On March 16, 2016, the morning of the primary election, Ronald Duebbert, the uncontested Republican candidate for circuit judge, called police and reported a break-in at his law office in Belleville.
Duebbert told police he suspected someone broke in to plant drugs or a bug to undermine his campaign against then-Chief Judge John Baricevic, a Democrat.
“It should be noted that (Duebbert) is running for circuit judge. (Duebbert) believes someone may have gained entry into the business to plant drugs in his office or place a ‘bug’ in his office,” according to a copy of the report obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
“(Duebbert) requested a K-9 dog to come to the office and sniff for narcotics.”
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Neither Duebbert nor his attorney, Dedra Brock-Moore, returned calls for comment or responded to written questions.
Duebbert, who was elected in November, also told police he had been receiving anonymous telephone calls at his law office on the second floor of the Bank of America Building on Public Square in Belleville. The caller said Duebbert should get out of the race, according to the report.
“(Duebbert) has also been noticing a black Chevy Impala with (Illinois) temporary tags has been following him when he leaves for work,” the report stated. “(Duebbert) stated that a heavy-set white male is driving the vehicle and sometimes there are two people in the car. The vehicle has followed him at six to seven times in the last month. The vehicle has followed him from work to places in Belleville, Fairview Heights and Lenzburg.”
Duebbert said he did not know the people in the car.
(Duebbert) has also been noticing a black Chevy Impala with (Illinois) temporary tags has been following him when he leaves for work,” the report stated. “(Duebbert) stated that a heavy-set white male is driving the vehicle and sometimes there are two people in the car. The vehicle has followed him at six to seven times in the last month. The vehicle has followed him from work to places in Belleville, Fairview Heights and Lenzburg.
Belleville police report
Duebbert told police he had just changed the locks on the office, according to the report. He left his office about 7:45 p.m. March 14, 2016, and the locks appeared fine, according to the report, but when he arrived at the office about 9:45 a.m. March 15, he found small pieces of metal on the ground next to the door.
He then came into the business and attempted to use the key to open the door inside the vestibule. He told police that his hand was scratched by the lock when he tried to unlock the door. Duebbert looked at the main doors to the business and discovered the same marks on the lock. He checked to see whether anything was missing, but “everything was fine,” he told police.
Officer Mark Kroenig, who responded to the call, told Duebbert that a K-9 was not available to sweep his office and a supervisor would have to decide whether to send in a dog to sniff his office for narcotics.
Clyde Kuehn and Jared Beasley, attorneys who leased space on the fourth floor of the Bank of America Building, said the outside door was locked at around 5:30 p.m. so the public could not have access. Neither Kuehn nor Beasley thought the space had surveillance cameras. Beasley said there were cleaning crews in the building after hours.
Darryl Williams, the building owner, did not return a call for comment.
Duebbert was sworn in Dec. 5, 2016 and began drawing his $194,000 judge’s salary. But three days before his swearing-in, Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson, who took over after Baricevic’s defeat in November, met with Duebbert regarding David E. Fields. Fields, 20, lived at Duebbert’s home on Powder Mill Road for a time. Fields registered as living at the address on the Illinois State Police Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Registry. After the meeting, Gleeson removed Duebbert from criminal cases.
Fields stayed at Duebbert’s home after he was released from the Illinois Department of Corrections on parole. Fields left prison Oct. 24, 2016 and went to his mother’s home in Shiloh, according to a petition to revoke Fields’ parole, but changed his host site to Duebbert’s home Nov. 4, 2016 — four days before Duebbert defeated Baricevic in the general election.
(Duebbert) requested a K-9 dog to come to the office and sniff for narcotics.
Belleville police report
Fields was 17 and facing aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated battery of a pregnant person. Fields was accused of beating and raping a 17-year-old girl at Belleville East High School. According to Duebbert, the two met in the parking lot of Duebbert’s law office and struck up a conversation about Duebbert’s car. Fields pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and was sentenced to six years in prison. He was released in October 2016, about a month before Duebbert won the election.
Duebbert was being Christian, he said, in allowing Fields to move into his home. Duebbert, who is gay, has denied a romantic relationship with Fields.
On Dec. 30, 2016 at about 5 a.m., Carl Silas, 28, was shot in the head twice as he lay between his baby and his child’s mother. Silas’ girlfriend, who is Fields’ cousin, identified Fields, whom she called “DayDay” as the shooter. Three other witnesses were in the apartment at 2913 West Boulevard near Belleville and also identified Fields as the shooter with a long gun.
Fields was later charged with murder. He is being held in the St. Clair County Jail in lieu of $2 million bail.
After the shooting, Gleeson removed Duebbert from handling all cases. He continues to hold a judgeship and collect his salary. Gleeson has said Duebbert can only be removed from his seat on the bench by the Judicial Inquiry Board, which is investigating.
A special prosecutor has been appointed to handle the murder case against Fields and determine whether Duebbert obstructed justice in the Major Case Squad investigation.