Arrest warrant and unanswered questions plague Bennington County Democrat

With a warrant out for his arrest and a need to comply with a 2012 Illinois court order related to a DUI, Vermont state Rep. Chris Bates appears to be in bigger legal trouble than he has been willing to admit publicly.

Bates, a Democrat elected in November to a Bennington 2-1 House seat, has been dodging his personal past as an alleged fugitive for months.

He moved to Vermont from Illinois in 2012, leaving behind an out-of-state criminal record of self-described youthful “indiscretions.” Alleged incidents listed in Illinois court records include resisting arrest, battery, assault with a loaded shotgun, drunk driving and failure to appear in court.

Bates’ record also includes a failure to pay fines, court costs and fees after being found guilty in 2012 for committing a Class 4 felony aggravated DUI. He apparently failed to go through an alcohol treatment program as ordered by an Illinois county court, the 22nd Judicial Circuit of McHenry County.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Hoyt

Assault rifle: Vermont Rep. Chris Bates (D) has supported gun-control efforts in Montpelier while he remains an avid gun enthusiast. The photo was taken five days after Bates was ordered by an Illinois court not to possess firearms.

The Bennington Democrat, who has appeared on radio and television as an outdoor expert, may also have violated an order by the state of Illinois which said he must not have guns.

While Bates told TNR last month that he no longer uses a gun to hunt and prefers to fish instead, the Illinois court order detailing his conditional discharge in 2012 prohibits him from possessing any firearms.

The sentencing order, signed by Bates on April 12, 2012, says “the defendant shall refrain from possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon.”

However, a photograph sent to True North Reports shows Bates holding a so-called assault rifle on April 17, 2012, just five days later.

He agreed to appear in court on Oct. 15, 2013, but when he missed the appearance a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Despite another statement in the conditional discharge that says “the defendant shall not leave the State of Illinois temporarily or permanently without the consent of the Court of the permission of the Adult Probation Division,” Bates moved to Vermont in 2012.

TNR contacted Bates last month for comments regarding these and other apparent violations of his conditional discharge. The legislator said he was busy filming an outdoor sports program but would respond at a later time.

Court Clerk Katherine Keefe of McHenry County, Illinois, offered True North few details about Bates’ missed court appearance and the subsequent arrest warrant issued in 2013.

“We would not know why Mr. Bates missed his scheduled court appearance on Oct. 15, 2013,” Keefe told TNR.

Keefe also did not indicate what action the Illinois court would take knowing that Bates moved out of state and is currently holding an elective office in Vermont.

Wikipedia public domain photo

McHenry County Court in Illinois

However, Bates’ signature on the conditional discharge indicates he knew of his legal obligation to stay in Illinois and appear in court 18 months later. The Vermont lawmaker is likely to be arrested if he returns to the state or is extradited.

Police Chief Paul Doucette told Seven Days an out-of-state arrest warrant is not enforceable in Vermont “unless extradition is approved.”

According to Illinois law, extradition is “the process by which … (a) state can demand that you return for trial if you fled from justice after you were charged with treason, felony or some other crime.”

However, as with some politically charged laws in today’s legal environment, what the law says and what actually happens may be two entirely different matters.

Maxwell Taylor, a Brandon, Vermont-based attorney, has noted that law enforcement has its own set of priorities, and extradition can never be a sure thing.

“Extradition costs money,” he cautions in an online forum addressing a general process question. “If you were in charge of law enforcement, how much money would you spend to bring someone from another state … to face a disorderly conduct charge? Of course, if you were convicted of the misdemeanor, and you fled, you may face additional charges.”

According to Illinois attorney-at-law Sami Azhari, “There are two types of contempt of court recognized under Illinois law. First, a person can be guilty of civil contempt. And second, a person can be guilty of criminal contempt. … [In] Illinois, the court has the authority to sentence those people to imprisonment.”

Bates’ conditional discharge states that a failure to show up in court might result in arrest among other possible steps.

“Typically that is part of the conditions of bail,” Keefe told TNR.

Keefe also told TNR that there’s no indication Bates ever fulfilled the requirements under his conditions of bail — notably, that he was ordered by a judge to get treatment for alcoholism following his 2012 conviction on aggravated DUI.

“It’s not something we can say for sure, but we do not show any completion document filed for completion of any treatment program, so he has not yet notified the Court of his treatment completion status,” Keefe added.

Kevin Hoyt, a Bennington resident who ran for state representative against Bates in 2018, says had voters known about the Democrat’s “rap sheet,” he would never have been elected.

