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Williamson County commissioner battles cell phone citation…sort of

Posted by on Saturday, September 1st, 2018 @ 9:43 pm.


WILLIAMSON CO., Ill. - Brent Gentry might be a county commissioner in Williamson...but that doesn't exempt him from a traffic citation.

Especially for using a cell phone while driving, something that's rarely charged these days, although pretty much everybody's breaking the law doing it.

However, the situation with Gentry's ticket isn't quite as cut-and-dried as anyone else's...and there seems to be a lot of strange little facets connected to it.

What we know is this: 

Sometime around mid-to-late April of this year, our Marion correspondent received a phone call, in which she was advised that Brent Gentry got a ticket for talking on his cell phone (Electronic Communication Device While Driving) and to check Judici entry for Robert B. Gentry (that'd be Brent).

The ticket was dated April 9 and first appearance was May 2. Gentry did not show May 2.

When the case had been updated online, Gentry's appearance was scheduled for August 28 and, following basic procedure, Saline County State's Attorney Jayson Clark was posted as prosecutor (because Gentry is a public official in Williamson County, in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict, Williamson wisely removed any of their prosecutors from the docket and shopped out Clark from neighboring Saline, as they're are required to do under the circumstances.)

However, Gentry didn’t show the 28th, either.

Records our correspondent obtained show that he went in on August 27 and pled guilty. He paid his $120 fine and received 90 days court supervision. And now, Gentry’s mad about the court supervision since it’s a non-moving violation.

Our correspondent reached out to Gentry and received the following comment:

"Yes, I did receive what the call a Petty Electronic Device non-moving citation," Gentry told our correspondent. "I was driving a dealer vehicle that day and it was not set up like my vehicle, with a phone cradle and bluetooth music. I was sitting still at a stoplight and I was finding Pandora music on my device. Officer Bart Baldwin (of MPD) clearly saw it was me and once the light turned green, I put my device on the dash and he decided to pull in behind me and followed me over a mile, then pulled me over. While he followed me I noticed two people pass by us with a cell phone attached to their ear. Out of curiosity, I looked into previous weeks of court dockets which was well over a thousand traffic cases to see how many citations like this were issued and only found one. It was mine, which I found very interesting. I am no different than anyone else and paid the ticket and went on about my business."

Which sounds like pretty much what anyone would say if they received such a citation...but it gets weirder.

It's being reported to us that Gentry has obtained Officer Baldwin's phone records. We don't know why. Actually, we can't quite fathom what purpose that would serve. But...that's what's happening.

And people in the know are now opining that this "isn't over," despite Gentry having paid the citation.

Whatever the case, the best bet in this situation is this: Always take it to jury trial. If you don't like your citation, be steadfast in insisting that you have a trial. The chances are high that the county's going to dismiss the citation because jury trials cost...and as you are probably painfully aware, downstate counties, having been mismanaged for decades, are hurting for money. And yes, you CAN have a jury trial on a traffic ticket, moving or non-moving; don't let anyone tell you any different.

Prolly shoulda done that, Brent. But we're keeping up with it...and we'll see what shakes out.


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Posted by on Sep 1 2018. Filed under Williamson. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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