When a public figure is accused of a crime, we expect the legal system to treat him or her as it would everyone else.
The accused public figure should not be getting any breaks that others accused of a crime do not receive. And at the same time, he or she, when charged with a crime outside of the realm of public office, should not be treated any more harshly.
That brings us to the case of Hebron Village President-elect John Jacobson.
Jacobson was charged in January with unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, a Class 1 felony, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony, after police say they found about 3 grams of crack cocaine in his car.
Police began investigating Jacobson after a tipster claimed he was trading crack cocaine to McHenry County College students for sexual favors, according to a police report from Jacobson’s arrest. Jacobson worked in the building maintenance department at MCC, but he was fired after the arrest.
Jacobson has not been convicted of a crime. His criminal case is ongoing. He maintains his innocence.
Earlier this month, Hebron voters elected Jacobson their village president. With 61 percent of the vote, Jacobson defeated incumbent Frank Beatty.
If Jacobson is convicted of a felony, Illinois law requires he be removed from office. But if he is acquitted or convicted of a misdemeanor, he could serve his four-year term as village president.
It’s common practice in many first-time drug cases for prosecutors to plead down to lesser charges, such as misdemeanors, and require defendants to receive treatment rather than jail time.
Without talking specifically about what could happen with Jacobson’s case, State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi said his office would not treat Jacobson differently than any other defendant, even though he is president-elect of Hebron.
Hebron’s voters overwhelmingly elected Jacobson after his arrest was public knowledge. It’s not up to the State’s Attorney’s Office to worry about whether Jacobson should or should not hold that elected office.
Jacobson’s case should move forward as if he were any other defendant.