The 76-year-old boyfriend of a 32-year-old woman charged with setting up a sex date with a 15-year-old boy believes he can spring his young lover from jail now that a judge lowered her bond.
"I'm working on it now to get that," veteran weekly newspaperman John Gabriel said of the $10,000 he needs to bail lady friend Margarita Hernandez out of jail.
Judge Richard Schoenstedt reduced Hernandez's bond from $250,000 to $100,000 Wednesday. She only needs to post 10 percent of that for her release from the Will County jail.
"Margarita has very substantial savings," said Gabriel, who like his live-in girlfriend is a precinct committeeman for the Troy Township Democrats.
While Hernandez might have money stashed away, Gabriel said he can't get at it. And he claims to have no cash himself, choosing to get by with just the "clothes on (his) back" to discourage people from suing him.
Until he figures a way to access Hernandez's savings, she will remain in jail, where she was taken following her arrest Thursday on charges she had sex with the teen.
Joliet Police Chief Mike Trafton Hernandez and the boy planned the tryst at her home on Joliet's far west side. But Gabriel claims his girlfriend was framed by enemies he made over the years while working for Joliet-area weekly newspapers.
"Whoever did this needs to be exposed," Gabriel said.
Trafton also said FBI agents raided the home where Gabriel and Hernandez live as part of an investigation into the possible production of child pornography.
FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde said she cannot comment on—or even confirm the existence of—an investigation conducted by her agency unless it results in criminal charges.
In court Tuesday, Hernandez's attorney, Steve Landis, argued that she is not a flight risk, that she has three sisters, two brothers and a mother living in Cicero, and that she has strong ties to the community.
Landis also pointed out Hernandez's connection to the Troy Township Democrats, said she is on the board of the Will County Historical Society and that she is an I&M Canal Tour Guide.
Not only that, but Hernandez volunteers for an organization that provides horseback rides to handicapped children, Landis said, and has won awards at her job with Southwest Airlines for performance and perfect attendance.
Landis went on to knock the case against Hernandez, saying prosecutors won't be able to prove it, and asked Schoenstedt to put the bond at $500.
As a condition of lowering the bond, Judge Schoenstedt forbade Hernandez from contacting anyone under 18 or doing any volunteer work out of concern that she might run into a boy or girl, possibly on a horse or the along the I&M Canal.
Schoenstedt did permit Hernandez to return to work for Southwest if she gets out of jail.