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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at: http://www.dukesblotter.com/#sthash.gzOejJCT.dpuf

Officer Down

Saturday, May 30, 2009

PENSION NEWS: Illinois Supreme Court determines Illinois Pension Code does not provide for annual increases to surviving spouses

Illinois Supreme Court determines Illinois Pension Code does not provide for annual increases to surviving spouses

--Just more of an example of how screwed up this state is in matter of taking care of its public servants and their families--
Duke

On March 19, 2009, the Illinois Supreme Court issued its written opinion in the case of Roselle Police Pension Board v. Village of Roselle, Ill.2d , 2009 WL 711335 (2009). In Roselle, the court considered whether the surviving spouse of a Village of Roselle police officer was entitled to receive annual “cost of living” increases on the pension awarded to her following the death of her husband, who had been granted a “line of duty” disability pension and at the time of his death was receiving annual benefit increases based on having attained the age of 60.

Originally, the Roselle Police Pension Board found that Bonnie Gurke, the widow of deceased former police officer Charles Gurke, was entitled to the annual three-percent benefit increases her husband had been receiving at the time of his death. The Village, which intervened in the Board’s proceedings, disagreed and filed a petition for administrative review in the circuit court of DuPage County. The circuit court reversed the Board’s decision to grant Mrs. Gurke the annual increases, and the appellate court later affirmed the circuit court’s decision.

The Illinois Supreme Court granted the Board’s petition for leave to appeal, considering the question of annual benefit increases for surviving spouses. At issue was the language of Section 3-114.1(d) of the Illinois Pension Code, which states that disabled police officers who have been receiving “line of duty” disability pensions “for a period which, when added to the officer’s total service credit in the Fund, equals at least 20 years, shall be eligible to receive an annual noncompounded increase in his or her pension under this Section, equal to 3% of the original pension.” (40 ILCS 5/3-114.1(d)) This language, however, does not address the transfer of such eligibility for annual increases to surviving spouses upon the death of the disabled officer.
The Board argued that the language of Section 3-112(a) of the Illinois Pension Code, generally entitling surviving spouses to the pension benefits the disabled officer received before his death, allows spouses to “step into the shoes” of the officer for the purpose of receiving annual benefit increases under Section 3-114(d). The Illinois Supreme Court rejected this argument, finding that no provision of Article 3 of the Code expressly authorizes the continuation of annual benefit increases to surviving spouses, noting the contrast between Article 3 and numerous other articles of the Code which expressly grant the continuation of such increases to spouses or other survivors. The Court found this contrast important in holding that the continuation of annual benefit increases was not authorized under Section 3-114(d).

The Roselle decision distinguishes the 2003 Second District Court of Appeals decision in Sola v. Roselle Police Pension Board, 342 Ill.App.3d 227 (2nd Dist. 2003), which affirmed the award of annual increases to a surviving spouse on procedural grounds not related to the substantive interpretation of Section 3-114(d).

While the Roselle case involved a disabled police officer and Article 3 of the Code, which applies exclusively to police pensions, the decision also holds implications for firefighter pension funds as well. Similar to Article 3, Article 4 of the Code, which applies to firefighter pensions, does not expressly provide for the continuation of annual “cost of living” increases to surviving spouses. Therefore, the Illinois Supreme Court’s rationale in Roselle would likely extend to surviving spouse benefits under Article 4 should a firefighter pension board’s denial of such increases ever become subject to a legal challenge.

(Article from the website of OBKC&G, Ltd)

SCAVO TRIAL: Motion For Judgment of Aquittal

This is the motion filed by Vito Scavo's attorney for his client to be acquitted at the end of the USA's case. Just a little something I found for you.
Duke

SCAVO TRIAL: Melrose Park case: Ex-police chief 'hijacked' department, feds say

The Trib finally had another story. This has to be the most under reported trial story I have seen in a very long time.--
Duke

By Lauren R. Harrison | Tribune reporter
May 29, 2009

Former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo and two alleged co-conspirators "hijacked the Police Department for their own gain," running a private security company "on the village's dime," alleged a federal prosecutor Thursday in closing arguments in their racketeering and extortion trial.

"The people who were supposed to be enforcing the law were the people stealing from the village of Melrose Park," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Halley Guren.

Scavo and former Deputy Chief Gary Montino used police officers in Scavo's private security firm, in some cases arranging for them to be paid twice, by the village and by the security company, for the same hours, Guren said.

Police cars and attire were also used for private security, Guren said.

Through such acts, Scavo "deprived the people of Melrose Park 100 percent of his honest services," she said.

Scavo is charged with racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice, and income-tax fraud. Montino faces racketeering and mail-fraud charges, and Michael Wynn, a former part-time police officer, is charged with mail fraud.

The government estimated that Scavo received about $504,000 through his security business, IFPC Worldwide Inc., from customers such as Cinemark, Lincoln Technical Institute and Navistar from 2000 to 2006.

In addition, the firm took smaller security jobs at local bars, restaurants and a church, which paid in cash, enabling Scavo to underreport his income on tax forms, Guren said.

Todd Pugh, Scavo's defense attorney, said it is not unusual for smaller businesses to pay in cash, but he did not deny the underreporting.

"Vito Scavo owes the IRS $90,000," he said. "This is not a police corruption case ... it's not about racketeering."

SCAVO TRIAL: POV Blog Posts

--Just some posts by the Pioneer Press reporter covering the trial.--
Duke

Defense withdraws witness that might raise 'specter of organized crime'
By
Jolie Lee
on May 27, 2009 10:58 AM

The defense for former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo called all witnesses yesterday. Five witnesses testified -- three former village trustees, a current police lieutenant and the owner of Kiddieland. One more was supposed to testify -- Det. Michael Decarlo.

Decarlo apparently ran illegal poker machines in his father's bar and filed false taxes, according to a 1998 grand jury testimony. Before jurors had returned to the courtroom, federal prosecutors in Scavo's trial argued that they should be able to raise these issues during cross-examination.

"This goes to the heart of his (Decarlo's) credibility," said prosecutor Halley Guren.

Decarlo's 1998 testimony also mentioned cash pick-ups by two men, Rocky and Billy the Goat.

Scavo's attorney Todd Pugh said Decarlo was never charged for the poker machines and tax fraud, and bringing it up during Scavo's trial would be "highly prejudicial."

"Rocky, Billy the Goat, Melrose Park, cash pick-ups on Monday ... It would interject the specter of organized crime," Pugh argued to Judge Joan Gottschall.

Judge Gottschall ruled there was a "real argument for credibility" and prosecutors could bring up the past illegal actions.

"Then we will withdraw the witness," Pugh said.

Coincidentally, one of the prosecutors in Scavo's trial, Stephen Andersson, said he was an attorney related to the 1998 grand jury testimony.

21 trial days later, prosecution rests in Scavo case
By
Jolie Lee
on May 22, 2009 5:11 PM

After six weeks -- or 21 trial days -- prosecutors rested their extortion and racketeering case against former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo.

After some of the other testimony -- like details of the alleged shakedowns and undercover recordings -- today's testimony seemed a rather tame ending: an IRS agent on Scavo's under-reported taxes.

Scavo is accused of filing false personal tax returns and corporate tax returns for DOD Security Consultants.

From 1999 to 2006, local businesses paid more than $3.3 million to DOD and a security firm that Scavo recommended (and got commissions for his recommendations). Scavo reported the income from commissions but he did not report all of the money paid to DOD directly, which sometimes was in cash.

On his personal taxes, Scavo allegedly under-reported more than $160,000 in personal income, thus owing about $34,900, between 2000 and 2004.

The defense will begin calling witnesses on Tuesday after the Memorial Day weekend. Thomas Breen, Scavo's attorney, said he expects to call "two or three police officers and two or three trustees." Defense testimony is expected to last about a day, which means the jury could begin deliberations as soon as Thursday.

A reminder: Prosecution has burden of proof
By
Jolie Lee
on May 21, 2009 6:08 PM

Vito Scavo's defense called for a mistrial after the prosecution in his federal corruption trial used the words "to prove his innocence."

