Fingers are being pointed all over the place (with most of them being pointed at Cook County) now that an international fugitive is back in his home country of Poland to face charges of vehicular homicide after a ten-year odyssey in which he repeatedly slipped through the cracks of international criminal and immigration systems. Bartosz Sikorski, 32, is back in Poland facing charges stemming from an incident that occurred June 8, 2002. In that incident, Sikorski was driving recklessly and speeding in Warsaw when he hit a pedestrian who died short thereafter.
Despite being suspected of this fatality, Sikorski was approved for a visitor’s visa to the USA in August 2002. Sikorski was then only 22 years old with no apparent ties to the USA. Yet, he was approved for a visitor’s visa in short order. The US State Department is responsible for approval of visas, but a call from Front Page Magazine was left unreturned.
The Bialystok Criminal Court in Poland issued an arrest warrant for Sikorski Oct. 9, 2002 on charges of reckless homicide, but it was too late. Sikorski was already long in America.
Sikorski settled in the community of Harwood Heights, Illinois. Harwood Heights is located Northwest of Chicago, about twenty minutes by the main highway. It’s a town of about 8,300 people with an unusually large percentage of Polish Americans. In the 2010 census, Polish Americans made up 18.8% of the residents of Harwood Heights.
In June 2003, his visitor’s visa expired, but Sikorski remained here illegally anyway. Nothing was done to apprehend him for this violation for an indefinite period of time after his initial violation. A State Department spokesperson pointed Front Page Magazine to ICE when asked why Sikorski was never investigated after he overstayed his visa. ICE didn’t return a phone call for comment.
In March 2007, he was convicted in Cook County Court of criminal theft by deception. While serving that sentence, he was encountered by ICE officers in November 2009 and they put him in immigration proceedings.
In a statement to Front Page Magazine, ICE described a series of actions in which Cook County repeatedly made bureaucratic decision that led to Sikorski being released by Cook County officials rather than turned over to ICE.
In March 2010, an immigration judge in Chicago allowed Sikorski to deport himself voluntarily and gave him until April 22, 2010 to comply.
He was transferred to Cook County Jail and released April 20, 2010 without ICE being informed of his release per the immigration detainer. Sikorski became an immigration fugitive when he failed to depart the United States before April 22, 2010, as ordered by the immigration judge.
In September 2011, the Cook County Board passed an ordinance in which the Cook County Jail no longer cooperated with ICE on ICE detainers. ICE detainers are holds that ICE puts on municipal prisoners it wants held on suspicion of violating immigration laws. Cook County claimed that ICE should get a criminal warrant before receiving access to inmates in Cook County Jail, in a very complicated legal argument.
ICE’s Fugitive Operations Team officers arrested Sikorski April 26, 2012 and took him into custody pending removal to Poland. While in ICE custody, he was turned over to Harwood Heights’ police department when an old warrant there was flagged.
He was convicted on May 24 of illegally using an account number and was released after serving a short sentence on June 5, 2012. An ICE detainer was subsequently ignored and Sikorski was allowed to walk out of prison a free individual.
In August, ICE received information from the FBI that Sikorski was wanted on an active arrest warrant in Poland. On Oct. 4, ICE officers and FBI agents took Sikorski into custody outside the Cook County Jail where he had been detained on local charges and released.
Here too, Cook County nearly allowed Sikorski to get away. In August 2012, ICE received information from the FBI that Sikorski was wanted on an active arrest warrant in Poland. On Sept. 22, Sikorski was arrested on local charges and detained at the Cook County Jail. On Oct. 4, Cook County again failed to honor the ICE detainer and released Sikorski from custody without informing ICE officers. However, ICE officers and FBI agents were waiting at the jail and took him into custody moments immediately after he was released.
With Cook County receiving the brunt of the criticism, the office of Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle issued this statement in response to some of the criticism.
“The Cook County ordinance permits ICE agents access to detention facilities when ICE agents have a criminal warrant or other legitimate law enforcement purposes not related to immigration laws,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “Immigration enforcement is not a function of the County. To suggest the County’s policy endangers innocent people is unfounded. It would have been the responsibility of ICE to pick Sikorski up before he was released on June 5.”
“Detaining an individual in the County correctional facility past the point when he or she is free to go subjects the County to liability for unlawful detention,” Preckwinkle said.
This is not the first time this ordinance has come under fire. In December 2011, an individual suspected of killing a pedestrian when he was driving with a blood alcohol level of nearly three times the legal limit was released rather than handed over to ICE by Cook County officials.
That individual, Saul Chavez, is now considered at large and presumed to be in Mexico. At the time, Preckwinkle blamed the bond court, arguing that Chavez shouldn’t have been given a bond (he was given a $200,000 bond, meaning he had to come up with one tenth, $20,000, to be released) so low.
Hours after the law took effect, an individual accused of punching a cop during the course of a traffic arrest was also released because of this ordinance.
Eduardo Sanchez became one of the first people to be released under this ordinance. After allegedly speeding through a red light, Sanchez got into an altercation with police. Sanchez, a suspected illegal immigrant, walked out of court on September 8, 2011. That was the day the ordinance passed and it was also the day he posted $2,500, ten percent of his $25,000 bond.
Yet another individual released as a result of this ordinance is Ignacio Valadivinos. Valadivinos had been released after he posted a $25,000 bond and is now free awaiting a trial for attempted murder. He is accused of discharging his firearm at two unidentified individuals on February 28th, 2010. According to a police report for this alleged crime, Valadivinos freely admitted to police that he was a member of the violent Chicago street gang Satan’s Disciples. According to the National Gang Research Center:
The “Satan’s Disciples” (SD’s) have a 25-year history as a predominantly Hispanic gang originating from Chicago. The gang is a “Folks” gang, and uses therefore the six-pointed star in some of its graffiti, but almost always accentuated with its unique trademark of “Devil” images. It typifies many of the older traditional Chicago-based gangs in respect to being basically an adult-run criminal enterprise that makes extensive use of juveniles in its drug distribution operations.
Unlike the majority of those gangs, it has now spread to over 40 Chicago suburbs as well as to 22 other states. It is, therefore, a big player in the American gang crime scene.
According to that same police report, Valadivinos was initially seen running from the crime scene and resisted arrest when police finally caught up to him. In resisting arrest, the police report said, Valadivinos head butted one of the arresting officers. That arresting officer had swelling and redness on the left side of his face as a result of Valadinvinos’ hits.
At the local police station later that same evening, the two alleged victims positively identified Valadivinos as their shooter.
Finally, Rafael Clara-Cornelia is yet another individual that has been released under this ordinance. On November 10, 2011, Clara-Cornelia paid a $10,000 I Bond and was released. He’s free pending trial for his latest driving under the influence offense. This is the third time that Clara-Cornelia has been charged with a DUI. The previous two arrests resulted in convictions.
According to Clara-Cornelia’s arrest report from his most recent arrest, “Arrestee swayed from side to side and front to back (and) had to be told several times not to turn his head while following stimulus…could not keep balance during instructions, began walking before instructed…stopped walking at every step.”
This Cook County ordinance is the latest in a series of radical immigration actions taken by state and local governments that should also be tracked along with actions on the national level. Already, the states of New Mexico and Washington allow illegal aliens to get driver’s licenses. The State of Illinois is near approving just a matter. In Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln Chafee is considering granting illegal aliens driver’s licenses by executive order and in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick has introduced in-state tuition for illegal immigrants. With no solutions on the national level, states and localities are feeling more and more emboldened to take their own action. In radical areas like Cook County, that means radical leftist immigration policies that have led to numerous violent criminals being released back on the streets
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