A former suburban Chicago cop was sentenced Monday to a year in jail and his brother’s wife to three months of home confinement for their involvement in an attack on two victims in Huntington Beach two years ago.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Richard King also ordered Arthur Edward Roman, 30, of Tinley Park, and Jessica Monique Roman, 30, of Lake Forest, to undergo an alcohol treatment program and remain sober for at least a year, and placed both defendants on three years of formal probation, which will allow Arthur Roman to avoid having to fly back and forth between his home in suburban Chicago and California to meet with a probation officer.
King said Jessica Roman’s 90 days of custody should involve electronic home confinement, but it will be up to Probation Department officials to determine whether she does time at home or in jail. She was acquitted last month of felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, but was convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery and had faced up to a year in jail.
Her brother-in-law, who had been a police officer in Oak Forest, Illinois, was convicted of felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury and misdemeanor battery and had faced a maximum of 4 1/2 years in custody for the Feb. 28, 2016, brawl.
Addressing the court, he said he wanted “to apologize to all who were involved. I am truly sorry.”
“I apologize to not only you, but your families,” he told the victims. “I deeply regret my behavior… I hope you can find it in your heart to see I’m truly contrite.”
He also apologized to his family and friends, some of whom flew to Orange County for the hearing.
“I’m sorry I let you down,” he said.
He also tearfully apologized to his 11-year-old son.
“I’m sorry that I let you down and affected you in so many ways,” he said.
His son’s mother appealed to King for mercy, detailing how involved the ex-cop is in his son’s life. She said her son and his father are “best friends.”
Multiple family members and friends also sang the praises of Jessica Roman.
King said the defendants’ behavior on the day of the attack appeared to be “out of character,” but said there had to be “consequences” for the bad behavior.
Arthur Roman’s younger brother pleaded guilty last Aug. 25 to felony assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a deadly weapon, and misdemeanor battery. Martin Mario Roman, 28, of Lake Forest, was immediately placed on three years of formal probation and ordered to participate in a program overseen by a special court for veterans. His plea deal came over the objections of prosecutors, according to court records.
The attack happened as Karam Aljarrah and Aseem Dghem were walking down Third Street in Huntington Beach about 4:15 in the afternoon. At a preliminary hearing for the three defendants, Huntington Beach police Officer Eric Esparza testified that Arthur Roman started the conflict when he insulted a “straw hat” that one of the victims was wearing as “stupid.”
But in a lawsuit filed against the Romans in February, the victims claim the fight was racially motivated. They were speaking in Arabic and they believe the defendants overheard them, according to their complaint, which alleges that one of the defendants yelled “What’s up Obama-bam?” before they attacked.
The Romans were in a red Volkswagen Jetta parked near a 24-Hour Fitness gym at the time. Deputy District Attorney Angela Hong told jurors that the victims were not immediately aware they were the target of the jeers, but “the shouting continued” and one of them replied, “Excuse me, are you talking to us?”
That apparently “aggravated” the elder Roman, who got out of the car to confront the two men, Hong said, and then “his brother Martin had to get out (of the car), and then Martin’s wife, Jessica, had to get out.”
Arthur Roman pushed one of the men, the prosecutor said.
Dghem pushed back, escalating the fight, with Jessica Roman pushing Dghem down, Hong said.
“Arthur then turned his attention to Karam, who is in a fetal position, trying to protect himself,” she said, telling jurors that a witness riding by on a bicycle heard the shouting and then saw the “Romans get out of the car, and it was on.”
Jessica Roman kicked Aljarrah twice in the head, and her husband whipped out a switchblade and stabbed Aljarrah in the buttocks twice, Hong said.
A witness took a photo of the Jetta’s license plate, allowing police to quickly catch up with the brothers about a half-mile away, Hong said. Jessica Roman got out of the car at some point after they drove off and was arrested on foot nearby.
Jessica Roman’s attorney, Stephen Miller, told jurors it was not a “whodunit” case, but claimed there were “conflicting accounts” of what happened. He said his client tried to stop the conflict, telling her husband and his brother “don’t fight” as they got out of the car.
After the three left the scene of the conflict, Jessica Roman got out of the car to call the friends they had planned to meet that day and was returning to tend to her husband, who was injured in the melee, when she was arrested, Miller said.