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Crime & Courts

Putnam County public defender enters plea in prostitution case

Putnam County public defender Roger Bolin walks behind his lawyer, Ottawa defense attorney Darrell Seigler, as they leave the courtroom Wednesday morning.
Putnam County public defender Roger Bolin walks behind his lawyer, Ottawa defense attorney Darrell Seigler, as they leave the courtroom Wednesday morning.

Putnam County’s public defender pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor charge filed in connection with a prostitution sting completed earlier this spring.

Roger Bolin, 65, pleaded guilty to one count of battery, a Class A misdemeanor, carrying up to a year in county jail. However, under the plea presented to Chief Judge H. Chris Ryan Jr., Bolin was sentenced to a year of court supervision, a non-reporting form of probation that would result in dismissal of the charge if and when it is successfully completed. Bolin’s record could remain clean a year from now.

Bolin also was ordered to pay a $750 fine.

When Ryan asked for a factual basis for the plea, assistant La Salle County State’s Attorney Jason Goode said the facts would show Bolin touched a woman, identified only as Nicky, on the shoulder. All other charges were dismissed as part of the plea.

Bolin declined an opportunity to address Ryan. Outside the courtroom, Bolin and Ottawa defense Attorney Darrell Seigler both declined comment.

La Salle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly, who was not in the courtroom, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Bolin’s plea comes on the heels of a ruling that may have spurred this morning’s plea. Last week, Ryan ruled investigators who organized the prostitution sting got the OK to make an “overhear” recording while nine men, including Bolin, allegedly tried to solicit prostitutes. But that recording may not be played for a jury.

James G. Schaefer of Peru, one of the nine suspected “johns,” hoped Ryan would throw out his case by barring the recording and everything in it, alleging the recording was illegal. La Salle County prosecutors urged Ryan to uphold the recording. He did neither.

In a mixed ruling, Ryan refused to suppress the recording and to kick the legs out from under Schaefer’s case.

The judge ruled that prosecutors cannot use the recording in making their case. The only way jurors will learn what was caught on tape is if prosecutors think a key witness is lying, in which case they can trot out the recording and let jurors decide whether to believe the witness or the tape.

With the inconclusive ruling in hand, the stage was set for both the prosecution and the defense to cut their losses and reach a plea for Bolin, and possibly for the remaining suspects.

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