Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart promised residents that he would “prosecute acts of hate to the fullest extent of the law,” but he wasn’t telling the truth.

In August 2023, Round Lake Beach police arrested David M. Dolan and Anthony P. Shields after they were caught spray painting racial slurs, swastikas, and other hate speech on a childcare facility and business. They were each charged with more than a dozen felony hate crimes, according to media reports. Upon their arrest, Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said, “The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office will thoroughly investigate and aggressively prosecute acts of hate to the fullest extent of the law.” Rinehart also called the crimes “disturbing.”

Unfortunately for Lake County residents, State’s Attorney Rinehart did precisely the opposite of what he said he would do. Instead of prosecuting Dolan and Shields for their hate crimes, he accepted sweetheart plea deals for both, with them only needing to plead guilty to criminal damage to property. Their punishment for their crimes was only probation and community service.

This week, while on probation, Dolan and Shields set fire to the emptied Regal Cinema in Round Lake Beach, causing more than a hundred thousand dollars of damage to the building and causing approximately 20 fire departments to be called to the scene to put out the fire.

Eric Rinehart’s office does not do its most basic duty to prosecute crime. Neither Dolan nor Shields should have been given the ability to commit horrendous hate crimes that terrorize minority populations and be given the slap on the wrist of pleading to criminal damage to property.

A New Direction for Lake County

As Lake County State’s Attorney, I would lead our office in this area by requiring all defendants arrested for hate crimes to plead guilty as charged or stand trial. If this had happened, neither of the defendants could have set fire to the movie theater.