Lawsuit: Sheriff jailed dozens because of faulty electronic monitoring devices

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Dozens of defendants who had been free on bond were locked up last month because faulty electronic monitoring devices relayed that they had left their homes while on house arrest, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday against Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Michael Arquero was arrested at his home during the pre-dawn hours on Feb. 7 and spent six days in jail before a judge ruled that the alert sent to sheriff’s officials was caused by a malfunctioning locator anklet, the lawsuit states.

Arquero had a more low-key visit from sheriff’s officers nearly a year earlier, when they stopped by his home to check his anklet in 2018, said Arquero’s lawyer, Gregory Kulis. Arquero sat with the officers in his house as they called the sheriff’s office to report the device was malfunctioning, and showed that Arquero was not in proximity to the monitoring device “box” installed in his home.

“He heard them say to the operator, ‘Well, we know it’s not working right, because we’re sitting right here with him in his house,’” Kulis said on Monday.

The sheriff’s office does not have a widespread problem with malfunctioning monitoring devices, and Arquero was taken into custody after numerous “movement violations,” said Cara Smith, Dart’s director of policy.

“We have 2,200 people on EM, and (Arquero) was charged with serious, violent crimes, and we monitor those people a little more closely, as the public should expect,” Smith said.

“We vehemently deny these allegations and there is not a shred of evidence that (Arquero), much less the alleged ‘dozens’ had equipment issues. These allegations are absolutely baseless.”

Smith added that no one from the sheriff’s office was in court for the hearing at which a judge ruled that his violation was actually an equipment malfunction.

Arquero said he was in a jail holding area after his recent arrest with numerous other defendants who had been picked up the same day for EM violations based on malfunctioning devices. Kulis said he believed the sheriff’s office had staged a round-up of EM “fugitives” as they tried to get ahead of a WLS-Channel 7 news report that aired on Feb. 11 that said there were 300 people on EM whom the sheriff’s office could not locate.

“People in the sheriff’s office are well aware of these malfunctions, and instead of checking to see if people actually are where they are supposed to be, they go round people up and try to sort it out later,” said Kulis.

Smith denied Arquero — whose lawsuit seeks class-action status — or other EM detainees were targeted because of the report.

Arquero is facing gun charges for a 2016 shooting that left one person dead. Arquero, who has a concealed carry license, has argued that he opened fire on a car after a passenger in the vehicle fired on him and a crowd of people. Arquero’s return volley killed the driver of the vehicle and wounded the passenger, but Arquero was then shot by police who arrived at the scene, according to a separate lawsuit Arquero has filed against the officers and the Chicago Police Department.

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