Outlaws’ Mark Polchan to get new sentencing hearing this fall thanks to Supreme Court

Judge who gave Polchan 60 years in 2011 says conviction accounting for half that sentence “must be vacated.”

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Dirksen Federal Courthouse


A mob figure handed a tough 60-year sentence in 2011 by a federal judge who labeled him a “professional criminal” will get a new sentencing hearing this fall thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, court records show.

Mark Polchan, a high-ranking member of the Outlaws motorcycle club, is set to be re-sentenced Nov. 12 after he successfully challenged his arson conviction related to a pipe bomb blast in Berwyn in 2003.

For now, prison records show the 52-year-old Polchan is being held in a medium-security facility in Wisconsin and is not due to go free until 2059.

Though a jury also convicted Polchan in 2010 of racketeering, illegal gambling, tax fraud and other crimes, half of the lengthy sentence handed down to Polchan by U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman accounted only for his use of a destructive device during a crime of violence.

Guzman wrote in an order late last month that Polchan’s conviction on that count “must be vacated,” though. He did so after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Polchan permission in April to challenge that conviction. Polchan had pointed to a Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down one definition of a “crime of violence” as unconstitutionally vague.

Prosecutors agreed that the conviction could not stand, according to Guzman’s order.

Polchan oversaw a group of men who robbed jewelry stores and also arranged for the bombing of a Berwyn storefront that was competing with a video-poker business run by reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Sarno, who was later sentenced to 25 years in prison.

When Polchan was sentenced in 2011, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu said Polchan “was in the epicenter of an organized criminal society and committed crime after crime over a period of approximately seven years.”

“For a seven-year period, Mr. Polchan was operating a business where theft was a way of life,” Bhachu said. “He was stealing things, such as cigarettes, having them sold in his business to various individuals, all as a regular-day occurrence. Every day, in and out, this man was committing crime.”

Even though Polchan was likely to get a hefty sentence for the arson during his original sentencing hearing, Bhachu asked the judge not to go easy on him for his other crimes. He asked Guzman to consider what might happen if one of Polchan’s convictions was overturned on appeal.

“Does the defendant get a gift? A windfall?” Bhachu said in 2011. “It shouldn’t be that way.”

In the end, Guzman called Polchan a “professional criminal,” handing him 30 years for the count that Polchan has now successfully challenged and 30 years for his other crimes.

“The public needs to be protected both from Mr. Polchan and from the idea that organized criminal activity might well be worth something, might well be worth doing,” Guzman said.

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