ST. CHARLES – A Geneva man accused of falsely telling a 911 operator that he had a gun was acquitted of disorderly conduct Dec. 28 after a judge found prosecutors had failed to show his behavior was criminal.
Jeffrey N. Ward, 59, of the 100 block of Abbey Lane, was charged almost two months after the incident occurred on Nov. 18, 2016.
Prosecutors charged Ward because they said he told a 911 operator that he had a gun when he did not, triggering an emergency response from police when there was no emergency. Six of the seven Geneva officers on duty that evening responded to the call, Geneva police Sgt. Bradley Jerdee testified during the trial.
Court records show prosecutors did not file charges against Ward until weeks later, on Jan. 6.
DeKalb County Judge Bradley Waller granted a motion from Ward's attorney, Jeffrey Meyer, for a directed verdict. Waller agreed with Meyer that because Ward had not called 911 to report that he had a gun, he was not guilty.
“Mr. Ward called in for … the vandalism,” Waller said. “In response to a question by the 911 operator from Tri-Com [Central Dispatch], he was asked if he had a gun or a weapon. And his response was that he did. I see that as a distinguishing factor here. … I believe that the state has not met its burden.”
Ward called 911 to report his mailbox had been vandalized for a third time in two weeks amid a neighbor dispute, according to testimony and 911 recordings. He called back about 30 minutes later to report that he was 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. A 911 dispatch supervisor testified that Ward said he had a gun in his back pocket during that call.
Jerdee testified that after Ward and his son were patted down at the scene and no weapon was found, Ward told him that he claimed to have a gun so police would respond more quickly.
Waller’s ruling concluded a trial at Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles that had been continued from Oct. 30.
Ward has been publicly critical of the Kane County judiciary and Geneva police. Court records show Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles substituted a judge outside the 16th Circuit to hear the case.