By Charles Keeshan | Daily Herald Staff
A few months back, Inhak “Tommy” Cho was doing his best to escape from behind bars.
On Wednesday the Algonquin man eagerly accepted a plea deal that could keep him locked up for more than 20 years, and was willing to spend more time in prison if his lawyer let him.
Cho, 46, was sentenced to 17 years in prison under a plea bargain in which he admitted guilt in an aggravated kidnapping charge alleging he abducted his former girlfriend two years ago and held her captive while telling her he planned to kill her.
He will serve another four years on top of that after pleading guilty Wednesday to a charge of possession of contraband in a penal institution stemming from his failed attempt to escape from the McHenry County jail in January.
Even with possible time off for good behavior while in prison, with the 21 years added on Wednesday to the six he already is serving in a separate case, Cho likely will not be eligible for parole for almost 20 years.
It could have been worse for Cho if not for his attorney’s insistence he strike a plea deal and abandon plans to enter a “blind” plea that would have left him facing a sentence as long as 45 years in prison.
“I never thought I’d see the day I was advising someone to take 17 years in prison,” defense attorney George Kililis said. “But that is what my advice had to be because he insisted on pleading guilty.”
The kidnapping charge stemmed from an April 16, 2006 incident in which, authorities said, Cho waited outside his ex-girlfriend’s home in Carpentersville and jumped her when she pulled up in a minivan with the couple’s children.
“He attacked her from behind and used his hands to choke her until she became unconscious,” said Donna Kelly, assistant McHenry County State’s attorney. “When she awoke she was in the minivan and he was driving.”
After dropping off the couple’s children at his parents’ home in Des Plaines, Kelly said, Cho drove the bound victim to the Algonquin home they used to share and locked her in the garage.
“He said he was going to kill her and commit suicide because of all the legal trouble she had caused him,” Kelly said.
Before Cho had a chance to act on that threat, however, Algonquin and Carpentersville police arrived at the home and rescued the woman.
The contraband charge stemmed from the discovery of an escape plot Cho hatched in January while in the county jail awaiting trial in the kidnapping case.
Acting on a tip from another inmate, jail authorities discovered Cho had made two metal chisels from parts of a mop handle and used them to dig a hole about 18 inches wide and more than an inch deep in his cell wall. When not digging, Cho covered the hole with toothpaste, officials said