Ex-Joliet housing official charged with two felony cases will stay in jail

Robert Hernandez, 62, of Joliet

A former Joliet housing official will remain in the Will County jail on drug possession charges and another charge alleging he violated a stalking no-contact order.

On Thursday, Will County Judge Dave Carlson prevented the pretrial release of Robert Hernandez, 62, of Joliet, who was arrested twice in Joliet. Hernandez has been charged with possessing cocaine in two vehicles on two occasions, as well as violating a protective order.

Carlson told Hernandez he had a problem with defendants picking up new charges.

At the outset of the court hearing, Carlson told both parties in the case that he knew Hernandez and he believed everyone in Joliet knows Hernandez as well. Carlson said he wasn’t going to recuse himself and a prosecutor did not object to that decision at the hearing.

Since leaving the housing authority board, Hernandez has become known in recent years for his Facebook videos of breaking news and events in Joliet.

Hernandez credits his followers as well as former Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk with providing him news information. O’Dekirk, who was a former law partner of Carlson before the latter became a judge in 2013, had recommended Hernandez’s appointment to the Housing Authority of Joliet board in 2015.

By keeping Hernandez locked up on two cases, Carlson effectively upheld an order in one of those cases from Judge Donald DeWilkins to keep Hernandez detained.

DeWilkins based his decision on Wednesday on a petition from prosecutors that alleged Hernandez violated a protective order three times on Feb. 10 and again on Feb. 14. The protective order was filed by a woman who claimed Hernandez was stalking her and harming her children.

Defense attorney Jeff Tomczak for retired Joliet police sergeant Javier Esqueda attends a motion hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville on Thursday, March 1st. Esqueda is charged with official misconduct for accessing and leaking the police squad video of the arrest of Eric Lurry, 37, who died following his arrest on drug charges in January 2020.

Hernandez’s attorney Jeff Tomczak argued his client made no specific attempt to contact with the people in the protective order and the alleged violation was based on geography. The order prohibits Hernandez from being within 1,000 feet of the woman’s residence.

While Tomczak argued there were no facts to support the prosecutors’ allegations, DeWilkins said he didn’t have any evidence showing they were not true.

“I have to take a look at this proffer and take it as it is,” DeWilkins said.

At Thursday’s hearing, Tomczak asked Carlson to strike a new petition from prosecutors to keep Hernandez detained, which was filed in his first felony case. The petition was based on the alleged violations that led to Hernandez’s second felony case.

Tomczak said the petition was filed well beyond a 72-hour statutory deadline. Will County Assistant State’s Attorney Alexandra Molesky argued state law sets no time frame on the petition they filed.

After Carlson granted prosecutors’ petition to keep Hernandez detained, he set the case for a March 6 hearing. He indicated he may assign the cases to Judge John Connor as he handles drug cases.

Some of Hernandez’s breaking news videos on Facebook have appeared on CBS and NBC news stations. But most of his photos, videos and information appeared in numerous articles over the years on the local websites.