State senator acquitted of trespassing, damaging neighbor’s property
Illinois State Senator 31st District Suzi Schmidt of Lake Villa is interviewed by CBS television outside the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan with her attorney Charles Schneider after being cleared of two misdemeanor charges. Schmidt was charged with criminal damage to property and trespassing. | Thomas Delany Jr.~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 24, 2012 10:02PM
State Sen. Suzi Schmidt (R-Lake Villa) was acquitted Wednesday of trespassing and criminal damage to property charges stemming from a June squabble with neighbors.
After the ruling, Schmidt said it was “very sad” the dispute with a neighboring family had escalated to the point that she was hit with misdemeanor charges
“I’m happy we had time in court. I had no doubt (of the outcome),” said Schmidt, a Republican legislator from Lake Villa who already had announced she was not running for re-election.
Lake County Judge George Strickland ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Schmidt of the criminal charges that she had stormed onto a neighbor’s property and damaged a sack of animal feed.
But Strickland left in place an order of protection barring Schmidt from contacting those neighbors, who contended Schmidt bombarded them for more than a year with phone calls and emails because she believed her now-estranged husband was having an affair with a woman in that family.
Schmidt’s June 12 arrest also followed earlier disclosures that police had been called several times to her Lake County home because of domestic disputes involving her husband.
That included one instance on Christmas Day 2010 when Schmidt , the former longtime chairwoman of the Lake County board, called 911 and told the operator to disregard any calls from her husband.
Authorities have said Schmidt locked her husband out of their home during a quarrel, though Schmidt was never charged as a result of that dispute.
Two neighbors on Wednesday testified they felt harassed by Schimdt and had asked her several times to leave them alone.
Schmidt denied damaging the feed bag, saying she went onto her neighbors’ property to look for a ladder she needed to clean her roof gutters.
She testified she didn’t see a no-trespassing sign on the property.
Strickland acquitted Schmidt saying he couldn’t be sure what happened that day.
“I am not deciding this case on reasonable suspicion,” Strickland said.