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Judge rejects plea for sentence reduction in fatal DUI

Published: Friday, June 14, 2013 5:30 a.m. CST

ST. CHARLES TOWNSHIP – A judge rejected a plea to reduce the sentence of a man serving a 10-year sentence in a drunken driving conviction that killed two people.

Kane County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Stanfa on Thursday rejected a plea by Thomas Ofenloch Jr., 29, to consider the 21/2 years he spent on home monitoring while the case was pending. Ofenloch sent the two-page request from the Lincoln Correctional Center in Lincoln, where he is serving his sentence.

Ofenloch wrote that releasing him early would be less expensive and more effective than the prison system.

“I feel I can do more good for society outside of prison, rather than playing cards and watching television,” Ofenloch wrote.

Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon, who opposed Ofenloch’s request, said the filing was coming almost two years too late.

“It was not just a day late, not a week late,” McMahon said. “And he did not raise the issue on his appeal,” which he lost. 

Rejecting his petition now “was the right thing to happen, absolutely, yes,” McMahon said.

Ofenloch was 23 at the time of the Aug. 4, 2007, crash in Sugar Grove that killed Andrew Berger and Joshua Sutton, both 21 and of Batavia, who were with him.

According to court records, Ofenloch drove north on Dugan Road, through the intersection, over a ditch and into the field, eventually becoming airborne and hitting a tree that split the vehicle in two. 

Both Ofenloch and his attorney at the time, J. Brick Van Der Snick, had asked credit for Ofenloch’s time served on home monitoring, and for consideration since Ofenloch completed an alcohol program and was speaking to groups at a substance abuse treatment center. 

But now retired Judge Timothy Sheldon rejected that consideration in sentencing Ofenloch to 10 years with the requirement that he serve 85 percent of his sentence.

Ofenloch’s projected parole date is Aug. 17, 2018, with a  discharge date of Aug. 20, 2020, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections website.

Ofenloch’s letter also claims that Van Der Snick did not give him good advice, to put in a “blind plea of guilty,” and would likely receive probation or at least a reduction in sentence because of his time served on home monitoring.

Van Der Snick said he argued extensively for Ofenloch to get credit for 923 days of home monitoring. As to his former client’s criticism, Van Der Snick said, “I am not surprised but really offended.”

“We made the argument that he made a mistake, he admitted to it, pled guilty, apologized, was on electronic home monitoring 923 days, felt terrible, was voluntarily talking on his own victim impact panels,” Van Der Snick said. “We felt those were extraordinary.”

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