Two college students have been ordered to perform community service work and pay $350 in damages to Naperville Mayor A. George Pradel, after admitting they stole and damaged an outdoor statue of a dragon the mayor won in a charity auction.
Matthew T. Cavallaris, of Naperville’s southwest side, and Adam L. Lehnus, of Bartlett, were convicted of misdemeanor charges of criminal damage to property not exceeding $300 in connection with the incident last spring outside Pradel’s home, according to records on file in DuPage County Circuit Court. Companion charges that included theft and unlawful consumption of alcohol were dismissed in exchange for the men’s pleas.
Cavallaris, 21, lives on the 2200 block of Foxboro Lane in Naperville’s Stillwater neighborhood, and attends the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Lehnus, 20, lives on the 1100 block of Ancient Oaks Court in Bartlett, and is a student at North Central College in Naperville.
Both men were ordered to perform 50 hours of public service work as part of their penalties, court records indicated. They were also place on a year of court supervision and ordered to make a total of $350 restitution for damage done to the Fiberglass sculpture, records showed.
The 5-foot-tall, blue and purple statue, dubbed “Nighty-Knight,” was one of 50 created in 2006 by area artists and then auctioned off to raise money for the Naperville United Way.
Naperville police about 1:11 a.m. June 1 responded to a telephone call placed by Pradel’s wife, Patricia Pradel. She told police “she heard noises outside” her house, discovered the statue missing from its place on the front lawn and “could hear noises that sounded like someone was dragging the heavy dragon,” according to a written police narrative obtained by The Sun.
Police officers who were sent to the scene noted two men, later identified as Cavallaris and Lehnus, “walking up the embankment” near Fifth Avenue and Columbia Street, the police report stated. The embankment leads to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks and is not far from the Pradel home.
Lehnus and Cavallaris, upon seeing the police, “started walking fast across the street,” the narrative continued. Police stopped them and noted both appeared to be drunk, had “dirt, mud and grass stains on their clothes and shoes” and were “extremely out of breath and sweating profusely,” according to the report.
Cavallaris and Lehnus produced identification and repeatedly protested they were “just trying to go home ... from a party” at a home further north on Columbia Street, the narrative read. Police then looked down the embankment from which the men had emerged and saw the stolen sculpture, the report stated.
“It appeared that the dragon had been dragged ... from its home and then thrown approximately 40 feet down the embankment,” the narrative continued. The statue was found lying on its side and directly on the railroad tracks.
Lehnus and Cavallaris, under questioning at the scene, “both kept denying” they had anything to do with the theft or damage to the sculpture, and “they did not know what (police were) talking about,” according to the report. Lehnus at the time “was carrying a small, black and green Adidas bag on his back that contained three cans and two bottles of different types of alcoholic beverages,” the narrative declared.
Pradel did not immediately respond to a message left Thursday at his office in the Naperville Municipal Center that sought comment on the case.
An examination of court documents revealed neither Cavallaris nor Lehnus had a prior criminal record in DuPage, Kane or Will counties.