Ashford House 5 Plead Guilty, Sentenced to Prison

Five Indiana men charged with assault in the Ashford House brawl pleaded guilty to three felony counts of armed violence against the advice of their attorneys Friday, Jan. 4 and were sentenced to various stints in prison.

Against the advice of their attorneys who believed they could win at trial, five Indiana men charged in the Ashford House attack pleaded guilty to three counts of armed violence Friday in a Bridgeview courtroom.

Judge Carmen K. Aguilar handed down the sentences in the attack, where the men stormed the Tinley Park restaurant wearing masks, hoods and gloves with axes and metal batons to confront a neo-Nazi group meeting on May 19 of last year. Charges of mob action, aggravated battery and criminal damage to property were dropped as part of the agreement. The five received: 

  • Cody Sutherlin, 23 - five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
  • Dylan Sutherlin, 20 - five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
  • Jason Sutherlin, 33 - six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections
  • John Tucker, 26 - 42 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections
  • Alex Stuck, 22 - 42 months in the Illinois Department of Corrections

All five men have been in custody since the May 19 incident and will receive credit for 233 days time served and will have to pay $587 in court costs, and will be on parole for two years upon release from prison. With good behavior, they are eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of their time.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant State's Attorneys Karin Swanson and Cheryl Galvin.

Defense for the five had been prepared to argue a motion Friday to get the men's arrest thrown out and evidence suppressed, said Brian Barrido, attorney for Dylan Sutherlin.

But in the end, the math just didn't add up for the defendants, Barrido said.

"They would rather just get it over with today," Barrido said, noting that the men were aware that it could take another year just to get to trial. And because of the logistics of trying five defendants, matching DNA and evidence etc., there was no way to tell how long the men could wait in jail.

Also, they apparently weren't willing to take a chance on being found guilty, where they would have been sentenced to the maximum of seven years -- the offer initially on the table with prosecutors. The five were also initially disappointed with Aguilar's offer

But the men all decided not to move forward with trial.

Five will 'support the continued struggle to fight racism'

Attorney Sara Garber, who represented Alex Stuck, said she was disappointed with the men's decision and shocked at the judge's sentence.

"All the Nazis at the restaurant have records, with violent felony backgrounds," Garber said. "They had weapons, guns in their cars."

By comparison the five men, who had staunch support from people who came to Friday's hearing from Bloomington and Gary, Ind., didn't have violent backgrounds and are community activists in Indiana. The five are members of . They also support local efforts such as community gardens and feed the homeless, Garber added.

Still, "we will support the continued struggle to fight racism," Garber said.

Her sentiments were echoed by James Fennerty, attorney for Cody Sutherlin. Fennerty called the sentences for the men "severe."

Family of the Sutherlin brothers weren't in court Friday, Fennerty said. The three men have a disabled father who lives in Bloomington, Ind. and hope they can serve their sentence in a prison where he will be able to visit, the attorney said.

"They are all still going to be anti-racist," Fennerty said, "against any form of racism and anyone who doesn't respect [people] because of their color."

Attorneys allege prosecutors had political agenda

The defense attorneys have long questioned the motives of the state's attorney's office intent on prosecuting just the five, when as many as 18 people entered the Ashford House Restaurant the day of the brawl.

"If they are so concerned with justice, why aren't they going after the other 13 people?" Barrido asked.

And both Garber and Barrido agreed that if a non-neo Nazi hadn't been injured in the attack, a plea agreement could have gone differently.

"That was the one and only sympathetic part to this story," Garber said. "That had to be a scary experience for people who were just trying to enjoy their lunch."

Stuart Smith, attorney for John Tucker, said in previous interviews that orders to prosecute the five so harshly were "coming from higher up." Smith didn't elaborate further, but one of the victims injured in the attack who wasn't part of the neo Nazi group is reportedly the brother of a longstanding Cook County official.

At the hearing Friday, Smith told Aguilar that he wanted it on record that Tucker was going against his advice.

"I was honored to represent this man," Smith said. "He is a hero."

The five will be moved to Stateville Correctional Center in Crest Hill on Monday and it is expected to take two weeks for processing, Barrido said. Barrido said the three Sutherlin brothers are hoping to be able to serve their sentences in the same facility.

The case is over but it appears the disappointment surrounding its conclusion will remain.

"Do I feel like justice was served here today?" Barrido asked. "Absolutely not."

Want more breaking and courts news, delivered fresh to your inbox? Sign up for our breaking news alerts.

DaleVM January 18, 2013 at 04:58 AM
So, you like to pre-judge people you don't even know? Isn't that prejudice on your part?
DaleVM January 18, 2013 at 05:05 AM
These hooligans, thugs and criminals belong behind bars. They hardly contribute anything to society.
Jeremiah Tatom April 02, 2013 at 12:52 PM
FTP your a retard whites were I slaved for over a thousand years by the Romans and then the Vikings and later by the catholic church in fact the word slave Comes from the word slav I /e Yugoslavia. Tthats were the. Vikings got their best prisoners from so enough with the slavery crap. Go back to school and try a history major this time. Now to the real point this is the uninteresting states of America. "We hold these truthes to be self evident that All men are created equal and arew bestowed upon by their creator curtain inalianable rights and among those rights are life liberty and the persuit of happiness". If you don't k ow what that is read the declaration of independence. Every body is intitled to their beliefs and nobody deserves to get beat for their thoughts or what they think. April if you are who I think you are I give you big props there aren't enough women like you any more. So In reality these guy are just some punk extremists like alqida. We will see bow anti racist they are in 5 years lmao
Rosenkr4nz February 05, 2014 at 05:41 PM
Who determines what is "racist" and what words we are allowed to talk? These clowns? Dissenting views and opinions are the hallmark of Democracy. These 4 left wing Marxists think we are in Communist Russia.
pompeybisc8@aol.com February 14, 2014 at 07:59 PM
God knows a well-meaning heart and rewards it accordingly. If they truly believed they were eradicating evil then they were justified, how many sat on their hands and allowed the Nazi's to regenerate until there were thousands, because they at one time only hated Jews, people felt they were exempt, then they went after the disabled, then the Catholics, then everyone that did not have German ancestry was considered "Unfit". WHEN DO YOU STAND UP ? AT WHAT STAGE DO YOU SAY NONE AMOUNG US SHOULD BE MADE TO FEEL VULNERABLE. RIGHT NOW IN POLAND AND EAST GERMANY ASIANS AND MUSLIMS ARE ATTACKED IN BROAD DAYLIGHT BY NEW ORDER NAZI'S. GO LOOK IT UP. I SAY GOD BLESS THESE YOUNG MEN. YOUR BELIEFS SHOULD NOT LEAD YOU TO KICK-IN MY FRONT DOOR.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »