WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) — After deliberating for more than 6 hours, the jury in the trial of former Waukegan basketball star and former Fighting Illini player Jereme Richmond found him guilty on 2 of 3 counts of harassment of a witness, including conveying a threat of personal injury or property damage, the News-Sun is reporting.
According to prosecutors, the harassment charges resulted from verbal threats and shooting gestures Richmond made after he became upset when his probation officer wouldn’t let him take a make-up drug test instead of requiring him to appear in court for allegedly violating conditions of his probation.
The case centered on incidents Thursday, April 25, a day before the probation officer was scheduled to state in a court hearing the next day that Richmond had not taken a scheduled drug test that Monday and failed to do so Tuesday, too, when she and another officer visited his home.
Just before the probation office closed on April 25, Richmond came in and wanted to submit a urine test in lieu of the previously missed tests. The probation officer refused him, saying the office was closing for the day and she would see him in court the next morning.
Officials said Richmond, who was upset, told the officer to “be safe. be real safe,” as he was leaving the building. He then waited across the street in his parked car for several minutes before backing out of the spot and making what two secretaries and an IT employee, who were watching out of a window, described as shooting gestures with his hand before circling the office in the car and being pulled over by sheriff’s deputies.
In closing arguments, Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman portrayed Richmond as someone who tried to manipulate the probation system — first by attempting to schedule his drug testing on his timeline instead of the court’s, and then by harassing his probation officer on the eve of his court date.
“We’re not on a basketball court,” Newman told the jury. “He’s not working a ref to get a call. You don’t work your probation officer. They are a witness and it’s illegal.”
Defense attorney Lawrence Wade repeated his contention from opening statements that employees of the probation office worked themselves into a state of hysteria and saw threats that did not exist. “It’s like the big fish story,” Wade said. “Over time it grows out of proportion and the story gets bigger and better every time you hear it.”
Wade also reiterated differences in the details of some of the events recounted by witnesses who testified.
Richmond has remained in Lake County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond since the incident. He faces probation or three to seven years in prison. His sentencing date has been set for Sept. 26.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)