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Former McHenry man sentenced to supervision for child endangerment

Michael Picard Jr., 30, of Burlington, Wisconsin
Michael Picard Jr., 30, of Burlington, Wisconsin

A 30-year-old man was found guilty Thursday of endangering his young children by passing out intoxicated while his kids were asleep in a "dilapidated" house.

McHenry County Judge Tiffany Davis announced the verdict Thursday and sentenced Michael J. Picard Jr. to two years of court supervision. The former McHenry man also must pay two $75 fines for each count of child endangerment and will be subject to random drug and alcohol testing, the judge ordered.

Picard nearly entered a plea deal Tuesday that would have assured him a sentence of court supervision. Just before the negotiation was finalized, however, Picard told the judge his children's lives were not in danger and asked to proceed with a trial by judge.

"I do believe there was wrongdoing in staying at the house, but I do not believe it warrants jail time, especially since it would mean losing my job, which is the main support for my family," Picard said before receiving his sentence Thursday.

Throughout the two-day trial, McHenry County Assistant State's Attorney Ken Hudson showed photographs of Picard's former McHenry home, which police described as being in "deplorable condition." City officials later deemed the home uninhabitable unless repairs were made, and Picard's family has since moved to Burlington, Wisconsin, he said.

Photographs taken by the McHenry Police Department showed a caved-in ceiling, exposed and wet insulation strewn about one of the children's bedrooms and no food in the cabinets or the family's broken refrigerator.

Hudson asked the judge to sentence Picard to jail, but a dated and limited criminal history, as well as an evaluation indicating Picard wasn't likely to re-offend, earned him a similar sentence to the one he would have received if he had accepted the plea deal.

The charges stemmed from a June 18, 2018, report of a woman passed out in a ditch in McHenry. The woman, who turned out to be Picard's wife, Nicole Vaxmonsky, told officials she lived nearby in the 2000 block of Central Street and had two young children.

Police went to the house to perform a well-being check and knocked for more than 30 seconds before opening the unlocked door. Inside, they found Picard seemingly dead on the floor with vomit on his shirt, police said.

The only other adults in the house were passed out drunk in a child's bedroom, police testified. Picard's 14-year-old niece also had been staying at the house with her 18-year-old boyfriend.

Picard denied drinking more than a few sips from a shot glass the night before, but did take what the judge called a "a dangerous cocktail mix of prescription pills."

"He was basically popping benzos and painkillers," Davis said.

Picard has since completed a rehab program, his attorney, Special Public Defender William Bligh said.

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