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Local News

Photographer pleads guilty to disorderly conduct in Joliet trespassing case

Working on art gallery

Michael J. Vanko, 23, Addison
Michael J. Vanko, 23, Addison

An Addison photographer arrested by Joliet police on a burglary charge pleaded guilty to a lesser charge – disorderly conduct.

Officers arrested Michael J. Vanko, 23, on May 6 after a witness with binoculars spotted him entering a dilapidated property at 512 Scott St. in Joliet, according to police reports.

Vanko told the officers he was taking photographs for school and that he is a College of DuPage student, the police report said. The officers arrested Vanko on probable cause for burglary and possession of burglary tools and he was taken to the Will County Jail.

The Will County State’s Attorney later only charged him with criminal trespass to a building. Vanko planned to go to trial over that charge Nov. 6, but he instead pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, a low-level misdemeanor. Vanko and his attorney John Sanchez declined to answer questions about the case.

“It’s a long six months, but I’m glad everything is finally over,” said Vanko, who added he’s working on putting together an art gallery show in Lockport.

Will County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Carole Cheney said Vanko’s plea of guilty to disorderly conduct was the “appropriate disposition for this matter” based on the “facts and circumstances of the case,” his lack of criminal history and his agreement to court supervision.

Vanko was given a year of court supervision and ordered to pay $500 in fines and fees as part of his sentence, according to court records.

Vanko is a photographer who has shown his videos and photos at the Addison Center for the Arts. He once had a display at the center called “Decaying History.”

Vanko’s friend Max Power, who runs a YouTube channel called “Strange Places,” said Vanko was in Joliet to take photos of an abandoned house at the time he was arrested. Vanko said he has been taking photos of abandoned buildings for years. He said he went to the house in Joliet to take photos to add to his portfolio.

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