“If You Obey The Law, You’ve Got Nothing To Fear” Except the Justice System

As much as I would like to throw this into the faces of my haters, I will let the facts speak for themselves.

Cop apologists will often use the phrase “if you’re not breaking the law, you’ve got nothing to worry about”. First and foremost, this statement is inherently flawed, because of the inflated number of possible laws that one can break. In 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported on a book called “Three Felonies A Day” by Boston civil-liberties lawyer, Harvey Silverglate. That article can be found here.

With that said, I’ll begin my story.

As some of my fans in disguise (haters) are aware, I was arrested in 2013 for alleged credit card fraud by the DeKalb Illinois Police Department. This is no secret and I’ve never attempted to hide it.

After my famous viral video of myself protesting a checkpoint in 2014, the Daily Chronicle (local paper) wrote a police apologist article, stating the comments from police regarding the checkpoint and showing bias to their method. Two days later, the Chronicle wrote a smear article on me in an attempt to discredit my actions at the checkpoint and my character. A similar article was written by The Kane County Chronicle with the click bait title “Man Behind Viral Video Now Facing Charges” as if I were facing charges stemming from the checkpoint. Every article mentions the following felony case, implying that I was a criminal, and only a criminal would protest a police checkpoint. I’m willing to bet that the smear articles by either platforms are one of, if not the most widely shared articles ever written by the papers in their entirety. They have been shared globally, spanning all of my social media platforms by people I’ve never heard of. It’s quite amusing to see someone from New Zealand trolling me using an article that was written just blocks from my house.

hqdefaultAnyway, back to the original topic… I know the cop apologists are itching to discredit it somehow to validate their delusions of a “just state”.

It was June, 2013. I was driving delivery for a local restaurant at the time. The restaurant is arguably the busiest restaurant in town, with a high volume for deliveries. Being a Mexican restaurant, the majority of employees were Spanish speakers, and there was frequently a language barrier with the English speaking customers and English speaking employees.

A typical delivery from my perspective would look like as follows:
I would arrive at said delivery address.
The address for the delivery would be written poorly, spelled incorrectly, or just plain incorrect.
I would call the phone number provided to get more information, and it would be incorrect, or someone would answer the phone, “bueno?”

This would force me to call the restaurant and ask for help. My calls were frequently answered with a snappy, “please hold!” while I was sitting in the middle of the road, waiting to deliver the food before it got cold or the customer decided to cancel.
After that was finally figured out, I would get to the door, tell the customer the price and they would say, “I already paid with a credit card”. Of course you did, and of course there would be no credit card attached to the order and I would have to go through the entire process again.a087b0c68f6d871a0191aadad6b227c5

Needless to say, this work environment and practice was extremely stressful. Ultimately, I sought out a way to alleviate some of this unnecessary stress and make my job a little easier.

PayPal offers a device called PayPal Swipe. It is a small plastic device that attaches to your smart phone and allows you to swipe debit/credit cards. It allows a place for tipping and signature and even pinpoints an exact GPS location every time the device is used. It even allots for a tax charge and summarizes your billing statements. It is 100% legal, and allegedly “secure”.

I decided that this method would be optimal to my job, and mental health. I obtained explicit permission from my manager to use the device to swipe customer’s cards for food orders. After using the device for a couple months, and after a couple hundred transactions, I discovered that this was an amazing way to conduct business. Customers were happier not having to deal with the security issue of giving their credit information over the phone to some potential high school kid. I found that they tipped much higher, in my opinion, mostly because of the novelty of the device and the fact they could sign with their fingertip for delivery. Props to the free market.

On June 13th 2013, I made a delivery for $40.22 to a woman by the name of Nancy Celitans. I couldn’t tell you what she ordered.

Three days later, I was confronted by police at my workplace. An officer approached me as I was walking into the building and asked me who I was. I asked him, “who wants to know?”. He never told me I was being detained, and never told me what his presence was regarding. After I refused to answer any of his questions, he stormed off back to his squad car, proclaiming “I’ll be back with a warrant!” You do that, officer Dickbag.

Officer Dickbag did just what he said he would do. Two days later, I was arrested on my front porch, half naked. I had jeans on and ran to the door thinking it was the UPS man there to deliver a package I was expecting. Without thinking, I swung open the front door and I was greeted by four men armed with guns. They said they were there to arrest me on felony charges of credit theft. When I asked if I could gather some clothes, they told me that they would be happy to search through my house and bring me some. I declined.

collage_0I was taken to the police station, wearing nothing but my jeans. June isn’t blistering cold, but it’s not beautifully warm either. I sat for about an hour in a holding cell and was not offered any kind of clothing or cover. I was to the point that I was freezing sitting in their cell that I had to ask for a shirt. They gave me a shirt, and told me that I couldn’t keep it when I left. I literally had to give their ratty t-shirt back to them when I was transferred to the county jail.

