Country Thunder wristbands stolen, Illinois group accused

A man and two women from Illinois are accused of stealing bags of Country Thunder wristbands and attempting to sell them during the 2023 music festival.

The accused are Thomas Bernatek, Amelia Miulli, and Morgan Timmons – all from Park Ridge, Illinois. They each face a felony charge of receiving stolen property valued at more than $10,000.

"It’s 30,000 people on the Country Thunder grounds. It’s a 24-hour-a-day operation," said KCSD Capt. Eric Klinkhammer. "We patrol that area pretty heavily, and every year something like this happens."

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

According to a criminal complaint, a detective with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department was dispatched to the Country Thunder festival grounds in the town of Randall on July 23 for a reported burglary. The detective met with the festival site manager who said someone broke into the will call booth overnight and took three bags of wristbands valued at over $50,000. 

"Country Thunder had done a little bit of investigation of their own and found that they found the wristbands that were stolen for sale on Facebook Marketplace," Klinkhammer said.

The festival site manager told the detective the front of the will call booth has a panel that folds down. That cover was indeed folded down when they closed, but a new employee forgot to lock it. The complaint states that, when opening on Saturday, workers "noticed that someone had flipped up the front cover." The site manager said several items were scattered on the floor and the bags were missing.

Country Thunder in Kenosha County

The complaint said the detective identified the person selling the stolen wristbands as Bernatek. The detective communicated with Bernatek on Facebook and said he wanted to buy six wristbands for $50 each They arranged to meet at the Uber/taxi area of the festival grounds. Another deputy in plain clothes met with Bernatek. That deputy and had his phone on speaker, the complaint states, so the detective could hear their conversation. As soon as Bernatek confirmed he had the wristbands, deputies detained him.

In an interview with police, Bernatek said he was not at Country Thunder the day before, but that his girlfriend, Miulli, and Timmons, were there. The complaint states Miulli sent Bernatek a text that she found bags of wristbands in the mud, and no one picked them up so she grabbed them.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

Law enforcement reviewed text messages on Bernatek's phone with Miulli. The complaint said Miulli sent pictures bags of Country Thunder wristbands and asked Bernatek for help selling them. The detective recovered dozens of wristbands from Bernatek's shorts pocket.

The detective spoke with Miulli and Timmons. Timmons told the detective, per the complaint, that she and her friends saw wristbands "spread all over the ground" near the will call window. She added "my hand did not go into the window," and the detective adviser her that she wasn't accused of putting her hand into the window.

When speaking with Miulli, the complaint states she also claimed they found the wristbands on the ground outside the will call booth. She denied knowing that Bernatek was going to sell the tickets. When the detective confronted her with several messages where she directly speaks with Bernatek, asking him how she can sell them, the complaint states she maintained she had "no idea he planned to sell them."

Each of the defendants made their initial appearance in Kenosha County court on Tuesday, July 25. Cash bond was set at $500 for each.