McIlvaine released from jail
GENEVA – Clifford McIlvaine was ordered to be released from jail Thursday morning, with the judge saying he hoped that the threat of having the St. Charles resident's home demolished was enough to bring an end to a home-improvement project that started in 1975.
McIlvaine, 71, had been jailed for two weeks for contempt. He appeared in court dressed in orange Kane County Jail-issued clothing, and he was in handcuffs, escorted by officials from the Kane County Sheriff's Department. Kane County Judge Thomas Mueller ordered McIlvaine jailed because the longtime St. Charles resident has refused to comply with city's plumbing code as part of the project at his home at 605 Prairie St.
But on Thursday, Mueller noted that the city has filed court papers seeking to demolish the house or finish the work for McIlvaine. The case is due back in court on Sept. 20
"I have a hard time believing Mr. McIlvaine will be so stubborn that he would watch his house – which he has been hard at work on for many, many years – be torn down," Mueller said.
Supporters of McIlvaine packed the courtroom in the Kane County Courthouse in Geneva. Many of them have been picketing in front of the St. Charles City Hall. Some reacted with a smile after Mueller made his ruling. And as the courtroom emptied after McIlvaine's case was heard, a couple of supporters exchanged high-fives.
Outside of the courtroom, Steven Gottlieb, a West Chicago man who said he is a friend of McIlvaine's, said McIlvaine "needed to get out" because holding McIlvaine will not help the work get done.
"The judge was wise in releasing him," Gottlieb said. "Cliff will not change his mind."
Another McIlvaine supporter, Drew Whitehead, said he was glad McIlvaine was released, adding that "it just didn't make any sense to have him in jail."
Mueller on Thursday asked McIlvaine whether he was ready to change his answer. McIlvaine said he would not.
"My answer is still the same," McIlvaine said.
Phil Luetkehans, the attorney who has been representing the city in the case, was not in court. Reached later, he said that the hope is that McIlvaine will do as the judge hopes.
"We understand the judge's position," Luetkehans said. "And we hope, along with the judge, that the real possibility of demolition or paying for us to finish the building will motivate Mr. McIlvaine to finish this project in the way that he already agreed to do."
According to the Kane County Sheriff's website, McIlvaine was released from jail at 11:07 a.m.
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