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Sterling detective faces DUI charge

Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014 2:27 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014 8:23 p.m. CDT

STERLING – The case of a Sterling police detective is working its way through court in Tazewell County after charges were filed from a car accident in January 2013.

Alex Chavira, 38, is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and failure to report an accident, though what the accident involved remains unclear.

According to court documents, Chavira was staying at a hotel in East Peoria when he was stopped and questioned by two East Peoria police officers at his hotel.

He was handcuffed by an officer and then, after questioning, the handcuffs were removed and Chavira returned to his hotel room.

Police later entered his hotel room and escorted him to the hotel's lobby, where he was arrested by a state police trooper and given a court date.

According to the Tazewell County sheriff's office, Chavira's name doesn't appear in its jail's system, so no mugshot was available.

The matter is expected to be resolved this summer.

Tazewell County is in central Illinois. Pekin is the county seat.

Sterling Police Chief Ron Potthoff said Chavira is still working with department detectives, but in a different role.

"I don’t like people getting paid for sitting at home," Potthoff said. "So I brought him in here on what I call 'on restricted duty.' That way they’re still being productive while they’re getting paid."

It's the same type of shift that another detective in the department, Mike Henry, was placed on before pleading guilty in January to a misdemeanor battery charge that resulted from a fight in a Sterling bar.

While on restricted duty, officers are "allowed to do some things, but not others," Potthoff said. For example, an officer wouldn't be allowed to be on patrol and issue tickets alone.

Chavira, a city employee, was assigned to the state-run Blackhawk Area Task Force at the time of the charge, Potthoff said.

"The state rules say you can’t be on active duty while there’s a charge hanging over your head," the chief said.

An internal investigation being conducted by state police won't be completed until Chavira's court proceedings are finished, Potthoff said.

Chavira is scheduled for a bench trial July 16, according to online court records.

His attorney, Brian Addy of Pekin, has filed a motion challenging his client's arrest. The attorney claims that East Peoria police entered Chavira's hotel room, "wherein he had a reasonable expectation of privacy," and escorted him back to the hotel lobby.

The officers had no right to enter Chavira's room without an arrest warrant, Addy said.

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