February 25, 2024
Crime & Courts | Northwest Herald

Crime & Courts

Crystal Lake firefighters take plea deals in connection with 2017 bar disturbance

Two Crystal Lake firefighters are serving misdemeanor sentences outside of jail in connection with a
March 2017 disturbance at a local bar.

Timothy R. Kerley and Adam J. Fowles were two of nine off-duty Crystal Lake firefighters subject to disciplinary action after a March 27, 2017, baby shower at Finn McCool's in Crystal Lake.

Witnesses told an investigator hired by the city that firefighters groped customers and bar employees, continued drinking after they were cut off and eventually were kicked out, according to a report prepared by an Oak Brook law firm.

Two of the firefighters – Fowles, 43, and Kerley, 40 – allegedly were so drunk that other patrons complained about the pair and employees refused to continue to serve them.

Fowles, of the 5900 block of Beachway Street, Cary, also was accused of grabbing a woman by her hips and thrusting his pelvis against her, court records show.

Prosecutors originally charged Fowles with a felony count of aggravated battery. On Thursday, however, he accepted an offer from the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office and entered an Alford plea to a misdemeanor battery charge, said his attorney, Konstantinos Markakos.

Alford pleas allow a defendant to maintain their innocence while accepting the penalties of a conviction.

McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt sentenced Fowles to one year of conditional discharge. He also must undergo drug and alcohol treatment and write an apology letter to the woman, court documents show.

Kerley, of the 4000 block of Woods End Road, Crystal Lake, entered the same kind of plea Thursday to a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, Markakos said. Kerley was accused of becoming "aggressive and verbally abusive," breaking a glass and threatening a bar employee before colleagues restrained him, according to an
Aug. 31, 2017, court filing.

McHenry County Judge Mark Gerhardt sentenced Kerley to six months of court supervision and 30 hours of community service.

If Kerley completes the six-month term without committing additional crimes, the sentence will not appear as a conviction on his record, and he could petition to have the case expunged.

Neither Kerley nor Fowles could be reached for comment Monday. Kerley received $104,972 in base and overtime wages from the fire department last year, city records show. Fowles received $105,145.

Crystal Lake Fire Chief Paul
DeRaedt confirmed that both men still are active employees of the department.

Fowles and Kerley were arrested May 11 after a police investigation. Each was placed on administrative leave without pay for 10 workdays as the result of an employment investigation into the incident.

Other firefighters reportedly threatened and insulted customers and employees.

The confrontation intensified when bar employees kicked out the group and threatened to call police, records show. On their way out, firefighters smashed bottles on the floor, according to the report.

The situation resulted in the suspension of 13 percent of fire department employees who witnessed the incident and failed to report it.

On July 11, 2017, the Northwest Herald requested all video footage pertaining to the investigation or disciplinary matters connected with Fowles and Kerley.

The request was denied in its entirety July 18, 2017, because officials feared the information would interfere with police action, according to the response letter.

The Northwest Herald challenged this exemption July 19, 2017, and in February, the Illinois Attorney General's Office requested that the city provide the newspaper with a copy of the video. The footage eventually was released.

Katie Smith

Katie Smith

Katie reported on the crime and courts beat for the Northwest Herald from 2017 through 2021. She began her career with Shaw Media in 2015 at the Daily Chronicle in DeKalb, where she reported on the courts, city council, the local school board, and business.