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Return of sex offender from Ohio costs county $11,000
June 07, 2015 6:45 am • Edith Brady-Lunny firstname.lastname@example.org
BLOOMINGTON — A stop in Bloomington to cash a check following his release from prison cost James Grimm six months in jail and McLean County taxpayers almost $11,000.
The arrest of the 76-year-old resident of an Ohio nursing home and his return to McLean County for lengthy criminal proceedings was not necessary or cost effective, said McLean County Public Defender Carla Barnes.
"He had no intention of staying here. He was plucked out of a nursing home and spent 180 days in jail. The Sex Offender Registration Act is not meant for people like this," said Barnes, whose office represented Grimm.
Grimm left the Department of Corrections on June 13, 2014, having completed a nine-year sentence for predatory criminal sexual assault in a 2002 McLean County case. Grimm, like an estimated 1,500 other sex offenders in Illinois prisons, also completed about three years of parole in prison because he lacked an approved residence when his term was served.
Homeless, Grimm signed an IDOC form that said he would register as a sex offender three days after his release.
Grimm got off a train June 14 in Bloomington and met a friend who agreed to help him cash a $855 check from his prison commissary account. After the check was cashed that day, Grimm tried to secure a bus ticket to Cleveland, Ohio.
"The bus company said I was too old to get on the bus, said I wouldn't be able to handle the trip," said the 76-year-old who battles leukemia.
So, Grimm boarded an Amtrak train on June 18 bound for Cleveland where he stayed at a shelter before being hospitalized and moving into a nursing home.
According to Grimm, he completed sex offender registration shortly after he arrived in Ohio.
The day after Grimm left Illinois, Bloomington police received a tip that Grimm had been in the city. BPD officer Shawn Albert started an investigation to find Grimm. Two months later, Albert checked a possible address in Ohio for Grimm and noted that he was not on the offender registration list.
Albert recommended Grimm be arrested for violation of Illinois' sex offender registration rules.
According to McLean County Assistant State's Attorney David Spence, the lack of verification of an Ohio registration was the impetus for the McLean County warrant.
"It took the trip back here to unravel this whole thing. The state of Illinois had an obligation to track him," said Spence.
About four months after he left Bloomington, and after Grimm had moved to a new nursing and had reported his new address to Cleveland police, he was arrested.
"They put the cuffs on me and said, 'Illinois wants you," said Grimm, who never faced charges in Ohio for a registration violation.
A van from Prisoner Transport Services took Grimm and several other inmates through five states, picking up and dropping off prisoners before arriving in Bloomington on Nov. 13.
"I was never so happy to see a county jail," said Grimm.
Plea negotiations on the registration charges included an offer of two years' probation, something the critically ill inmate turned down. "That would mean living in a tent city and I knew I couldn't do that," said Grimm.
The threat of a return to IDOC for three years was a better option than living on the streets, he said.
In the end, Grimm was sentenced in April to conditional discharge and allowed to return to Cleveland.
Grimm said he received good medical care at the McLean County jail. With the $1,437 in medical costs added to the $336 transport fee and $9,150 in detention costs, taxpayers paid almost $11,000 to prosecute the elderly sex offender.
"It's been one miserable experience," said Grimm.
Barnes said she is pleased that an agreement was reached with the state to return Grimm to Ohio.
"We wanted to do what was in the state's best interest and his," said Spence.