OTTAWA — A Peru man was sentenced Friday to 2 years in prison for lying at his drunk-driving trial and for coaxing a witness into doing the same.
Randall L. Patterson, 45, of 1126 Peru St. (also listed in Cedar Point) had entered blind pleas Aug. 9 to perjury, subornation of perjury and driving under the influence.
Hoping to avoid up to 5 years in prison at his sentencing hearing Friday, Patterson asked for probation and acknowledged he’d made a bad decision at his 2012 trial.
“I take full responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake,” Patterson said when offered a chance to address Judge Cynthia M. Raccuglia, adding later, “I just want a chance to make it up and prove that I’m a good person.”
But the judge ruled out probation, indicating she might have considered probation for perjury or DUI, but not the subornation charge Patterson incurred by getting friend Beth Craig of Toluca to lie for him. Craig pleaded guilty to perjury (she got 2½ years’ probation) and had never, the judge noted, been in any trouble before.
“Where I have deep disgust is with you,” Raccuglia said. “You are the ultimate culprit of the lie.”
Raccuglia then sentenced Patterson to 2 years in prison. He could be released in mid-2014.
Patterson was charged with DUI after Oglesby police responded on March 27, 2011, to a report of a vehicle emitting smoke in the parking lot at Garzanelli’s Restaurant.
Patterson was found slumped over the wheel, foot on the gas pedal, with smoke emerging from a fire somewhere in the chassis. He was roused, removed safely from the vehicle and then taken to Oglesby Police Department, where he failed field sobriety tests but refused a breathalyzer test.
The real trouble began a year later when Patterson stood for a jury trial before Judge Daniel J. Bute, who declared a mistrial when jurors couldn’t return a unanimous verdict.
The apparent stumbling block was testimony from Patterson and Craig, whom the defense presented as a corroborating witness. Investigators dug into their testimony and found that Patterson had coaxed Craig into lying and then perjured himself on the stand, too.
At sentencing Friday, defense attorney Mark Johnson asked Raccuglia to consider only probation and jail time, citing Patterson’s several dependents and a rather distant criminal history that had, until the DUI case, ended with a pot conviction 20 years ago. He further noted Patterson had successfully completed probation.
“So he’s got a track record of complying with any and all conditions the court places upon him,” Johnson said.
But assistant La Salle County state’s attorney Jeremiah Adams asked for 3 years in prison, saying perjury — frequently alleged, seldom proved — is a dogged problem in the criminal justice system and demands a deterrent sentence.
“I fear we’re opening up the door to something we all realize is a problem in our courts,” Adams said.
Raccuglia declined to hand down the full 3 years, acknowledging several mitigating factors, but agreed that co-opting another to commit perjury was something she couldn’t swallow.
“You put at risk, by lying in this court system, everything that is at the core of what I do,” Raccuglia said.
Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.