McHenry man accused of robbing bank with 9-month-old baby left home alone taken into federal custody

Peter Sova allegedly wrote a note, pretended to have a firearm; when identified by police, he asked, ‘Have you caught the bank robber yet?”

Peter Sova

A McHenry man accused of robbing a bank of about $5,000 while leaving his 9-month-old baby home alone was released from the McHenry County jail pretrial Tuesday. However, he was taken into federal custody “prior to leaving the jail,” McHenry police Chief John Birk said.

Peter Sova, 36, of the 800 block of Ross Lane, is charged with aggravated robbery while indicating that he had a firearm, a Class 1 felony. He’s also accused of theft or unauthorized control of $500 to $10,000 and child abandonment, according to a criminal complaint filed in McHenry County court.

At 10:45 a.m. Monday, police responded to the Huntington Bank on Bull Valley Road in McHenry for a report of an armed robbery, according to a news release from the McHenry Police Department.

During a detention hearing Tuesday at which prosecutors sought to detain him pretrial, Assistant State’s Attorney Julio Cantre said Sova dressed in a hooded sweatshirt gave the bank teller a note that said, “This is a robbery; please give me all your money.”

The prosecution alleged that, in asking for the money, Sova held up a black bag that appeared to have a firearm concealed inside. Later, it was learned that he did not have a firearm but a butane lighter, authorities said.

The bank teller handed over $4,890. The robber fled on foot and soon was caught by police and arrested, authorities said. When he saw police, Sova asked, “ ‘Have you caught the bank robber yet?’ ” Cantre said.

Police found additional sweatshirts, sunglasses and four notes demanding money near where they captured Sova, Cantre said.

Police went to Sova’s home and took into protective custody the baby, whom authorities said Sova left alone during the alleged robbery. The Department of Children and Family Services released the child to his mother, Cantre and police said.

In asking that Sova be detained pretrial, Cantre told Chief Judge Michael Chmiel that Sova has a criminal history, including a 2018 conviction for residential burglary in Algonquin, where he also battered two people. He was sentenced to four years in prison.

“This is a violent crime,” Cantre said, adding that the new charge is detainable because it is a forceable felony.

Sova’s attorney, Patrick Walsh, said that Sova is not threatening, that Sova had a butane lighter and not a firearm, and that his note to the teller was “politely written.”

“Nothing here [says] he threatened somebody,” Walsh said adding that Sova should be released pretrial with GPS tracking and electronic monitoring restricting him from going to the bank.

Cantre rebutted that there are other banks and stores Sova could rob and that he is a threat to the community.

The judge allowed Sova to be released with conditions, although reluctantly, saying, “I have to worry about the community.”

“I’m challenged by this,” Chmiel said, noting Sova’s current charges and criminal record, but he said he has to follow the law, meaning the SAFE-T Act, which leans toward releasing defendants.

Sova was released with conditions including electronic monitoring and was ordered not to have any contact with any Huntington Bank in Illinois. He also is not to possess any dangerous weapons or firearms and is not allowed to leave the state without permission from the court. He is due back in court May 21.

This story has been updated to reflect that Sova was taken into federal custody prior to leaving McHenry County jail.

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