WED DEC 03 2008 — The state appellate court ruled Wednesday that the owners of Diamonds Gentlemen’s Club near West Chicago will be co-defendants in a lawsuit involving John Homatas, 26, who drove a vehicle under the influence in a crash that killed three and seriously injured himself on Illinois Highway 25 between Kenyon Road U.S. Highway 20 in January 2006. Homatas was taken by paramedics to Sherman Hospital, then airlifted to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge — a Level One Trauma Center.
The lawsuit by family of the victims claims that workers at Diamond’s Gentleman’s Club started the Jeep to be driven by John Homatas and then watched him drive away, knowing that he was drunk because they ejected him from the club for vomiting in a bathroom. Diamond’s sought exclusion from the lawsuit because the all-nude club does not serve alcohol, but rather allows a bring-your-own-booze policy.
In June 2007, John Homatas, 26, of Wayne, pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving in the Jan. 4, 2006, Elgin Township head-on crash with fire that killed April Simmons, 27, her unborn child, and Homatas’ friend and passenger, John Chiariello. Police report Homatas was drunk and had marijuana and cocaine in his system.
After a two-week trial, jurors deliberated less than two hours to convict Homatas with reckless homicide and aggravated drunken driving. In defense of Homatas, attorney Gary Johnson claimed that Chiariello drove Homatas’ Jeep that night. First Assistant State’s Attorney Clint Hull reminded jurors of a testimony of Mike Walker, a Good Samaritan, that pulled Homatas and Chiareiello from the Jeep after seeing Homatas in the driver’s seat with his hands on the steering wheel. An expert witness also testified that in a head-on crash of this type, the driver and passenger would not be displaced from their seats. Homatas was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
April Simmons was coming home from work driving a Chevy Tahoe southbound in the southbound lane on Illinois Highway 25 between Kenyon Road and U.S. Highway 20 when it collided head-on with the northbound Jeep driven by Homatas. Witnesses reported Homatas had passed at least two northbound cars on the two-lane road, leaving his lane to pass on a stretch of the roadway where passing is allowed.
Homatas also had a past history of speeding arrests. Homatas pleaded guilty to speeding eight times since 1998: once in 1998; two times in 1999; two times in 2000; once in 2002 and twice in 2003. He also pleaded guilty to running a red light in Rolling Meadows in 2002. In six of the speeding cases, he was charged with driving almost 20 miles over the speed limit. Homatas received court supervision, which kept the tickets off his permanent record. Because Homatas was under 21 during his charges in 1998 and 1999, which occurred within a two year time period, his license was suspended for three months.
Keyword: Ari Pomerantz, Diamond’s owner.