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Mexican-American citizen says sheriff's office illegally detained him

WOODSTOCK - A 32-year-old Harvard man is suing the sheriff’s office claiming he was improperly detained for immigration after telling a corrections officer he was born in Mexico.

Edward Bustos should have been able to post $100 bail after he was charged in November 2008 with a headlight violation and misdemeanor driving on a revoked license, his attorney Adele Nicholas said. Instead, he spent the night in McHenry County Jail despite his brother showing corrections officers his naturalization paperwork, Nicholas said.

“It appears that the next morning they realized this was a really big screw up and they realized he was a citizen - and a good one at that,” Nicholas said.

Undersheriff Andy Zinke declined to comment late Tuesday afternoon, because he had not seen a copy of the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court Tuesday.

Bustos became a U.S. citizen on April 27, 2004, after being honorably discharged from the Army, Nicholas said.

In November 2008, he did not realize his Texas driver’s license had been revoked because of speeding tickets he received in Illinois, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday. A sheriff’s deputy pulled him over for the headlight violation and arrested him for driving on a revoked license, according to the lawsuit.

Booking officers asked Bustos whether he was born outside the country and whether he was “legal” about 8 p.m. Nov. 9, 2008, according to the lawsuit. He replied that he was a U.S. citizen who had been born in Mexico, but officers told him he would be detained on an “immigration hold” and placed him in a cell, the lawsuit states.

About an hour later, Bustos’ brother, Ivan, provided naturalization paperwork but jailers told him Edward Bustos could not bond out because of the immigration hold, the lawsuit states. He was released about 7:15 a.m. Nov. 10, 2008.

His lawsuit alleges false imprisonment, failure to intervene, and egregious abuse of power.

According to McHenry County court records, Bustos was sentenced to six months of court supervision and $345 in fines and court costs on Nov. 25, 2008, when the headlight violation was dropped. He successfully completed the court supervision, which means no conviction went on his record.

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