A federal judge cut a mob figure’s tough decades-long prison sentence in half Wednesday, imposing a new 30-year sentence on a man who successfully challenged his conviction for a 2003 pipe bomb blast in Berwyn.
U.S. District Judge Ronald Guzman handed down the sentence to Mark Polchan, 54, who Guzman had once sentenced to 60 years in prison. He did so at the end of a hearing in which Polchan appeared in prison garb and acknowledged the seriousness of his crimes.
“I just want to apologize to everybody,” said Polchan, a high-ranking member of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club. “That’s all I can do. I’ve done my best. Thank you for listening.”
Upon hearing his new sentence, Polchan nodded approvingly toward his attorney.
Polchan faced sentencing all over again Wednesday after his successful challenge to the conviction related to the pipe bomb blast. A jury had also convicted Polchan of racketeering, illegal gambling, tax fraud and other crimes, but half of Polchan’s original 60-year sentence accounted only for his use of a destructive device during a crime of violence.
Guzman found Polchan’s conviction on that count “must be vacated” after the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Polchan permission to challenge it. Polchan had pointed to a Supreme Court ruling that struck down one definition of a “crime of violence” as unconstitutionally vague.
Prosecutors agreed with the judge that the conviction could not stand. But in a court memo, they suggested the judge could entertain a new sentencing “package” for Polchan. They wrote that none of the underlying facts of his case have changed “one iota,” and they sought a sentence of between 30 years and life in prison.
“Mark Polchan stood at the center of an organized criminal enterprise and directed its members as they robbed, shot, stabbed, stole, and preyed upon the citizens of this and other communities over the course of years,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachu wrote in the memo. “He corrupted law enforcement and cheated on his taxes for years on end. All that remains as true today as it did when he was sentenced in 2011.”
Polchan was also “personally involved in the bombing of C&S Coin Operated Amusements” in Berwyn after its owner ignored a threat from reputed Cicero mob boss Michael Sarno to “stay the f--- away” from a restaurant where illegal gambling machines had been installed, Bhachu wrote.
William Hardwicke, Polchan’s attorney, insisted in his own memo that “there is no basis” for the judge to increase Polchan’s sentence for the remaining counts above the 30 years he’d already handed to Polchan. But Hardwicke argued that there is “a strong basis” for reducing it, including changes to the law and Polchan’s behavior in prison. He asked the judge to cut Polchan’s sentence down to 20 years in prison.
Polchan also apologized to the judge in a two-page letter filed with the court.
“I don’t want to make this letter just about me,” Polchan wrote. “I want the victims in this case to know I do sincerely apologize for all the anguish it caused them and their families. I wish I could do more. But all I can say is what I mean and that is that I am truly sorry.”