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5 Indiana men plead guilty to attacking diners at Illinois restaurant

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Saturday, January 5, 2013 - 6:19 am

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Five Indiana men accused of attacking a group of diners at a suburban Chicago restaurant were sentenced Friday to prison terms ranging from three to six years.

Attorneys for the men said their clients pleaded guilty because they wanted to put the case behind them. The men faced charges of armed violence, mob action and aggravated battery in the May 19 attack.

Investigators said the five men were wearing masks and hoods when they stormed a restaurant in Tinley Park. Prosecutors said the men are tied to an anti-racism group and attacked people allegedly tied to a white supremacist group.

A Cook County judge sentenced Jason Sutherlin, 24, to six years in prison; Cody Sutherlin, 24, and his brother Dylan Sutherlin, 20, to five-year prison terms; and John Tucker, 26, and Alex Stuck, 22, to 3 1/2 years in prison. The five men live in the Bloomington area.

Defense attorney James Fennerty said prosecutors planned to push for the maximum seven-year sentence for all five men if they went to trial.

"They want to resolve it today," Fennerty said. "They don't want this to go on any more."

The five suspects were arrested shortly after the fight when Tinley Park police pulled over a car matching the description of a vehicle that witnesses told police the alleged attackers used to flee. Prosecutors said police recovered dark hooded sweatshirts, scarves, gloves, a knife and two expandable batons.

Video of the minutes-long fight shows a table being knocked over, swinging arms and some men holding up chairs to defend themselves. Prosecutors said the fight caused $15,000 in damage and injured several people, including three who were hospitalized and received staples to their heads.

The people attacked said they belonged to the Illinois European Heritage Association, though at least two were from out of state, according to Tinley Park police.

The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist groups, has said the confrontation was another in a history of confrontations between anti-racist and white supremacist groups.

According to prosecutors, the five attackers were members of a violent anti-racist group. They and 13 other individuals entered the restaurant and went directly to where the victims were sitting and attacked them and others. No additional arrests have been made in the case.

"We have zero tolerance for this type of hateful violence, which in this case was carried out in a terrorizing attack in the midst of unsuspecting citizens eating lunch in a quiet family restaurant," Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said in a statement.

She added that she was pleased the men pleaded guilty.