ vehemently denied all charges. Mr. Cheronis took the case to trial and a jury found delivered NOT GUILTY verdicts on all charges.