Brad VanHoose, a longtime critic of Caseyville village government, has been indicted by a St. Clair County grand jury and charged with threatening the life of Mayor Leonard Black, according to court documents.
The 49-year-old VanHoose is free after posting $5,000 bail on Friday to satisfy bond set at $50,000. He was held briefly at Caseyville police headquarters.
VanHoose said today that he never knew that a grand jury was considering a felony charge against him until he got a call Friday from a Caseyville police officer at 4:43 p.m. telling him that a Freedom of Information request he sought from the village was ready to be picked up. VanHoose said it could wait, and, within about 20 minutes, the village officer accompanied by Belleville police officers showed up at his Belleville home and arrested him.
According to a copy of the indictment, on April 15, VanHoose, “...conveyed directly to Leonard Black, a public official, a communication containing a threat that placed Leonard Black in reasonable apprehension of immediate or future bodily harm in the defendant stated he would kill Leonard Black and the threat was conveyed because of defendant’s hostility toward the status or position of Leonard Black as Mayor of Caseyville.”
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VanHoose said the incident occurred in the parking lot of the South Main Diner and escalated when Black mentioned VanHoose’s father in a deprecating manner. He said he made no threats, has never been asked by police for a statement and was casually told by one village officer months ago that nothing criminal had occurred.
Black said, “Yes, absolutely,” that he felt “threatened and intimidated.” He declined to answer further questions and provided this statement he had earlier prepared, “I’ll let the indictment speak for itself. I’ll let the legal system take its course.”
In an online posting under the heading, “Falsely accused, falsely charged!” VanHoose asked why he was not given an opportunity to appear before the grand jury and asked why Bob Romanik, a controversial radio show host and Black supporter, was mentioned on his bond release order. This document states that VanHoose is prohibited from coming within 500 feet or the residence of Black or Romanik or within 500 feet of their places of employment.
Romanik said he was surprised to find his name on the release document and said he had nothing to do with it.
“He’s (VanHoose) insignificant to me. I don’t know why my name is on that order but if he comes close to me and tries to hurt me he’ll wish he hadn’t,” Romanik said.
VanHoose has appeared at village board meetings where he has spoken out against what he considers improper practices by Black. He has written a number of Letters to the Editor that were printed on the News-Democrat’s opinion page that focused on Black and sometimes on Romanik, a political figure in St. Clair County and a Republican candidate for state representative from the 114th District. Romanik hosts a one hour daily commentary show on weekdays where he appears as the “Grim Reaper of Radio” and sharply criticizes local and county officeholders.