"He's shifting the burden of proof," said Scavo's attorney Todd Pugh, referring to statements made by Asst. U.S. Atty. Stephen Andersson.

Judge Joan Gottschall did not grant the motion for a mistrial. Instead, she gave a cautionary instruction to the jurors that the burden of proof is in fact on the government.

Scavo paid $11,800 in cash for three TVs
By
Jolie Lee
on May 18, 2009 12:44 PM

A former manager at the Melrose Park Best Buy, 1334 Winston Plaza, testified today he sold three televisions to then-Police Chief Vito Scavo, who paid $11,800 in cash.

Scavo is on federal trial for allegedly running private security firms out of the police department. Managers of institutions that hired Scavo's security have testified that the chief wanted payment in cash.

Initially Scavo had tried pay by a check that could not be processed for an unknown reason, according to the testimony. Scavo returned a few hours later with the cash.

The TV sets -- two 42-inch high-definition plasma TV screens and a "projector-like" TV -- were shipped to Scavo's home in Naples, Florida, in the summer of 2005.

SCAVO TRIAL: Closing arguments: Scavo a victim of personal vendetta

May 29, 2009
By JOLIE LEE

The defense for former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo said the chief was the target of a federal investigation rooted in a personal vendetta and the 22-count indictment is overblown, according to closing statements Thursday in Scavo's seven-week extortion and racketeering trial.

“This is a tax case. This is not a police corruption case,” said defense attorney Todd Pugh.

Pugh told the jurors that the defense will not dispute Scavo's false tax filings. Scavo underreported about $370,000 in personal and corporate income on his taxes from 2000 to 2004, owing about $90,000 in taxes.

But other allegations – extortion, racketeering conspiracy, obstruction of justice – are not based on evidence, according to Pugh's closing arguments.

The defense argued the government targeted Scavo based on the corroboration of a Melrose Park officer who had a personal beef with Scavo.

In early 2005, Scavo accused Lt. George Zito and his wife of stealing money from the Melrose Park Little League, Pugh said. Zito, who did not testify in the trial, went to the feds as payback, Pugh said. In April 2008, the Illinois Attorney General's office filed a complaint against Lisa Zito.

Personal agendas do not constitute a case, the defense argued.

“This case is about proof,” Pugh said. “It's not about perception.”

It is common for police officers to work second jobs as security guards, and Scavo's companies allowed Melrose Park cops to do that, Pugh said. As chief from 1995 to 2006, Scavo was concerned about security, especially at local bars where fights, stabbings and shootings had occurred, Pugh said.

The added manpower on the streets – an estimated 100,000 hours of security provided under Scavo's watch – made the village safer and “didn't cost citizens a dime,” Pugh said.

“At no point when (Scavo) was chief of police did citizens not get everything they bargained for from the police department,” Pugh said. Pugh attempted to distance Scavo from some of the charges – such as the allegation that on-duty cops worked private security and were paid twice, once for the police work and again for the security work.

Pugh said Michael “Mickey” Caliendo, the supervisor of part-time officers, was in charge of scheduling at Lincoln Technical Institute and churches, where “double-dipping” took place. Caliendo is a convicted felon and served on the police department as a civilian employee, not a sworn officer.

The prosecution argued Scavo instructed others to lie to federal agents after the search was made public in September 2005. During the trial, jurors listened to conversations secretly recorded by witnesses cooperating with the feds. Scavo repeatedly told an officer to tell the truth in the recordings, Pugh said.

As part of the obstruction of justice charges, the prosecution also alleges Scavo instructed Lt. Ric Cervone to change officers' overtime records so it appeared cops used days off when in fact they were working private security or running personal errands for Scavo while on-duty.

In one recording, Cervone admitted to an officer he had lied to the feds. Pugh said nowhere in the recordings does Scavo say he directed Cervone to change the records.

Pugh reminded jurors that some of the prosecution's witnesses testified for immunity from charges and to use “common sense” when considering their testimony.

