The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Defense Lawyer Taunts Victim of Staple Gun Attack In State House Race

By  Alisa Hauser and Erica Demarest | March 18, 2016 7:48am | Updated on March 20, 2016 10:35am

Bradley Fichter and Jessica Soto. (Chicago Police)

WEST TOWN — The daughter of state Rep. Cynthia Soto kicked her mom's opponent in his head, stapled his forehead with a staple gun, hit him in the face with a beer bottle and grabbed his groin during an attack outside the rival's campaign office in the days leading up to Tuesday's primary election, prosecutors said Friday.

Jessica Soto, 26, of the 1500 Block of West Ohio Street, and Bradley Fichter, 26, of the 4700 Block of North Kewanee Avenue, were each charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, aggravated battery causing great bodily harm and aggravated battery in a public place.

Additionally, Fichter was charged with one felony count of disorderly conduct for filing a false police report about the incident.

The alleged attack took place around 9:15 p.m. March 6 in front of Robert Zwolinski's campaign office, 823 N. Ashland Ave., authorities said.

Zwolinski pulled up to his office and saw Jessica Soto and Fichter putting up signs for Cynthia Soto nearby, prosecutors said.

When Zwolinski got out of the car to confront them, Fichter punched Zwolinski multiple times before Soto punched him once, prosecutors said. When Zwolinski fell to the ground, Fichter hopped on top of him and began choking him until Soto pounced, prosecutors said.

Zwolinski suffered a broken nose and needed six stitches to close a wound in his forehead, according to prosecutors.

Zwolinski's girlfriend witnessed the entire attack from the car, prosecutors said. At one point, Jessica Soto allegedly went up to the car with a staple gun in her hand, opened the passenger-side door and threatened the girlfriend.

Jessica Soto and Fichter then drove off, but several witnesses were able to get the license plate number of their car and report it to police.

About an hour and a half later, Fichter walked into a Chicago Police station to file a report saying Zwolinski had attacked him, prosecutors said.

After a bond hearing Friday, Jessica Soto's attorney, Frank Avila, called the charges "way exaggerated" and said "part of this is sour grapes because he [Zwolinski] lost the election."

Avila called Jessica Soto short "and a little bit chubby," and questioned how a 5-foot-2 woman could attack Zwolinski, whom Avila described as a tall, muscular rugby player.

"If he's going around saying a girl beat him up, that's really sad," Avila said. "Maybe it's good that he lost the race if he gets beat up by a little 5'2" girl that's not even strong."

Avila claims Zwolinski started the fight the began on March 6 when he ripped down Soto signs, and that Zwolinski must have some kind of clout for Jessica Soto and Fichter to be charged.

Zwolinski "should be on trial," Avila said. "He should be in jail."

Jessica Soto previously spent 3 months on court supervision after being convicted in a 2011 battery case. She'd been charged three other times with battery and once with aggravated battery but was never convicted in those cases.

In court Friday, Avila said Jessica Soto has a 19-month-old child and is a graduate of Lincoln Park High School. According to Fichter's attorney, Fichter works for a local gas company, lives with Jessica Soto and is a Lane Tech High School graduate.

Judge Maria Kuriakos Ciesil ordered Fichter and Jessica Soto held in lieu of $25,000 bail each during the Friday bond hearing in which she also lamented the sad state of politics in the country.

"I'm really sad ... by how this whole election period is going," the judge said. "It's an embarrassment to our entire country."

Avila, who previously said Jessica Soto and Fichter are boyfriend and girlfriend, confirmed before court on Friday that Jessica Soto is one of Cynthia Soto's three daughters. Avila said Jessica Soto was not the woman involved in the incident and "it will come out in court." 

After the incident, Zwolinski, who posted about being attacked on social media before calling police, put up graphic photos on Facebook showing a smashed nose and blood dripping down his face from a metal staple embedded in his forehead, just at the hairline.

"Politics is a contact sport. Apparently that's literally the case," he said on Twitter.

In Tuesday's Illinois primary election, Zwolinski, 30, lost the race for the Democratic nomination to incumbent Cynthia Soto (D-Chicago) by a 4-1 margin, with Soto gaining nearly 80 percent of the vote.

David Zwolinski, Bob Zwolinski's father, issued a statement early Friday on behalf of himself and his son.

"We thank the Chicago Police Department for conducting a professional and thorough investigation. This is not Russia or Iran; a physical attack on a candidate is an attack on Democracy. The voters of the District deserve better. There is no room in our society for thugs and bullies," David Zwolinski said.

First elected in 2001, Soto is a Democratic member of the Illinois House, representing the 4th District, which includes parts of Ukrainian Village, Bucktown, Humboldt Park, Logan Square, West Town and Wicker Park.

Zwolinski, a Ukrainian Village resident and Democrat, helped to co-found the Wells High School Rugby Club in 2014 and works as a sales director, according to his campaign website. Zwolinski told DNAinfo Chicago on Tuesday that he prefers to keep the name of his employer private.

For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: