An Illinois state representative’s daughter has been arrested and charged for using a staple gun to assault her mother’s political rival.
According to Reuters, 26-year-olds Jessica Soto and her boyfriend Bradley Fichter were each charged on three counts of assaulted battery on Robert Zwolinski, in addition to Fichter being charged with a felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report for the March 6 staple gun incident.
Zwolinski ultimately lost to Soto’s mother, incumbent candidate Cynthia Soto in the state’s 4th District primary election, who had 80 percent of the popular vote. Chicago’s 4th District area includes the Bucktown, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, West Town, Wicker Park, and Ukrainian Village neighborhoods.
The Chicago Tribune noted that Soto and Fichter had stapling pro-Soto campaign flyers to a building near Zwolinski’s campaign headquarters on the 800 block of North Ashland Avenue when they were confronted by the victim.
The moment of that confrontation, however, is when the details get a little fuzzy.
Cook County prosecutors allege that Fichter punched Zwolinski repeatedly, including an initial strike to his eye. That is when Soto is believed to have punched the politician in the ribs, knocking him to the ground and continuing to punch and choke him. Prosecutors then noted that Soto “squeezed his genital area,” smashed an empty beer bottle on his nose – breaking it in the process – and used the aforementioned staple gun – which The Inquisitr recently labeled a “gateway gun” – on Zwolinski’s forehead.
Zwolinski would suffer a broken nose and bruised ribs, in addition to requiring six stitches to close the staple gun wound to his face.
“The girl was yelling while I was on the ground fighting the man off of me,” said Zwolinski in court. “[She said] ‘This is Soto’s territory! This isn’t your territory’.” That is when Zwolinwki claims that he was shot by Soto’s staple gun between the eyes.
Politics is a contact sport. Apparently that's literally the case. pic.twitter.com/wIlFIP366W
— Robert Zwolinski (@BobZ_Chicago4th) March 7, 2016
According to the couple’s lawyer Frank Avila, however, Zwolinski’s case is “sour grapes,” and the politician himself is responsible for instigating the fight as well as for potentially stapling his own head, just for attention.
“Taking down somebody’s sign and ripping it down is destruction of property,” noted Avila to Cook County Courthouse judge Maria Kuriakos Cecil, in court, before continuing that Zwolinski, himself, should be the one facing charges.
“These charges are way exaggerated,” said Avila – noting that Soto had been misidentified by witnesses and did not even participate in the melee – after the couple’s bond hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building. “If he’s going around saying a girl’s beating him up, that’s sad too. Maybe it’s good he lost the race.”
Avila alleges that Zwolinski, himself, started the fight by pushing Fichter and ordering them to stop hanging signs and that his clients acted in self-defense. He also noted that Zwolinski’s close connections with the state attorney’s office – paired with his primary election loss to Cynthia Soto – were the only reason that charges were even filed.
Judge Cecil, meanwhile, was quick to label the dispute as “sad.”
“I’m really sad at how this whole election process is going,” she noted while revealing that she believed Soto and Fichter were within their rights to be taking campaign materials along the street. “It’s really sad this is going on. It’s an embarrassment to our entire country.”
Soto’s and Fichter’s bonds were each set for $25,000; both defendants were ordered not to go near Zwolinski, his girlfriend, or his campaign headquarters. Cynthia Soto did not appear for the hearings.
Presumably, the defendants will also not be allowed to staple gun anyone else’s faces for the foreseeable future.
[Image by Seth Perlman/AP Images]