Metro-East News

June 17, 2014

Prosecutor seeks license suspension in deadly hit-and-run

A man charged in connection with the fatal hit-and-run of a woman in Breese is free on bail, but Clinton County's prosecutor is asking that his driving privileges be suspended.

Clinton County State's Attorney John Hudspeth has asked Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White's office to suspend the driving privileges of the defendant, Jonathon Nast.

"We submitted the paperwork this afternoon," Hudspeth said Monday.

Nast, 25, of Damiansville was released from the Clinton County Jail after $2,500 in cash was posted for his bond Friday afternoon by his girlfriend's family. His bail had been set at $25,000, meaning he needed 10 percent of that amount to be released.

Prosecutors on Friday charged Nast with failure to report a motor vehicle accident involving death, as well as obstruction of justice.

The charges filed by Hudspeth allege that Nast failed to notify police within 30 minutes of striking the pedestrian, 23-year-old Lana Albert of Edwardsville. The charges further allege that Nast took his truck to a scrap dealer in Murphysboro and sold it, prior to notifying police that it was involved in the accident.

Illinois law allows the secretary of state to suspend the driving privileges of a motorist who is charged with failing to report an accident involving injury or death. The secretary of state can choose to impose the suspension even before the case goes to trial, and even if the case does not involve allegations of impaired driving.

Henry Haupt, a spokesman for White, said: "The driver can receive the administrative suspension if the state's attorney submits documentation to the secretary of state, showing the charge and a cause-of-death certificate. Our office has the authority to implement an administrative revocation, even prior to a conviction."

Haupt said such a suspension would remain in effect while the case is pending.

Huspeth added a conviction on the charge would result in a mandatory revocation of driving privileges.

Failure to report a motor vehicle accident involving death is a class 1 felony. A class 1 felony carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

The obstruction charge is a Class 4 felony. A Class 4 felony carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison.

During Nast's initial court appearance on Friday, Circuit Judge Dennis Middendorff ordered that, if Nast were to make bail, he is prohibited from having contact with Albert's family.

It's unclear how Nast came to the attention of police. Nast was taken into custody on Thursday.

The owner of the scrap yard in Murphysboro has said Nast brought his truck there on Tuesday and wanted it crushed -- even asking if he could use the yard's trackhoe to smash the truck himself. The yard owner said he didn't suspect anything, because Nast told him the truck's engine was leaking oil, and its transmission was slipping.

The yard owner said police contacted him the next day --Wednesday -- and told him not to do anything with the vehicle. Police went to the business that day and picked up the truck.

Nast's family has declined comment. His attorney, Joseph B. Heiligenstein, also declined comment Monday.

Breese Police received a report at 2:13 a.m. June 7 of a woman walking in and out of traffic on old U.S. 50 on the west side of Breese. Albert's body was found shortly afterward along the highway.

Albert had been at a nearby bar. Nast also had been at the bar.

Nast has no prior criminal record in Clinton County. He was charged with a traffic offense, driving more than 40 mph above the speed limit, in 2005. He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving 21-25 mph above the speed limit and was fined $495.

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