Chicago Transit Rider Placed in Diversion Program For Using Cellphone Jammer

CHICAGO (Chicago Tribune/TNS) -

A Chicago commuter who illegally used a cellphone jammer on a transit train to keep his rides quieter was placed in a diversion program Thursday that could allow him to avoid a conviction.

An attorney for Dennis Nicholl, 63, who made national headlines after his arrest, said the arrangement requires his client to attend counseling sessions.

Cook County prosecutors said in court that if Nicholl completes all the requirements of the diversion program they will dismiss the misdemeanor charge against him on his next court date in late June.

Prosecutors originally charged Nicholl with felony unlawful interference with a public utility but later reduced the charge to a misdemeanor count of tampering with communication services.

Nicholl’s attorney Charles Lauer said prosecutors discovered the original charge didn’t apply since cellphone towers are not a public utility. When they charged Nicholl under a state statute that deals with public airwaves, the circumstances rose only to the level of a misdemeanor, Lauer said.

Lauer has previously said Nicholl, a certified public accountant, wanted only some peace and quiet on his commute from his North Side home to the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System, where officials confirmed he works as a financial analyst.

“He’s disturbed by people talking around him,” Lauer said after a judge set bail at $10,000 earlier this month while dubbing Nicholl “the cellphone police.” “He might have been selfish in thinking about himself, but he didn’t have any malicious intent.”