German Cepeda, a police department janitor and village code inspector, testified he ran personal errands for Scavo while on the clock. During his testimony, Cepeda was blasted by the defense for his misdeeds. As code inspector, Cepeda took bribes from motorists he pulled over. As a security guard at a bar, he told drug users he caught to pay up or be arrested. Cepeda pleaded guilty to extortion for forcing a local bar owner to hire Scavo's guards.

Friday, May 29, 2009

SCAVO TRIAL: Venute Recordings

In addition to the transcripts I posted here >>Click here<<

These are the actual recordings to go along with each transcript. Much better to listen to and read along than just read. You get a better feel for it when you hear the voices.

Each recording is numbered to coincide with the the proper transcript. Click on each link to download.

>>Venute 1<<

>>Venute 2<<

>>Venute 3<<

>>Venute 4<<

>>Venute 5<<

>>Venute 6<<

>>Venute 7<<

SCAVO TRIAL: Closing arguments: Scavo hijacked police department

May 29, 2009
By JOLIE LEE

In the closing arguments of Vito Scavo's seven-week federal corruption trial, the prosecution said the former Melrose Park police chief “hijacked the police department” by running private security companies there, using on-duty cops and police resources, and shaking down local institutions to hire his security.

“The people who were supposed to be enforcing the law were the people stealing from the residents, the village and businesses of Melrose Park,” Asst. U.S. Atty. Halley Guren said. The alleged victims of Scavo's scheme included Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church, Kiddieland Amusement Park, Jewel Food Store, local bars and others.

Scavo, who was chief for 12 years, faces 22 counts of extortion, racketeering conspiracy, obstruction of justice, mail and wire fraud, and filing false personal and corporate income taxes. Jury deliberation is scheduled to begin Monday.

Through threats, intimidation and the cover of his official power, Scavo “got business he otherwise would not have gotten,” Guren said.

Managers at Cinemark testified that the opening of a Melrose Park movie theater was at risk if they did not hire Scavo's security, so they agreed – even though Scavo wanted double the number of guards they needed and a higher rate than any other Cinemark theater in the country at that time.

Scavo used similar strong-arm tactics with garbage-hauling company Allied Waste Services, prosecutors said. In meetings with managers, the chief yelled and used profanity, according to court testimony.

One Allied manager said he felt like a student in the principal's office. Another said he feared Melrose Park police would unfairly target the company's trucks for weight checks.

Like Cinemark, Allied agreed to Scavo's conditions; it ended up hiring double the number of the previous guards at triple the cost.

Bar owners said cops stopped harassing customers only after Scavo's guards were hired. Scavo also used lies and deception to get business.

Scavo's company, DOD Security Consultants, referred businesses to the security firm IFPC Worldwide Inc. He received a commission for every referral, prosecutors said.

Scavo, however, falsely claimed DOD was a division of IFPC and that his firm was covered under IFPC's insurance. In fact, DOD was not licensed nor insured but still provided security. Businesses testified they would have never hired DOD if they knew it wasn't insured.

In 2004 and 2005, Scavo convinced Navistar, an engine-making company with a plant in Melrose Park, to offer free use of its parking lot as a public service while a haunted house was open. Scavo charged cars to park and pocketed the cash, making about $4,000 each year.

After a federal search at the police department in the fall of 2005, Scavo was recorded telling an officer not to mention the parking lot or a bar where he had security guards. The officer was cooperating with the FBI investigation.

In the recording, Scavo turned up a TV in his office and whispered, “Don't ever volunteer that.”

Secretly recorded conversations also revealed Scavo ordered a lieutenant to get rid of paperwork related to officers' time due records, overtime worked that could used as days off.

Without paperwork, only computer records existed, which could be changed at Scavo's whim. The doctored records allowed Scavo to hide the fact he was using on-duty cops to do private security and personal chores, like pick up deli sandwiches, drive furniture to his Florida home and pick up dog feces in his back yard, the prosecution alleged.

Between 1996 and 2006, local businesses paid more than $3.4 million to IFPC and Scavo's DOD company. According to testimony, Scavo instructed some businesses to pay him at the police station in cash.

