A trial is underway for a former Will County sheriff’s deputy charged with driving under the influence in a May 13 incident where his Ford Taurus struck a Dodge Grand Caravan outside a Speedway gas station in Plainfield.
On Thursday, prosecutors from the DuPage County State’s Attorney’s Office began their case against Ross Ricobene, 37, by calling three witnesses, which included the two occupants of the vehicle struck by Ricobene’s vehicle and the Plainfield police officer who arrested Ricobene.
After those witnesses testified, the trial was put on hold because of scheduling conflicts. It will resume Dec. 20.
Judge Cory Lund will decide whether Ricobene is guilty of DUI after Ricobene waived his right to a jury trial.
DuPage prosecutors were assigned to the case to avoid a conflict of interest with Will County prosecutors. Ricoebene is a Will County sheriff’s deputy who is a witness in 25 cases, according to a June 9 motion filed by Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow.
Ruth Morales, a railroad engineer, and Eric Keune, a railroad conductor, were the occupants of the Dodge Grand Caravan at the Speedway gas station, 15919 S. Lincoln Highway, Plainfield.
Both testified their vehicle was parked in a parking spot in front of the Speedway gas station. They said the vehicle was struck by Ricobene’s Ford Taurus, which had crossed over the handicap parking spot at the gas station before colliding with their vehicle.
“I was just kind of in disbelief,” Keune said of the crash.
Prosecutors showed surveillance video from the gas station that showed the Ford Taurus slowly moving across the handicap parking spot and then striking the front driver’s side of the Dodge Grand Caravan at what appeared to be an acute angle.
“There was minor cosmetic damage done to the van,” Keune said, adding there was some denting on their vehicle’s front fender.
When asked by prosecutors, Morales and Keune both affirmed they did not see anyone from the Ford Taurus get out of the vehicle to check on them or the damage done to their vehicle.
Keune said the driver, whom he identified in court as Ricobene, appeared to be asleep.
“His head was down and his eyes were closed,” Keune said.
Plainfield Police Officer Ryley Martin testified when he arrived on scene and checked out the Ford Taurus, he saw Ricobene appeared to be asleep while the engine was still running and the vehicle still in drive. The driver’s window was down.
When Martin put the vehicle in park and turned it off, he said he smelled a “very strong” odor of an alcoholic beverage from Ricobene’s breath. Martin used a flashlight and knocked on the vehicle to wake him up.
“He seemed very confused and disoriented,” Martin said.
Ultimately, Martin said he arrested Ricobene for DUI because he was at fault in the crash, asleep at the wheel, his breath had an alcoholic odor, he behaved in a slow, lethargic manner, his eyes were bloodshot and he had difficulties maintaining his balance.
Ricobene declined to perform a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer test.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this article did not state that Ross Ricobene is a former deputy with the Will County Sheriff’s Office. He resigned from the office on Nov. 4, 2022, according to Will County Sheriff’s Deputy Chief Dan Jungles.