Feds to seize parents’ property after son flees court
BY JON SEIDEL Staff Reporter February 18, 2014 11:42AM
Mugshot of Ignacio Torres Jr.
Updated: March 20, 2014 6:21AM
A convicted drug dealer’s lucky getaway moments before being taken into federal custody last fall will cost his parents one of several properties they own in Chicago, a judge ruled Tuesday.
U.S. Judge Harry Leinenweber agreed Tuesday morning to forfeit the bond of Ignacio Torres Jr., which was secured by a home his parents own on Elston.
Torres slipped out of Leinenweber’s courtroom last November moments after the judge ordered him taken into custody. He’s been on the run ever since, and his attorney, Beau Brindley, said no one has heard from him.
“Is Mr. Torres here?” Leinenweber asked as Tuesday’s hearing got underway.
“I wish he was, judge,” Brindley said. “He is not.”
Ignacio Torres Sr. and Noemi Lorenzana, Torres’ parents, have already signed a quit-claim deed over to the federal government, Brindley said. The judge’s order lets prosecutors enforce it.
The feds say the couple does not live in the home. In fact, they said in court filings it is one of seven properties Torres’ parents own around Chicago purchased at a combined price of about $1.5 million.
Prosecutors also noted the couple claims a homeowner’s exemption — which applies only to owner-occupied homes — on four of those properties.
Brindley argued, though, that because the judge revoked Torres’ bond moments before the escape, the couple was not responsible for what happened next.
To which Leinenweber said, “Nice try.”
Brindley said he’ll file an appeal, a move that could put the judge’s order on hold.
“I don’t think there’s any authority to take their house away,” Brindley said after court.
Torres was free on bond at the time of his escape, awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty last June to a cocaine dealing charge.
But then he allegedly threw rocks at, and threatened to kill, a “snitch” who helped the DEA catch him.
Leinenweber revoked Torres’ bond at the urging of prosecutors and ordered Torres locked up. But witnesses said there were no security officers in the courtroom at the time.
After the judge and prosecutors left the courtroom, Torres apparently slipped out and fled before U.S. Marshals Service deputies arrived.
A courtroom witness said Brindley also was unaware Torres had escaped until it was too late. He’d been working with a court official to try to arrange for Torres’ surrender.
The disappearing act apparently earned Torres “quite a bit of notoriety,” as noted Tuesday by Leinenweber. And perhaps, a bit of embarrassment.
“The press took great note of this,” Leinenweber told Brindley. “Including the judge.”
Contributing: Kim Janssen