Motorcycle club member gets five years in prison for role in armed robbery

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A Barry man has been sent to prison for his role in a 2012 armed robbery in downtown Quincy.

Gerald R. Utterback, 45, was sentenced Tuesday to five years in the Illinois Department of Corrections by Adams County Circuit Judge William Mays.

In January, a jury found Utterback guilty of aggravated robbery, robbery and theft of a person for a May 20, 2012, incident at the intersection of 12th and Hampshire. Utterback was found not guilty of the most serious charge, armed robbery, for which he could have been sent to prison for up to 15 years. Mays' sentence was one year over the minimum allowed by law.

According to court documents, Utterback was one of four members of the Midwest Percenters motorcycle club who surrounded members of the Tunnel Rats motorcycle club and stole their vests during the incident.

"I don't know if you call this ‘bullying,' " Mays said. "I don't know if you call it ‘big boys with big toys.' I don't know what expression you can use, but the actions you took that day amounted to a crime."

The 90-minute hearing opened with Mays denying three post-trial motions by Todd Eyler, Utterback's attorney, including a motion for a new trial.

Eyler called Utterback's friends and family to the stand. They spoke about how Utterback was a good friend and father to his two children and how a prison term would have an adverse effect on his family.

Adams County State's Attorney Jon Barnard pointed out four reasons why "the needle pointed a long way from probation" for Utterback. Barnard cited a written statement made during a presentence investigation in which Utterback said he didn't have anything to do with the May 2012 incident.

Barnard said Utterback joined the Midwest Percenters in 2009. Barnard recounted a 2011 Pike County incident in which Utterback was convicted of a misdemeanor weapons charge. He received 24 months conditional discharge for illegally carrying a firearm and unlawful use of a blackjack knife.

"Someone earlier said that just because you wear a (motorcycle club) jacket that it doesn't make you a bad person," Barnard said. "It's what you do when you put that jacket on."

Barnard said the May 2012 incident itself was reason for Utterback to be sent to prison, calling it "an act of designed terror."

Barnard also said the Adams County Probation Department did not recommend probation because of the violent nature of the incident.

"When you commit a crime like this, an act of pure thuggery, in broad daylight in the middle of the city of Quincy, you need to be separated from society," Barnard said.

Eyler argued that Utterback should be given a chance at probation, saying that he had no doubt that Utterback could successfully complete any terms of the probation. Eyler told Mays that a prison term would create a significant hardship for Utterback's family.

Utterback, wearing a standard jail-issue jumpsuit, stood and gave a brief statement before the sentencing.

"We meant to embarrass them," Utterback said about the Tunnel Rats members. "They had been making false police reports on us. We were trying to prove a point. The (vests) were never taken."

Utterback said he had passed on a probation deal offered by the state and went to trial because he believed the vests were never taken.

"I'm sorry that I was there that day, but I can't take it back," he said.

The 2011 Pike County incident struck a chord with Mays.

"I wonder if the court had punished you more, and you had felt the sting, that maybe we wouldn't be here today," Mays told Utterback. "You would have realized that guns, leather, motorcycles and taking things from people don't mix."

Utterback was given 73 days' credit for time served in the Adams County Jail. He was remanded into custody at the end of his four-day trial. The jury deliberated for about three hours.

Two other Midwest Percenters members have yet to be sentenced.

Timothy Jackson, 56, of Roodhouse faces up to 15 years in prison for aggravated robbery at an April 3 sentencing.

Zane Liggett will be sentenced April 2 to probation on a felony mob action charge. Liggett took a plea deal from the state and testified against both Utterback and Jackson.

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DON O'BRIEN
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