WOODSTOCK – Richmond-Burton Community High School athletic director Patrick Elder now faces a felony drunken driving charge based on prior convictions.
Elder appeared in McHenry County court Wednesday with his defense lawyer, Hank Sugden, and pleaded not guilty to the aggravated driving under the influence charge. He was taken by a jail official to be processed on the felony charge. He was out of jail custody shortly after 10 a.m. once he posted 10 percent of his $40,000 bond.
He faces up to seven years in prison or probation if convicted, according to state law. If Elder were to be convicted and get probation, he would be required to serve at least 10 days in jail or complete 480 hours of community service.
He also could lose driving privileges for at least 10 years, according to state law.
Elder, who was hired in 2006 as the Rockets’ athletic director and head football coach, was charged July 15 with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol after Spring Grove police stopped his vehicle on Route 173 shortly after midnight, according to police reports. Police said Elder refused to undergo any sobriety tests.
The 44-year-old previously was found guilty of DUI in connection with incidents in 1991 and 1995 in McLean County. He also was convicted on a felony theft charge from a 1991 incident.
Richmond-Burton School District 157 Superintendent Tom Lind said in August that Elder would not serve as the high school’s head football coach for the 2017 season. Although he is stepping away from his coaching duties, he remains active as the athletic director, Lind said last month.
Lind, when reached Wednesday morning, declined to comment on how this would effect Elder’s employment, citing the fact that it was a personnel issue.
Elder was sentenced to 30 days in jail and 24 months of probation after pleading guilty to charges of DUI and improper traffic lane use in 1995, records show.
Elder also pleaded guilty in 1993 to a charge of resisting or obstructing a peace officer, according to the McLean County website.
In the case of District 157, applicants are required to submit to fingerprint-based background checks that include the statewide Sex Offender Database and Violent Offender Against Youth Database, according to the District 157 board policy manual.
Nothing in the policy manual forbids hiring a person with a previous felony conviction who is not disqualified under state law.
The superintendent is responsible for making dismissal recommendations to the school board “consistent with the board’s goal of having a highly qualified, high-performing staff,” the policy manual states.
Elder next is due in court Sept. 27.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect Elder's previous charges.