Retired Joliet journalist charged with child pornography
BY KIM JANSSEN AND BRIAN STANLEY Staff Reporters September 12, 2013 12:04PM
Updated: September 12, 2013 7:18PM
A retired journalist from Joliet has been arrested by the FBI and charged with child pornography.
John Gabriel, 77 — a former Joliet Times Weekly reporter who later launched Joliet’s free Weekly Reporter — is accused of both manufacturing child pornography and obstructing justice by damaging a computer that contained evidence against him.
He made a brief appearance Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Geraldine Brown, who ordered him locked up until a bail hearing Monday.
Wearing a gray short-sleeve shirt, he complained to the judge that he had arthritic hands but declined to comment to a reporter as he was led from court in handcuffs.
It’s not the first time Gabriel has found himself linked to a sex scandal. Last year, the home he shares with his 32-year-old lover, Troy Township Democratic committeewoman Margarita Hernandez, was raided by the FBI.
Hernandez was charged at that time with having sex with a 15-year-old boy — an allegation that prompted Gabriel to make a series of wild counter-allegations against police.
In an interview with patch.com, he claimed Hernandez was being persecuted because of “crooked policemen and crooked politicians” who he’d written unflattering stories about.
At the time of Hernandez’s arrest, a computer was seized from the home Gabriel shared with her in the 6900 block of Monmouth Drive.
Steve Landis, who represents Hernandez in her Will County case, said he did not know how, if at all, Gabriel’s charges will affect Hernandez’s case.
“I have virtually no information,” Landis said, adding that he is trying to find out more about the case against Gabriel.
While Gabriel has consistently identified Hernandez as his girlfriend since her arrest, the two were sworn in as grandfather and granddaughter to testify before the Joliet Zoning Board of Appeals three years ago.
According to minutes from the May 20, 2010 meeting, Gabriel “asked the board to use their authority to deny the erection of (a neighbor’s proposed) fence in order to allow the neighbors better visibility of the park in order to deter unfavorable or criminal activities that will jeopardize the neighborhood.”
No one opened the door Thursday afternoon at the home Gabriel and Hernandez share, though a woman spoke to a reporter through the door.
“No one’s here right now,” the woman said.
A next-door neighbor said she did not know Hernandez or Gabriel, but had seen them in the past coming and going from the house.
Contributing: Janet Lundquist