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Geneva man in court on charges he falsely claimed to have a gun

ST. CHARLES – When a Geneva man falsely told a 911 dispatcher that he had a gun, his words initiated an emergency police response when there was no emergency, a Kane County prosecutor said in opening statements during an Oct. 30 trial.

Jeffrey N. Ward, 59, of the 100 block of Abbey Lane, was charged with disorderly conduct Jan. 6 for an incident that occurred Nov. 18, 2016, officials said.

"It was a false emergency created by him," Assistant Kane County State’s Attorney Ryan Merkel said.

Ward had called 911 to report his mailbox had been vandalized for the third time in two weeks amid a neighbor dispute, according to testimony and the 911 recordings.

Ward called back about a half hour later – around 10:30 p.m. – saying he was at a house in the 3400 block of Wild Prairie Lane in Geneva, where his son had traced the vandalism to a white Jeep there, according to testimony from Andrew Kunstler, a supervisor at TriCom Emergency Dispatch.

Kunstler said he asked Ward whether there were any weapons.

“He stated there was a gun in his back pocket,” Kunstler testified.

Geneva Police Sgt. Bradley Jerdee testified that six officers on duty responded with lights and sirens, leaving a seventh officer on duty on the city’s east side.

“It was dispatched as a subject with a gun,” Jerdee testified. “We did not know what to expect.”

When officers arrived, Ward and his son were standing in the street on Wild Prairie Lane. They put their hands up as police told them and were patted down, but no gun was found, Jerdee testified.

Jerdee said he asked Ward why he had talked about a gun.

“He said it would get us there faster," Jerdee said.

Ward's attorney Jeffrey Meyer asked the judge to dismiss the charge, stating the complaint did not meet the requirements of state law, as it used the wrong part of the statute. He asserted the charge did not state what public service agency was impacted.

Meyer also argued that Ward did not make a false “report” about having a gun, because he called 911 to report vandalism to his mailbox.

Meyer said the definition of "report" could be so broad as to mean anything is a "report," such as something spoken or written.

“The word ‘report’ is not defined in caselaw,” Merkel said.

DeKalb Circuit Court Judge Bradley Waller, who heard the case in Kane County Branch Court, said he would take Meyer's motions under advisement. Waller also asked the attorneys to keep looking for caselaw on the definition of “report.”

Court records show the Kane County Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles ordered that a judge outside the 16th Circuit be substituted for a Kane County judge for this case.

Waller said the trial will reconvene on Dec. 28.

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