A long list of Bates’ various charges and related incidents run from 1979 to 2012. Court records show Bates had serious run-ins with law enforcement that were established before he relocated to the Green Mountain State:

July 28, 1979: Bates charged with battery in Rolling Meadows, Illinois; Bates’ sister drops the charges

Jan. 29, 1983: Bates charged with battery in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, and resisting arrest

Aug. 21, 1985: Bates, drunk, allegedly assaults wife with loaded shotgun in Elgin, Illinois

Sept. 10, 1986: Bates arrested for drunk driving in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, blows a .17 on a Breathalyzer test

Aug. 12, 1988: Bates, drunk, arrested for assaulting Elgin, Illinois, police officers

Feb. 14, 2004: Bates arrested for DUI in DeKalb, Illinois, blows a .16 on a Breathalyzer test

Sept. 21, 2008: Bates ticketed for driving without a valid license in Iowa

Oct. 16, 2008: Bates ticketed for driving without a valid license in Iowa

Jan. 27, 2009: Bates ticketed for driving with revoked license in Iowa

Jan. 18, 2010: Bates arrested in Bettendorf, Iowa, for failure to appear ($727.70 in fines)

May 29, 2010: Bates arrested for aggravated DUI in Lakemoor Illinois, refuses to take DUI test

April 12, 2012: In Illinois, Bates signs felony conditional discharge order for May 29, 2010, DUI

TNR has not received a response from Bates as of the time of publication.

Lou Varricchio is a freelance reporter for True North Reports. Send him news tips at

Images courtesy of state of Vermont, Photo courtesy of Kevin Hoyt and Wikimedia Commons/Carl Daniel

16 thoughts on “Arrest warrant and unanswered questions plague Bennington County Democrat

  1. I would like to see the response of the ATF in regards to the alleged possession of a firearm as a felon. I would also like to see an unbiased legislature address this, but that’s got zero chance in Bernieville.

  2. I think Marthage should issue a statement declaring her office’s position on prosecuting ALL such crimes as Bates is accused of and even on video committing the alleged offense. I think the people of Vermont deserve to know if a DA is doing a special favor for this politician, or if she is no longer going to prosecute such crimes against any citizen.

    I would also like DA JJ to cite the legal precedent by which he has now become the legal representative of this man, while not recusing himself from his duty to all the rest of Vermont citizens.

    • “I would also like DA JJ to cite the legal precedent”
      I think it’s the same one Comey used to protect the criminal clinton hag.
      little JJ just emulating the big boys between suing Pres Trump for
      everything…Criminals shouldn’t be making Laws that effect VTer’s.. period…

  3. I once called him a liar in a facebook discussion where he would not answer questions directly. He then called the school board chair to complain about being called a liar. — Now we see what he really is.

    And people wonder why Bennington is a dying town.

  4. Chapter II, Section 14 of the Vermont Constitution (Powers of the House):

    The Representatives so chosen … may expel members, but not for causes known to their constituents antecedent to their election.

    There’s a solution, but I sincerely doubt the majority in the House are interested in doing the right thing, as outlined in our Constitution.

  5. Now, this my kind of guy. Great example of the level of stupidity of voters in Vermont. No wonder Montpelier is a real mess.

  6. Bates sounds like a typical DemocRAT and living in Bennington with those transplant
    Liberals, so he had a few infractions with the law, they’ll Just turn a blind eye !!

    If he was a Conservative, the left would be up in arms !!

  7. Flatlander lying criminal the 3 most important attributes for a leftist demontwit. Now you see why the want to “expunge”
    criminal records, mostly their own…Ethan and Ira should
    have put a clause in the constitution where in citizens could
    remove these elements from VT.

  8. Thank you Bennington for bringing a felon to the Vermont legislature, nice job! Vermont continues it’s decline into the sewer. Is anyone in the Vermont legislature from Vermont? Perhaps we should start looking at the past accomplishments of the rest of our carpetbaggers. This is more than disgusting.

  9. I’ve recently moved to Montpelier from Port Richey Florida where the Mayor, a known drug-user was arrested and charged with numerous counts of attempted murder on law enforcement officers for firing his stolen guns at police who were serving an arrest warrant on him for practicing medicine without a license. Recently after that, a City Council member was also arrested for attempting to tamper with a witness and obstruction of justice for conspiring with the Mayor on a taped jail house phone conversation. Rep. Bates should head to Florida, his rap sheet ain’t nothing! Look out Vermont; you do not want the criminals running your state like Florida!

  10. So this yahoo is a recidivist, outlaw and worse. So, isn’t he in the perfect state? If he were a Republican, he would be out of there so fast it would make his head spin, but a Bernita…oh, ok, hang I. There boy!

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