Saturday, June 20, 2009

Facebook Can Come Back and Get You!

Judge orders ankle bracelet after viewing Facebook photos
By KATE THAYER – kthayer@kcchronicle.com

ST. CHARLES – A 20-year-old Campton Hills woman must wear an alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet after appearing in photos posted on the Internet showing her drinking with friends while out of jail on bond.

Erika Scoliere has pleaded not guilty to aggravated drunken driving and reckless homicide charges in the July 2007 crash that killed motorcyclist Frank Ferraro, 40.

Circuit Judge Thomas Mueller ordered Wednesday that Scoliere now must wear the SCRAM bracelet after violating conditions of her bond. The SCRAM – which stands for Secure Continuous Alcohol Monitor – bracelet notifies authorities if it depicts alcohol consumption through perspiration. The bracelet takes a reading every hour.

After Scoliere was charged, Associate Judge Allen Anderson – who once presided over the case – allowed her to remain out of jail and attend college in Ohio at the University of Dayton while awaiting trial. As a condition of that, Anderson ordered that Scoliere must not drink or be in the presence of alcohol.

Assistant State’s Attorney Steve Sims asked for the bracelet after police found photographs on the popular social networking Web site, Facebook.com. In court Wednesday, Mueller said the photos showed tequila and Scoliere “having a grand old time with her friends.”

One photo’s caption read, “Ten minutes later, Erika passed out in my bed. Ha. Ha. Ha.,” Mueller said.

Scoliere was found in violation of her bond last year when she failed to contact court officials during her entire freshman year. As a result, Anderson ordered more frequent contact with court officials and more frequent alcohol screenings.

Scoliere admitted to the most recent violation Wednesday and left the courtroom in tears after hearing her punishment. Her attorney, Stephen Komie, argued against the SCRAM bracelet, saying it would serve as a “scarlet letter” for someone who is merely accused of a crime.

“I’m not going to jail her,” Mueller said as he issued his decision. “I don’t think that serves any purpose. She has now earned the privilege of wearing the SCRAM bracelet.”

Mueller noted that increasing Scoliere’s $10,000 posted bond amount wouldn’t do anything, noting the fact that Scoliere has taken several trips with her family since she was arrested.

Ferraro’s supporters shook their heads and appeared angry when the judge noted Scoliere is allowed to live out of state, attend college and take trips while out on bond.

Also Wednesday, a hearing regarding blood samples in the case began. Scoliere’s attorneys want blood evidence thrown out of the case after it went missing.

South Elgin police officers testified that the blood evidence was mistakenly destroyed after it was tested at an Illinois State Police crime lab. The hearing continues June 25.

Police say that at 11:30 p.m. July 13, Scoliere was driving an SUV south on Randall Road when she turned east onto Silver Glen Road during a yellow light. Ferraro was riding a motorcycle north on Randall Road and the two vehicles collided, according to police.

Scoliere’s attorneys say Ferraro sped up just before the collision. Scoliere wasn’t charged immediately after the crash, but later when toxicology results revealed she had been drinking, according to police. Scoliere did not appear intoxicated to witnesses, Komie said.