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‘What AJ suffered was a corner of hell’: state’s attorney discusses plea deal given to father of AJ Freund

State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally gives a press conference following Andrew Freund’s guilty plea on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Woodstock. | Photo: Matthew Apgar/Northwest Herald.

McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally said what AJ Freund suffered leading up to his murder “was a corner of hell” as he discussed the plea deal accepted by the boy’s father on Friday.

Kenneally held a press conference Friday evening following the guilty plea of Andrew Freund Sr., who was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Freund pleaded guilty to aggravated battery to a child, a Class X felony, involuntary manslaughter, a Class 3 felony, and concealing a homicidal death, a Class 3 felony.

He will serve 11 years on the first charge, 14 years on the second charge, and 5 years on the third charge, according to McHenry County Judge Robert Wilbrandt.

Andrew Freund appears for a status hearing with Judge Robert Wilbrandt on Wednesday, September 16, 2020, at the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock. | Photo: Stacey Wescott/pool/Chicago Tribune.

Kenneally said that Freund was not directly involved in causing the injuries that led to AJ’s death or prior abuse, and that it was JoAnn Cunningham — the boy’s mother — who inflicted those injuries.

“Without the defendent’s [Freund] ultimate cooperation with law enforcement in this case, we may never have found AJ’s body or had enough evidence to bring charges in this case,” Kenneally said.

Kenneally also noted that since Freund is 63 years old, he will be spending the majority or all of his life in prison.

As part of the plea deal, Freund agreed to be interviewed by the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit and work with an ongoing investigation into DCFS, Wilbrandt said.

File Photo | Andrew Freund (undated photo).

“He’s provided us with helpful information,” Kenneally said regarding Freund assisting with the investigation of Carlos Acosta and Andrew Polovin, who are two former DCFS workers charged for mishandling AJ’s abuse allegations prior to his death.

“These types of crimes, they take place in a hellscape. What AJ suffered was a corner of hell,” Kenneally said.

Freund will receive day for day credit for the time he has already served in the McHenry County jail.

On July 17, Wilbrandt sentenced AJ Freund’s mother, JoAnn Cunningham, to 35 years in prison for first-degree murder.

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JoAnn Cunningham, 37, of Crystal Lake. | Photo: Illinois Department of Corrections.

Cunningham, 37, of formerly of Crystal Lake, was transferred to Logan Correctional Center in Lincoln on August 4 to serve her sentence, according to the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Records show she is expected to be released on April 24, 2054. She entered the prison with over a year of credit for time served in the McHenry County jail awaiting trial.

Cunningham will be required to serve 100% of the 35-year sentence. She will have to serve three years of mandatory supervised release after being released from prison.

Cunningham pleaded guilty in December to first-degree murder and faced between 20 and 60 years in prison.

Carlos J. Acosta, 54, of Woodstock, (left) and Andrew R. Polovin, 48, of Island Lake (right).

Two former DCFS caseworkers, Carlos J. Acosta, 54, of Woodstock, and Andrew R. Polovin, 48, of Island Lake, were arrested on September 10 for their mishandling of AJ Freund’s abuse investigations.

Acosta and Polovin were charged with two felony counts of endangering the life of a child and one felony count of reckless conduct, according to the sheriff’s office.

Both men were taken into custody without incident and transported to the McHenry County jail on September 10.

According to a bill of indictment, a grand jury charged Acosta for “not acting in good faith within his official capacity as a DCFS Child Protection Specialist and in a willful and wanton manner, knowingly caused or permitted the life or health of A.F., a minor child under the age of 18, to be endangered and said offense was a proximate cause of the death of A.F.”

The grand jury also charged Polovin for “not acting in good faith within his official capacity as a DCFS Child Protection Supervisor and in a willful and wanton manner, knowingly caused or permitted the life or health of A.F., a minor child under the age of 18, to be endangered and said offense was a proximate cause of the death of A.F.”


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