A Cook County Circuit Court judge on May 9 did not find Riverside resident Robert Golba in contempt for repeatedly violating a February court order after he found Golba’s Millbridge Road home a chronic public nuisance.
But Judge Kevin Lee warned Golba in no uncertain terms during the hearing, which was held via Zoom, that Golba faced stiffer penalties in the future if anyone other than Golba himself, a home healthcare professional or general contractor was found visiting, staying temporarily or living in in the home in the future.
“You have to take this matter seriously,” Lee told Golba, 64, who attended by phone after about a half-hour delay because he was having trouble accessing the hearing via Zoom.
“Fines and penalties can increase if there are further violations of this order,” said Lee, who imposed a new fine totaling $6,600 at the May 9 hearing, ordering those fines to be paid immediately.
The amount of the new fine corresponds to the total the village has tallied in legal fees since Feb. 21, when the judge entered his preliminary injunction against Golba and other defendants, said Carmen Forte, the attorney representing the village at the May 9 hearing.
Judge Lee also agreed with Forte’s request to extend the one-year “no visitors” order by having it end on May 9, 2024, instead of Feb. 21, 2024, and he ordered Golba to meet with Riverside police within 14 days to formulate a “safety plan” to ensure his order is complied with.
If the fines are not paid, Forte said, the village would enter a lien against the property.
At a Feb. 21 hearing, Lee had imposed fines of $1,850 but held them in abeyance to provide an incentive for Golba to comply with the “no visitors” order and attend to property maintenance, health and fire safety violations that had been flagged by a village inspector.
Following that February hearing, however, police repeatedly returned to Golba’s house at 225 Millbridge Road, including arresting two co-defendants in the case who Lee had ordered to stay away, William Bellavia and Caroline O’Brien, on April 3.
Public Safety Director Matthew Buckley said police encountered O’Brien twice more at Golba’s home on May 3 and May 7. Both times she was advised to leave the property but was not arrested, Buckley said.
In asking for the additional fines and for extending the “no visitors” order, Forte pointed out that the village was not yet seeking to bar all persons – Golba included – from the property, a penalty which Riverside’s chronic public nuisance ordinance provides for.
In response Judge Lee imposed additional fines and warned him that the defendants, including O’Brien, must be barred from his residence, Golba stated he would “guarantee” that would be the case.
William Bellavia, who also attended the hearing via Zoom, also promised to stay away from the home in the future, although he mentioned he still had possessions there and might need a police escort to retrieve them. Judge Lee, however, rejected Bellavia’s request to be dismissed as a defendant in the case, saying the village had to request that.
The next hearing date will be June 13 at 11:30 a.m.