CBS (CHICAGO) – Mario Cupello was charged with ten felonies, accused of scamming his west suburban landscaping clients.
But when Cupello, a convicted felon, appeared before Judge Stanley Hill he was released on an I-bond, or a no cash bond.
Prosecutors had asked Hill to issue Cupello a $100,000 bond, noting his criminal background included felony convictions for car-jacking, burglary and aggravated robbery.
“I am not going to follow the recommendation on this one,” Hill said, according to a transcript of the March 21, 2018 court hearing.
Instead, he let Cupello, 46, walk out of jail without paying a dime.
“I flipped,” says Robert Arnold, the nephew of a 91-year-old woman who accused Cupello of theft. “I go, ‘are you kidding me this guy gets 10 frigging I-Bonds?’”
Elmwood Park Police arrested Cupello again a day later. This time he stood accused of misdemeanor domestic battery.
His alleged victim, Denise Montalbano, tells 2 Investigator Brad Edwards that Cupello “grabbed me in a bear hug and he squeezed me.”
She bit his chest to break the hold.
“You scared of him?” Edwards asked.
“Petrified,” Montalbano replied. “Petrified.”
Legal analyst Irv Miller says Hill’s alleged leniency in this case raises questions.
“[Cupello] is kind of like a one man crime wave,” Miller says. “He’s facing a mandatory six to 30 [years] in the penitentiary if he gets convicted. It’s not the case for an I-bond.”
Cupello is now in Cook County Jail awaiting trial. His bond has now been set at $100,000.
Hill declined to comment.
Edwards interviewed many of Cupello’s alleged victims and the Elmwood Park Police. All said they were surprised by Hill’s actions.
“I was surprised, based on Cupello’s background, that not one charge would warrant some type of bond to keep him in custody,” Elmwood Park Police Chief Frank Fagiano said in a statement.
Edwards last reported on Hill in 2017.
The judge had found Cornell McWilliams not guilty of a sex offense, despite video evidence of McWilliams assaulting a woman and fondling himself in a gas station.
Hill reversed course after the story aired, requiring McWilliams to register as a sex offender.