Holly Hart/The News-Gazette  Scene of a shooting that occurred at approximately 12:38 a.m. in the 300 block of East Green Street, Sunday, September 25, 2016. Resulting in one death and three wounded.
Holly Hart/The News-Gazette<br />Scene of a shooting that occurred at approximately 12:38 a.m. in the 300 block of East Green Street, Sunday, September 25, 2016. Resulting in one death and three wounded.

Dear Judge Thomas J. Difanis:

You've been a judge a long time.  You've served for over twenty years and risen to your position as presiding judge of this district.  

You make decisions on many days that have life-changing implications for defendants.  Those decisions also have implications for productive, law-abiding members of our community as well.  Primarily, you – in your role – protect us good people from people who have become monsters for whatever reason or those who can't conduct themselves in a socially acceptable manner.  I and other Illinois' concealed carry licensees do much the same everyday, protecting those in our immediate personal space as well. 

If there's one case you need to take with you to your dying day, that would be the case involving Robbie Patton.  He's more commonly known to many of us as the "Steak 'n Shake Shooter"He had an altercation inside the Steak 'n Shake restaurant on North Prospect Avenue in Champaign at 5:30pm on a Monday evening in 2015.  One of his friends had been "disrespected", so little Robbie pulled a gun and tried to kill those men he thought responsible.  Thankfully, his aim sucked and nobody got hurt.  He fled the scene, and then fled an Illinois State Trooper in hot pursuit.   He crashed his stolen ride, then escaped on foot.

Obviously, any 18-year old punk without a FOID card, carrying around a loaded handgun isn't a "good guy".  Even more, by discharging that firearm at other people with the intent to kill them (or with a reasonable expectation that would happen), he isn't a "misguided kid".  He ran from police – in a stolen vehicle – risking lives trying to elude a lawful capture.  He crashed  during the chase, risking still more lives.  These are not minor mistakes or errors in judgement.  Robbie Patton is a monster that needs to be locked up to protect us.

But you, against the recommendation of our already soft-on-crime local State's Attorney's office, recommended Mr. Patton get a slap on the wrist.  You sent him to "Boot camp".  Judge Difanis:  Running, doing some calesthenics and learning to say "yessir" might work for minor transgressions and lapses of judgement, but we're talking an 18-year-old hoodlum who made several lifetimes of horrific, innocent life-threatening decisions in the span of ten minutes.  He illegally carried a loaded gun around and tried to kill someone who "disrespected" his friend.  It could have been me or my family that acted as a backstop for this evil man's bullets.  It could have been your son, the successful real estate agent, or his wife – or maybe his child – your grandchild.  It might have been your wife or daughter (I seem to recall you have a daughter, but maybe I'm mistaken) or other family members killed or maimed during that police chase.  Or mine.

You sentenced this asocial monster to boot camp and you knew, unless he made colossal mistakes, he would be back out on our streets in a matter of months, not years.

And sure enough, after serving 8 months and change in prison on an 8-year sentence, Robbie Patton, the "Steak 'n Shake Shooter" was released.

He wasn't out two days when he got arrested again, mixed up with drugs and who knows what else.

Not even two weeks later, he's illegally got a gun.  He gets "dissed" again and what happens?  He starts shooting, wounding three.  Another woman gets struck by a car as she tried to flee the scene.  And George Korchev.  Remember that name, Judge Difanis.  George Korchev.  The was set to start his new job as a registered nurse at a hospital in Libertyville.

George Korchev was set to start a life as a productive citizen, helping to save lives.  He would have gotten married, had kids and raised a productive family.  George would have given his parents grandchildren.  He would have lived probably sixty more years, contributing positive energy to making our world a better place. 

You took that all away from him by giving Robbie Patton, a sociopathic predator who will never contribute anything but sewage and sadness to our society, a way to get out of prison early. 

Hopefully another judge with a better sense of right and wrong will sentence this young monster to a long and miserable lifetime in prison if Mr. Patton doesn't do us all a favor and pull his gun on a police officer or a concealed carry licensee prior to his capture.

As for you, you've lost the confidence of the community.  It's time for you to take the graceful way out and tender your retirement. Enjoy time spent with your wife and kids.  Hug your kids and grandchildren and tell them you love them every chance you get, because you never know:  Another Robbie Patton may kill one of them senslessly.

And I hope you have your CCW, because if the next Robbie Patton is about to use you as the backstop for his inability to behave appropriately, you can count on my Glock remaining holstered as I turn my back on you and walk away.

John Boch

5 thoughts on “TIME TO RETIRE: Dear Judge Tom Difanis”
  1. Remember George.  And Difanis.

    Well stated.  I hope Difanis doesn't meet the next Robbie, but if someone's gotta do it, then Ol' Thomas is a better person for it than any of my friends or loved ones.

  2. I don't live in Champaign County but I'm still very pissed.  Retirement might be too nice for this judge.  He will still get a six-figure pension.

    What was this judge thinking?  Especially after seeing shitbirds pass through his court for twenty plus years!  Did this one have a fancy, three-piece suit or something?  He didn't have a decent upbringing (I'd just about bet his daddy was nowhere to be found…  like in prison…).  Can you put up WANTED:  DEAD posters around town?

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