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Robert Crimo Jr., father of accused Highland Park shooter, begins prison sentence

Robert Crimo Jr., father of accused Highland Park shooter, reports to jail
Robert Crimo Jr., father of accused Highland Park shooter, reports to jail 00:36

CHICAGO (CBS/AP) -- The father of the accused Highland Park shooter began his 60-day prison sentence Wednesday.

Robert Crimo Jr. pleaded guilty on Nov. 6 to seven misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct, in exchange for a sentence of 60 days in jail and 2 years probation.

He had been set to face trial that day on seven felony counts of reckless conduct, as Lake County prosecutors sought to prove he should have known his son was a danger to the public when he applied for a Firearm Ownership Identification card. Robert Crimo III was only 19 at the time, and needed a parent to sign his application.

Crimo arrived at the Lake County courthouse wearing a white T-shirt with large black letters reading: "I'm A Political Pawn." The back said: "LAWS, FACTS, REALITY." He turned it inside out before entering the courtroom, but the judge threatened to hold him in contempt of court if he violated court rules again, according to his lawyer, George Gomez, who said he did not know what his client's shirt meant.

APTOPIX Shooting July Fourth Parade
Robert E. Crimo Jr., arrives at the Lake County Courthouse, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023, in Waukegan, Ill. Crimo Jr. will serve 60 days in jail and two years of probation. Nam Y. Huh / AP

court decorum order for the case prohibits any spectator from wearing or displaying a message that could affect the orderly administration of proceedings.

Illinois offers most misdemeanor offenders the opportunity to reduce their sentence by half for good behavior, meaning Crimo Jr. may only serve 30 days. Although jail time will be brief, the case is significant because it is a rare example of a parent or guardian held criminally liable for the actions of an alleged mass shooter.  

Lake County prosecutors have argued Robert Crimo Jr. knew his son had "violent ideations" before signing his FOID card application in 2019.   

"We hope that by holding this father accountable, and by sending him to jail, we are sending a powerful message to others," Lake County State's Attorney Eric Rinehart said after Crimo Jr. took the plea deal.

Rinehart said, had the case gone to trial, witnesses would have testified that at the time Crimo Jr. signed his son's FOID card application, he was aware his son recently had sent suicidal text messages, that police had reports Crimo III had threatened his family, that police had received reports of Crimo III threatening to commit suicide, and that Crimo III "had expressed an interest in committing a mass shooting" in 2014 or 2015.

Under the plea deal, Crimo Jr. is admitting he was aware his son "was a substantial risk to others" when he signed Crimo III's FOID card application.

After Crimo Jr. pleaded guilty, his attorney said Crimo Jr. didn't want to risk jeopardizing his son's upcoming murder trial.

"As you all know, this matter was going to be tried first before his son's case was going to be tried. This would mean that the potential key evidence would be disclosed to the public, jeopardizing his son's fair right to trial. As a father, Mr. Crimo wanted to ensure that his son received a fair trial," attorney George Gomez said. "Mr. Crimo ultimately did not want his family to be more torn apart on the public stage than it already is."

As part of his plea deal, he must also perform 100 hours of community service, surrender his FOID card, and give up any weapons he might own. Crimo Jr. also agreed not to sponsor any minors for FOID cards in the future.  

Meantime, Crimo III's murder trial date is expected to be scheduled during a hearing in December. He has been indicted on a total of 117 counts, including 21 counts of first-degree murder - three counts for each person who died - along with 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery - one for each surviving victim who was struck by a bullet, bullet fragment, or shrapnel, according to Lake County prosecutors.  

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