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Mark Ditka’s bond increased after two court hearings

Mark Ditka

Mark Ditka

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Updated: January 20, 2013 1:16AM

After two court hearings Tuesday, Mark Ditka was released from Lake County Jail on an increased bond after he failed to provide one Lake County judge a current prescription for painkillers.

The Deerfield man, son of former Chicago Bears Coach Mike Ditka, was remanded into Lake County sheriff’s custody after his first court hearing.

Ditka, 49, was arrested for DUI in 2011. That DUI remains pending when he was then charged with a second DUI and possession of a controlled substance in October. Deerfield police said they found a bottle of dihydrocodeine, an opioid analgesic, in his vehicle Oct. 7.

He was free from custody after he posted $2,500 bond, but then he tested positive for narcotics at a random drug test Nov. 2, according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Ben Dillon.

Ditka appeared before Judge Brian Hughes first. His attorney, Robert Ritacca presented Hughes with a letter from Lake Shore Dental confirming that Ditka’s dentist had prescribed him Vicodin on Nov. 19, 2011 and Dec. 2, 2010.

Ditka had appeared before Hughes last Friday for arraignment on felony charges. That was when his positive test for the controlled substance during a standard pre-trial screening was disclosed. At that time, Ditka could not immediately provide a prescription for the narcotic found in his system, with Hughes giving him until Tuesday to come up one.

When all he could produce was the letter from his dentist and no prescription from 2012, Hughes increased Ditka’s bond to $50,000.

“My concern is he tested positive. Pre-trial tried numerous times to get him to verify his prescription and he didn’t,” Hughes said.

Ritacca said his client had already posted $2,500 and could not afford to post such a high bond. After Hughes refused to lower the bond, Ritacca asked that the case get assigned to a new judge. Circuit Judge John Phillips was randomly selected.

Ditka was then taken into custody and all parties appeared before Phillips for the second hearing.

Ditka pleaded not guilty to aggravated DUI and unlawful possession of a controlled substance charges before Phillips. He could face one to three years in prison or a period of probation for those charges, Phillips said.

Ritacca asked Phillips to revisit the bond issue.

“He has no criminal history. He’s reputable in his standing in his community. He posted $2,500,” Ritacca said.

His client works from 11 a.m. to 2 or 3 a.m. as the manager for a restaurant in Chicago. Ditka has a residence in Chicago and Deerfield.

Dillon asked that the bond amount remain at $50,000, but Phillips reduced Ditka’s bond to $30,000.

Except for work and court hearings, Ditka is to abide by a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew. He is not allowed to use alcohol or drugs.

“No drugs whatsoever ... one-year-old Vicodin is not permitted. You better not have any possession of medication unless it’s a current prescription,” Phillips warned. By current, he meant November of this year, he clarified.

Ditka bonded out on his increased bond amount about two hours after it was lowered to $30,000.

He is due back in court Dec. 4.

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