The FBI and U.S. Marshals arrested a man in Poland who had been wanted since 1995 in a drunk driving crash that killed a man in Lake Forest.
The Lake Forest Police Department said that Marek Josko, who was 42 years old at the time, was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of Route 41 just north of Deerpath Road on December 9, 1995.
Josko crashed head-on into a vehicle. The impact of the crash caused a third vehicle, driven by Dennis Bourassa, to become involved in the crash, according to Lake Forest Deputy Police Chief Rob Copeland.
Bourassa suffered serious head injuries and died as a result. Josko admitted to police that he was the driver of his vehicle and that he had been driving from Waukegan to Chicago.
The man admitted to drinking alcohol earlier that night and officers smelled an odor of alcohol on his breath, Copeland said. Officers reported Josko appeared disoriented and demonstrated signs of alcohol impairment.
He was transported to Lake Forest Hospital and staff took a blood sample from him. The blood sample was tested and revealed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.19, which was over the legal limit of 0.10 in 1995.
Josko was initially charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and released after posting bail. Police continued to investigate the cause of the crash to determine if Josko’s actions led to the death of Bourassa, Copeland said.
A Lake County judge signed a warrant on December 18, 1995 for the arrest of Josko on charges of reckless homicide.
Josko fled prosecution by boarding a plane from Chicago to Warsaw, Poland the day after the arrest warrant had been issued, Copeland said.
“Josko has never been apprehended pursuant to this Warrant, nor has he appeared voluntarily in any court to be arraigned until now. Police were unable to locate Josko in Poland and the case became a cold case until 2013,” Copeland said.
Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, who was going through closed cold cases, contacted Lake Forest Police Detective Mark Senger in 2014 and requested him to follow up on the Josko case.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office asked for federal agencies to assist the Lake Forest Police Department in locating and extraditing Josko to the United States for trial.
“The US Embassy in Poland and the FBI vigilantly worked for several years to locate Josko in Poland in order to arrest him and have him extradited back to the US to stand trial,” Copeland said.
Josko was located and arrested in February 2020 by Municipal Police in Przemysl, Poland and held pending an extradition hearing in Poland.
“Detective Senger has spent the last six years keeping in contact with the victim’s widow and family as well as officers who worked the case in 1995 in an effort to keep the case alive for them,” Copeland said.
“Detective Senger spent countless hours working with numerous local, state, federal and international law enforcement agencies in an effort to locate Josko and bring him to justice,” he added.
Josko’s extradition was held up due to COVID-19 until June 25 when the U.S. Marshals Service took custody of Josko. He was transported from Poland to Midway Airport.
The Lake County Sheriff’s Office Warrant Unit took custody of the man and transported him to the Lake County Jail.
Josko appeared in bond court before Judge Elizabeth Rochford and his bond was set at $1 million. He is scheduled to appear in court again on July 21.
“A special thanks should be given to Lake County State’s Attorney Mike Nerheim and his staff, FBI Special Agent Mike Malsch, FBI Special Agent Monte Keiper, the Department of Justice, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of State, the US Marshalls Service, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Detective Mark Senger and generations of Lake Forest Officers who didn’t give up on bringing Marek Josko to justice,” the Lake Forest Police Department said in a statement.