Laundry room burglar’ back in court

Brian Rosenthal

SKOKIE – With a handful of protesting residents in attendance, a judge decided there was enough evidence to proceed with the trial against a man accused of stealing quarters from a basement laundry room.

In a hearing Tuesday morning, Cook County Associate Judge Marcia Orr declared probable cause against Jose Clark Jr., 27, in the December 2007 burglary of a coin-operated washing machine. While he was charged with burglary and theft from a coin-operated machine, prosecutors decided to proceed with only the burglary charge.

Clark, who lives on the 2000 block of Howard Street, spent June through November in jail after being sentenced to six years in prison for two similar burglaries. Despite the multi-year sentence, he was released on parole Nov. 13.

At the hearing, a police officer presented a report with the evidence against Clark, who was brought in by police.

The defendant didn’t present any evidence.

When officers spotted Clark three weeks ago, he was carrying eight bags of quarters and a hex wrench, authorities said.

Physical evidence discovered at the scene of the year-old burglary linked Clark to the scene, according to an Evanston Police Department statement released Jan. 9. A follow-up investigation “verified Clark’s involvement” in the burglary, which involved a pry tool and $50 of missing quarters, said EPD Cmdr. Tom Guenther.

The charges were the same allegations that landed Clark in jail last year. Residents of Evanston’s Eighth Ward, where all of the burglaries took place, attended several of last year’s court hearings to protest a court system they said was too lenient on criminals.

The residents were in attendance again Tuesday.

“We’re just here to express the community opinion and be present,” said Gary Brooks, coordinator of the Brummel Park Neighborhood Watch, at the hearing. “We’re tired of people breaking into houses and taking property and the judge letting them go.”

Brooks, who has said that Clark’s case illustrates the failures of the parole system, called his crimes quirky and dangerous.

“I don’t know if he gets a kick out of it,” he said. “But it’s a pain. I’d be highly upset.”

Clark’s trial is scheduled to begin with an arraignment Feb. 17 in Skokie.

Christina Chaey contributed to this [email protected]