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Judge Opts For Prison, Not Probation, For Summer Looting Suspect

Target store entrance
Ryan Denham
The exterior of Target the morning after looters struck overnight on June 1, 2020.

In a sentence contrary to a state recommendation for probation, a judge on Wednesday sentenced a Bloomington man to 4½ years in prison and ordered him to pay restitution to the Town of Normal for damages to police squad cars caused by looters earlier this year.

Anthony Crose was the first of more than 40 people to be sentenced by Judge William Yoder on charges related to the summer break-ins and thefts at several businesses, following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The large crowds seen on security video storming Target in Normal also damaged police vehicles and pelted officers with frozen water bottles, according to police.

The judge also ordered restitution of $84,567 to the police department, an amount that could be spread among Crose and other defendants if more convictions follow in the mob action cases.

Prosecutor David Fitt recommended probation and community service for the 23-year-old defendant.

Calling the recommendation for probation over prison “a tough call,” Fitt noted the mob action and resisting arrest cases against Crose were the man’s first felonies. Crose received 2½ years for mob action and an additional 2 years for resisting arrest during a 2019 drunken driving incident.

Most of Crose’s criminal history “points to a very serious ongoing substance abuse issue,” said Fitt, adding Crose expressed a willingness to turn his life around.

“The state is willing to give him a chance to prove,” said Fitt.

Defense lawyer Matthew Koetters supported the state’s recommendation. Crose was on a waiting list for substance abuse treatment when he became involved in the mob action incident, said Koetters.

The 166 days in jail waiting for his case to be resolved “have been a wake-up call” for Crose, said Koetters.

Judge William Yoder
Credit Staff / WGLT
Judge William Yoder previously was McLean County's top prosecutor.

In his statement to the court, Crose apologized to police, Target and the two officers involved in the 2019 arrest.

“This isn’t what I want for the rest of my life,” said Crose, who will be eligible for day-for-day credit on his sentence.

In his remarks before imposing the sentence, Yoder said the looting, theft and mob action cannot be tolerated in the community. A message must be sent, he said, to deter others from similar misconduct.

Crose’s hearing was postponed from Dec. 1 to allow prosecutors to gather damage figures from Kohl’s, Target, the Normal Police Department and other victims of the looting. The insistence on restitution by the judge came after the state indicated none of the victims were seeking damages because insurance covered the losses.

Crose was not ordered to contribute to the $33,000 in lost merchandise reported by Target because he did not enter the store.

The court-ordered damages are part of the tough stance Yoder has taken in the looter cases. In September, he said he would not consider a fully negotiated plea agreement for Crose or any defendant. Such agreements require a defendant to plead guilty to certain charges in exchange for a specific sentence.

Two motions filed by defendants seeking to replace Yoder on their cases are pending.

Defense lawyers have expressed concern that accused looters with little or no criminal history will not be considered for a probation program for first-time offenders. Yoder has indicated he will review a pre-sentence investigation with each proposed plea before handing down a sentence.

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