A man accused of robbing a Morton hotel and forcing a Morton police officer off Interstate 74 during a morning rush hour chase has been indicted by a Tazewell County grand jury.
Royal D. Gort, 48, of 659 S. River St. in Aurora, is charged with burglary, theft, aggravated fleeing or attempting to elude a peace officer, aggravated assault and criminal damage to state-supported property.
The most serious charges are burglary and criminal damage to state-supported property. Each is punishable by three to seven years in prison.
Gort pleaded not guilty Thursday and will return to court June 20. He’s jailed on $75,000 bond.
Morton police were called to the Quality Inn, 115 E. Ashland St., at about 6:50 a.m. April 28. A hotel employee said she saw a man steal money from the front desk cash register — later determined to be $132 — and drive away in a maroon Volkswagen.
The employee told police she left the front desk briefly to check a circuit breaker after the man said the coffee machine in the hotel’s breakfast area wasn’t working.
An officer spotted the suspect’s vehicle in a nearby parking lot at 95 Commerce Drive parked between a dumpster and trailer, took out his service weapon, and ordered the suspect to turn off the vehicle and step out.
The suspect drove away and was spotted by another Morton officer on Hickory Ridge Drive. The officer blocked the road with his squad car but the suspect drove around it and went onto westbound I-74 with the officer in pursuit.
The officer said the suspect’s erratic driving in heavy traffic on the freeway caused several drivers to take evasive action before the officer caught up with the suspect and pulled alongside him in the left lane.
The suspect swerved to his left, the officer said, hit the officer’s car and forced the officer off the road past the Pinecrest Road overpass in East Peoria. The officer struck a mile marker and exit sign, causing more than $15,000 in damage to his vehicle, and the suspect continued to flee.
U.S. marshals found Gort in Peoria five days after the burglary and chase and he was arrested. His vehicle helped authorities find him. Gort was convicted of retail theft in Peoria last year and he fled from that theft in a maroon Volkswagen.
Also indicted May 19 were:
* Madison N. Beever, 20, 4208 Sheridan Road, Pekin; aggravated battery and unlawful delivery of a controlled substance.
* Daniel A. Brackney, 33, 203 Belsley St., South Pekin; unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.
* James M. Burge, 32, homeless; retail theft.
* Dustin M. Burris, 34, 7793 Springfield Road, Delavan; aggravated driving under the influence.
* Richard L. Denham, 30, 202 Cooper St., Pekin; aggravated driving under the influence.
* Amanda R. Eller, 33, 706 N. Madison St., Lincoln; burglary and retail theft.
* Enoch Figgures, 46, 1025 NE Jefferson Ave., Apt. C, Peoria; burglary and theft.
* Jack H. Fuller, 47, 1528 W. Ann St., Peoria; driving with a revoked or suspended license.
* Khalid A. Hamdan, 49, 8114 Concord Lane, Justice; unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
* Suzanne M. Hammad, 29, 846 Woodewind Drive, Naperville; unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
* Lori A. Koehl, 55, 150 Paris Lane, Washington; aggravated driving under the influence.
* Stephanie L. Martin, 26, 300 Fourth St., South Pekin; unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.
* Robert W. Meyer, 63, 1422 E. Resthaven Road, Peoria; criminal damage to property.
* Brandon S. Morse, 23, 706 N. Madison St., Lincoln; burglary and retail theft.
* Jesse L. Pfanz, 26, 2841 Allentown Road, Pekin; predatory criminal sexual assault of a child and two counts of sexual exploitation of a child.
* Jennifer M. Raines-Allen, 38, 1000 S. Tonti Court, Peoria; retail theft.
* Richard L. Rollyson, 44, 425 Herman St., Pekin; theft.
* Ryan R. Schuck, 18, 180 Sapp St., Pekin; unlawful possession of a methamphetamine precursor and forgery.
* Thomas E. Solomon, 26, 505 Chicago St., East Peoria; retail theft.
* Gregory A. Smith, 37, homeless; retail theft.
* Michael A. Trumpy, 32, 1521 Sara Lane, Apt. 6, Pekin; unlawful participation in methamphetamine manufacturing.
* Sherman E. Worrick, 24, 5901 W. Deluxe Blvd., Bellevue; two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.
* Alison E. Young, 34, 301 Glendale St., Apt. 105, Creve Coeur; unlawful possession of methamphetamine.