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Joliet Reporter Jailed Without Bond on Fed Child Porn Charge

Community newspaper reporter John Gabriel appeared in federal court but was returned to custody without a bond.

John Gabriel
John Gabriel
By Joseph Hosey

Veteran weekly newspaperman John Gabriel was returned to federal custody to be held without bond following a court appearance Wednesday morning.

Gabriel, 77, can renew a motion for bond at a later date, said U.S. Attorney spokesman Randall Samborn.

Gabriel was arrested by FBI agents at his Joliet home Sept. 12. He has been in custody since.

Gabriel "enticed" a girl "to engage in sexually explicit conduct" so he could "produce a visual depiction" of it, according to an indictment unsealed after his arrest.

Gabriel also "destroyed, mutilated, and concealed" a desktop computer, the indictment said.

Gabriel allegedly destroyed the computer "when FBI agents executed a search warrant (at) his residence on Aug. 14, 2012," according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Gabriel manufactured the child pornography in July 2012, the statement said.

About the same time Gabriel was allegedly manufacturing child pornography, his live-in lover, 33-year-old Margarita Hernandez, was setting up and indulging in a sex date with a teenage boy, police said.

The youth is a friend of the son of one of Hernandez's cousins, officials said. Gabriel was home with Hernandez at the time of the alleged sex date, police said.

Hernandez's case remains pending in Will County court. She is free on bond.

In the wake of Hernandez's arrest, Gabriel defended his girlfriend against the allegations and said she was merely a pawn targeted by the many enemies he made during his career as a community newspaper reporter.

"This thing with Margarita is nothing more than an adventure in hate," Gabriel said at the time.

"This is all a setup," he said, noting that the frame job was easy to spot, "If you remember how some of the people reacted when I went after some of the crooked policemen and crooked politicians."

Gabriel's attorney, federal defender MiAngel Cody, also represented another Joliet resident recently tried in federal court for a high-profile crime. Cody had the case of white supremacist Brian Moudry, who in June was sentenced to 10 years in prison for torching the home of a black family.

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