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Targets of Aurora suit against Latin Kings seek dismissal

Updated: June 11, 2013 6:29AM

GENEVA — Generally citing constitutional violations, almost three dozen suspected members of the Latin Kings street gang want a lawsuit against them dismissed, according to attorneys and court records.

On Thursday, Kane County Judge Joseph Grady scheduled a June hearing on the dismissal requests already, or soon to be, filed by five defense attorneys representing the men named in the 2012 lawsuit brought by the city of Aurora. The lawsuit seeks injunctions to prohibit a wide-range of conduct by a total of 35 men identified as gang members by police, according to the suit.

Defense attorneys previously asked a judge to require the city, represented by Special State’s Attorney Ross Bartollotta, to spell out in greater detail how the men were tied to the gang and what types of criminal activity they were involved in over the years. In an amended complaint filed last month, Bartollotta includes 35 pages of police affidavits explaining how the men either acknowledged gang affiliation or were linked to the gang through police investigations. Bartollotta also offers 89 crimes — ranging from murders to drugs to burglaries — committed between 1987 and 2011 by the named defendants, documents show.

The city’s lawsuit is based on the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevent Act, which allows for civil restrictions and penalties against gang members. The suit seeks financial restitution for damages, while also requesting an injunction to bar the men from gang-related activities, such as gathering with other gang members, displaying gang signs or violating curfew. The most specific restriction would prohibit the men from being present within an area bounded by Rural, New York, Ohio and Lincoln streets if they don’t live, work or have family residing there, court records state.

With an active injunction, the named defendants could be charged criminally if simply seen with another defendant or engaging in any other barred activity.

Attorney Liam Dixon, who represents several of the men, claims in his dismissal motion that the injunction violates several constitutional rights.

“The (city) is seeking to punish these defendants on the basis of their status as gang members ... it is not the conduct,” Dixon stated.

Bartollota told Grady that “a lot of the (dismissal) issues raise constitutionality (questions).”

Of the 35 defendants, five, according to court records, have not responded to the suit personally or through an attorney, leading to default judgements against them. Bartollota said he will return to court next week to formalize the parameters of the injunctions against those men.

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