Ex-Waukegan hoops star Jereme Richmond gets 3 years in prison
BY JIM NEWTON Sun-Times Media November 26, 2013 1:37AM
Updated: November 26, 2013 1:38AM
Jereme Richmond’s struggles with Lake County’s probation program ended Monday when Lake County Circuit Court Judge Christopher Stride sentenced the former Waukegan High School basketball star to three years in prison.
Richmond was convicted on charges of harassment of a witness for making threatening comments and gestures to a probation officer earlier this year. The harassment charge is a Class 2 felony that carries a potential sentence of three to seven years in prison.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jim Newman had sought a sentence of four and a half to five years in prison, while defense attorney Lawrence Wade had asked for a sentence of periodic imprisonment in Lake County Jail.
Stride said that Richmond’s numerous violations while on felony probation for a previous case, including missing drug tests, probation visits, testing positive for cannabis and failure to attend treatment programs called for a prison sentence.
Stride also said that the harassment incident Richmond was convicted in was the worst he has witnessed throughout his legal career.
“I have never seen anyone do this to a parole officer, anyone,” Stride said. “I have not seen this level of aggression.”
Richmond made a short statement before he was sentenced. He took responsibility for his actions but didn’t admit guilt, and he said that “God knew what took place that day.’
The case stemmed from incidents on April 25, a day before the probation officer was scheduled to testify in a hearing to revoke Richmond’s probation for missing a drug test while on probation for previous charges of unlawful use of a weapon.
Just before the probation office closed on that day, Richmond came in and wanted to submit a urine test in lieu of the previously missed tests. The probation officer refused him, saying the office was closing for the day and she would see him in court the next morning.
Officials said Richmond, who was upset, told the officer to “Be safe, be real safe,” as he was leaving the building. He then waited across the street in his parked car for several minutes before backing out of the spot and making what two secretaries and an IT employee, who were watching out of a window, described as shooting gestures with his hand before circling the office in the car and being pulled over by sheriff’s deputies.
He was arrested and has remained in Lake County Jail in lieu of $250,000 bond since then.
Stride said Richmond’s time in Lake County Jail will count toward the three-year sentence, and that if he follows Department of Corrections rules while in prison, he will be eligible to serve 50 percent of the term under good conduct guidelines.
Stride also urged Richmond to take advantage of the mentors he has in his life and to make good on claims that his time in jail to date has changed him for the better.
“I hope you realize you’re not fighting for your basketball life anymore,” he said.
Newman said after the hearing that Richmond is likely to spend five to 11 months in prison.
One of the state witnesses testifying during the sentencing hearing was a Lake County corrections officer who said Richmond yelled that she was a “bald-headed bitch” after she sent him to his cell for walking up a set of stairs with his pants below his “butt,” revealing his underwear.
Among those testifying for the defense was Al Rogers, a former Waukegan High School coach and administrator, who said he has been a mentor to Richmond since junior high.
He said Richmond always responded to his advice and did as he asked. He said that by the time he was a high school student, Richmond’s status as a “mega-star” basketball player presented challenges most students didn’t have to face, and that he was surrounded by “vultures” who believed he would provide financial benefits to them.
“The Jereme Richmond I know is not the one I read about in the newspapers,” Rogers said, adding that he will continue trying to be a positive influence on Richmond’s life.
At the beginning of the sentencing hearing, Stride denied a defense motion for a new trial.