Editor’s note: This story contains descriptions of domestic violence.
CHICAGO — A Bucktown man with a history of domestic violence is now a convicted felon after accepting a plea deal in a case where he was charged with having an arsenal of weapons.
The plea deal, worked out between the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and lawyers for James Mather, brings an end to a case that lasted 17 months.
Mather, 34, pled guilty to one non-expungeable class 3 felony and will be on probation with conditions for the next two years. If he violates his probation, he faces 2-5 years in prison.
Mather was arrested Aug. 8, 2019 while out on bond for attacks on two former girlfriends. He was charged with felony possession of a firearm without a valid Firearm Owner ID as well as five misdemeanor counts of unlawful use of a weapon, misdemeanor possession of exploding bullets, misdemeanor possession of anabolic steroids and a city violation of possessing a firearm silencer.
As part of Monday’s plea deal, Mather pled guilty to one count of possessing a firearm, a Ruger 10/22 rifle, without a valid FOID card. Mather’s FOID card was previously revoked because of orders of protection against him by two former girlfriends — one who wants to go by the pseudonym “Gina” to protect her privacy, and Amy Pudlo, who came forward in 2019 after Mather allegedly beat and choked he in an “insane rage.”
Mather is now on two years probation with TASC —Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities — and must be evaluated by a psychiatrist and if given medication, must be monitored to ensure he’s taking it. He also must participate in individual talk therapy at least twice per month; continue group therapy; participate in anger management classes; cannot have any alcohol or drugs and will be tested monthly for that; cannot possess any weapons; and cannot have any contact with Pudlo and Gina. Additionally, for the first three months, Mather has a curfew that orders him to be inside his home from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
The electronic monitor that Mather has worn for 479 days came off Friday, but the GPS monitor to ensure he complies with the curfew will remain, court officials said. After three months, the court will evaluate Mather’s compliance and can decide to adjust the curfew and accordingly.
In the 2019 case involving the two former girlfriends, Mather was charged with two domestic battery charges. However, in a move that blindsided the victims on September 10, 2019, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dropped the charges in exchange for him pleading guilty to one count of battery.
Both victims told Block Club they were misled by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. They had pushed for a guilty plea to domestic violence charges. Both women said the domestic battery charge was important to them because it is one of a few crimes that cannot be expunged from a person’s record.
In the gun case, Cook County Judge Arthur Willis initially set Mather’s bond at $5,000, allowing him to walk free by posting a 10 percent deposit bond of $500.
That decision was publicly criticized by former Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi in a tweet, which said, “Is this the Chicago you want? For $500, you could walk out of jail after being arrested for possession of this arsenal.”
On Oct. 9, 2019, days after first being questioned by Block Club Chicago about Mather, prosecutors filed a motion to increase Mather’s bond. A judge complied, increasing it by 20 times to $100,000. Mather posted bond but was put on an electronic monitor and remained on it until Monday.
After learning that Mather’s gun case concluded Monday, Gina said she still resents how the state’s attorney’s office handled the initial battery cases involving her and Pudlo.
“I’m happy to learn about the outcome of his additional case, but it doesn’t change the fact that the Cook County State’s Attorney was negligent in the cases that involved other women,” Gina said.
She added that “I’m relieved that it’s not expungeable. Women and others have access to information and will know who they are dealing with and this will keep people safe.”
Pudlo agreed, saying “I think that it’s huge that it’s a non-expungeable felony because it’s something that sticks and if something happens in the future, it will be looked at with the seriousness that it should have had from the beginning.”
After asking Mather if he understood the deal several times on Monday, Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer reiterated to Mather the consequences if he violates any of the conditions of the deal.
“Mr. Mather, I’m very serious about this. You’re very close to going to the penitentiary. Take this opportunity to see if you have some health problems that need to be addressed, things in your past may have affected things so I’m going to give you this opportunity to get the help and see what happens. I do not want any violations whatsoever.”
The judge then set an April 21 court date to evaluate Mather’s compliance.
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