I sat in the county jail for 8 hours. My bail was $15,000 at 10%.

Here’s where my journey just begins…

I won’t bore you, the reader, with too many details as the next three years are filled with redundancy, continuances, legal process and utterly complete nonsense. Just know that I spent thousands of dollars in legal fees, fuel for traveling to and from court over 36 times and time missed from work. I will also not barrage you with details about how I couldn’t leave the country or get a passport, travel freely, own a weapon, get certain jobs etc. I will however, present the relevant facts.

I was able to obtain a letter from my employer (who gave me permission to use the device) backing me on the transaction. Immediately, I hired a private attorney despite not being able to afford one. I decided that because it was such a serious charge, and I was innocent, that I wouldn’t have to pay more than a thousand because this should be an open and closed case… one would think.

After paying the private attorney for about six months, I was no longer able to afford his fees and he dropped me. He did not proceed on the case because there was an open balance with him, which I understand to an extent.

Soon thereafter, I was appointed a public defender and for almost a year of going through continuances and discovery, the woman public defender had a “personal leave” and was removed from my case.

550732a9aa110.imageAfter about two and a half years into the case, I was contacted prior to an upcoming court date by the new county public defender, Chip Criswell. During our initial conversation, he revealed to me that he had information regarding the case and was interested in hearing my side of the story. Immediately after giving him my summary he said, and I’ll paraphrase, “if what you’re telling me is true, which it appears to be, I don’t know why this case has gone on as long as it has.” That’s a great question, Mr Criswell.

On May 2nd, 2016, Almost three years since the alleged incident, I was found not guilty after a 402 conference and bench trial in which I was promised agreement for a non guilty verdict. This of course was the alternative to simply dismissing the case; being that a dismissal would implicate the state for issuing a faulty warrant for my arrest. The state basically used “due process” to cover their tracks.

As it turns out, Ms Celitans placed the charges against me, verbatim, “on a hunch” that I had stolen her credit information after I swiped her card in exchange for her food. Apparently in DeKalb county, “a hunch” is probable cause on a felony arrest warrant.

So there you have it. I was arrested, extorted, humiliated, publicly shamed, ridiculed, criminalized and many of my Constitutional Rights restricted all for NOT breaking ANY law.

I’ll repeat.

I broke absolutely no law, committed no crime (victim or none) and I became a victim of the legal system. The same legal system in which I actively CopBlock and hold public officials accountable for their crimes against The People.

33830634This is not the first time the officials in DeKalb County have exploited someone’s freedom for personal gain or political interest. In 2011, Jack McCullough was charged with the murder of a 7 year old girl (an alleged crime that occurred in 1957) and sentenced to life in prison. An article regarding the case in the Chicago Tribune stated, “Investigators at the time questioned McCullough, then a resident of the same Sycamore neighborhood as the Ridulphs (victim’s family) and known as John Tessier. But authorities determined he was in Rockford near the time of the abduction and would have been unable to travel between there and Sycamore to commit the crime.” After years of legalese and paperwork and a lengthy, publicized trial, McCullough was found not guilty and released from custody last month.

The featured video is myself, documenting my thoughts shortly after the court date of which I was found not guilty. Needless to say, I was angry, and still am. A severe injustice has occurred here. Not that I expect much more from the state, but a person never thinks something like this could ever happen to them. Even after the non guilty verdict, and my bond was returned to me, I was still extorted of $150 “court fee” just for being implicated into a crime I did not commit, and forced to use their courts.

Say what you will about me, or my personal and political beliefs; I was arrested and charged with a bogus crime simply for doing my job and being innovative.

There is no right to a speedy trial in the county of DeKalb, Illinois.
There is no right to innocence until proven guilty in the county of DeKalb, Illinois.
There is certainly no right to “justice” in the county of DeKalb, Illinois.

Your argument, “If you obey the law, you have nothing to fear” is invalid.

Ryan Scott

Ryan Scott is a journalist and police brutality/accountability activist in the Northern Illinois area. Ryan is the founder of DeKalb County Cop Watch, Illinois Against Checkpoints, and also known for several viral videos involving police activism.