December 8, 2023

A pretrial hearing date is set for three Park Ridge teens who were charged with felonies in the alleged theft of tens of thousands of dollars worth of concert wristbands in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, according to the Kenosha County Circuit Court Clerk’s office. A criminal complaint in the case describes the stolen property as admission wristbands for a country music festival called Country Thunder.

According to Kenosha County court records, Thomas Bernatek, Amelia Miulli and Morgan Timmons, all 18, were each charged with a class G felony in July. All three teens are 2023 Maine South High School graduates.

Three Wisconsin lawyers are representing the three teens. At a Sept. 12 pretrial hearing, called a judicial pretrial in Wisconsin, court records show that the district attorney asked for an adjournment to gather more information on the possibility of the defendents paying restitution to Country Thunder. A second pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 19.

Kenosha County Deputy District Attorney Carli McNeill told Pioneer Press/Chicago Tribune via email that in Wisconsin, the “pretrial is more about updating the judge on the status of the case,” and that any discussion of a plea offer happens before it takes place, between the district attorney and defense attorney.

McNeill said the District Attorney is “reviewing discovery, working on the restitution issue, and seeing if the cases will be resolved with a plea agreement.”

“As this is a theft case, the victim (Country Thunder) has a right to restitution for their monetary loss,” McNeill said. “Usually the victim provides documentation or an explanation to show the amount of the loss and that is typically something the state and the defense attorneys review before deciding how to proceed on a case.”

McNeill said restitution is “really just compensating the victim for monetary losses as a result of the crime. It can include a lot of things as long as the costs arise due to the crime.”

When it comes to penalties that the teens might face, McNeill said, “Sentencing is always up to the discretion of the judge.”

If the district attorney and defense lawyers can’t reach an agreement, the case will head to trial, said McNeill. She added that it is typical for a case to have multiple pretrials to work out details, or because new evidence might arise.

Bernatek’s lawyer, Patrick Cafferty, said he had no comment on the case. The other attorneys also did not respond to requests for comment.

The case dates from July 25, when, according to a criminal complaint from Kenosha County Court Clerk’s office, the site manager for the country music festival reported a burglary July 23, and told responding Kenosha County Sheriff’s deputies that the festival’s will call booth had been tampered with after it had closed the previous night. According to the complaint, at least $50,000 worth of wristbands providing admission to the festival were missing.

Upon checking the internet, according to the complaint, the site manager found that a male, later identified as Bernatek, had posted some wristbands for sale. The complaint states that a detective, posing as a ticket buyer, messaged Bernatek on social media and arranged to meet the teen at the festival site. Officers detained Bernatek once they confirmed he had wristbands, the complaint stated.

A sheriff’s department investigation found, per the complaint, that Bernatek and Miulli communicated via text about the wristbands and selling them, but Miulli later denied knowledge of plans to sell the wristbands.

Class G felonies carry a penalty of up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $25,000, or both, according to criminal complaints associated with the matter.

Chicago Tribune reporter Caroline Kubzansky contributed to this story.

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