Scavo underreported about $370,000 in personal and corporate taxes between 2000 and 2004. The defense did not dispute the tax fraud charges.

In concluding her arguments, Guren told jurors to use the judge's instructions, the evidence presented in the case and their common sense to make their decision.

"You should come back with a verdict that is consistent with the evidence, and that verdict is guilty,” she said.

NEWS: Off-Duty NYPD Officer Fatally Shot by Comrade

--A lot can be said here but this is a tragedy no matter which way you look at it. The out come of the investigation will be very interesting.--
Duke

By JENNIFER PELTZ
Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK --

A plainclothes policeman who drew his gun while chasing someone he had found rummaging through his car was shot and killed by a fellow officer who was driving by and saw the pursuit, the police commissioner said.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 25-year-old Omar J. Edwards died after being shot late Thursday within blocks of the Harlem housing police station where he worked.

The shooter was white and Edwards was black, a fact that could raise questions about police use of deadly force in a minority community. And in recent years there have been several cases of off-duty policemen in the New York City area being shot and killed by other officers.

Edwards had just finished his shift around 10:30 p.m. when he headed to his car and saw that the driver's-side window had been smashed and a man was going through the vehicle, Kelly said.

Edwards struggled with the man, who got away from him by slipping out of his sweater, Kelly said. Edwards chased the man up two streets with his gun drawn, he said.

A sergeant and two plainclothes officers in an unmarked police car saw the pursuit and made a U-turn to follow the men, Kelly said. The officers were from the neighboring 25th Precinct anti-crime unit. One of the officers jumped out of the car and fired six times, hitting Edwards twice - once in the arm and once in the chest, he said.

Kelly said Edwards did not fire his weapon. He died at the Harlem Hospital Center about an hour after the shooting.

Witnesses said they heard several gun shots. Carmen Romero, on her way to work Friday morning, has lived in a nearby housing project for 26 years and said the shots sounded as if they were next to her window.

She said she and others in the area have been debating what role the race of the victim might have played in the shooting.

"I think they just saw a guy with a gun. How's that cop (who shot him) supposed to know" he was a police officer, she said. On the other hand, she said, it could have been because the cop was black.

"I'm not saying it was," she said. "They see a black guy with a gun. All the white cop saw was a black man with a gun. Pow, pow, pow."

The Rev. Al Sharpton said he got calls shortly after the shooting "from black officers who were at the precinct and were alarmed by the shooting of Omar Edwards."

The civil rights activist said he and his National Action Network "are completely concerned of a growing pattern of black officers being killed with the assumption that they are the criminals."

"This calls for federal investigation and intervention to sort out the facts and bring about a just resolve," Sharpton said in a statement. "Can police investigate themselves fairly and impartially? It would seem very difficult at best and unlikely in fact."

It was unclear whether the officers identified themselves. The name of the officer who fired the shots has not been released, but Kelly said he had worked at the NYPD for four years.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday that investigators were reviewing security tapes and interviewing witnesses, and said the shooting was not deliberate. Investigators were also questioning the man Edwards had been chasing.

"The only thing that can come out of this is to improve procedures so perhaps it doesn't happen again," Bloomberg said. "We all know policing is a dangerous job and accidents happen when people have guns in their hands, even legal guns in this case which they are authorized and trained to use."

Kelly said Edwards had been on the force for two years and worked in the housing bureau. He was recently married and had two young children. His father-in-law has been a police officer for 19 years.

On Friday, police blanketed the shooting scene. A stretch of 125th Street, a major thoroughfare, was blocked off. People passing in cars and waiting for buses tried to get a glimpse beyond the yellow crime-scene tape; some asked each other what was going on.

The shooting recalled other cases of off-duty policemen being shot and killed by fellow officers.

In 2008, a black, off-duty Mount Vernon police officer was killed by a Westchester County policeman while holding a gun on an assault suspect in suburban White Plains. A grand jury found the victim had failed to identify himself as an officer. County officers - one white, one black and two Hispanic - were cleared of wrongdoing by a grand jury.

In 2006, a New York City police officer, Eric Hernandez, was shot and killed by an on-duty patrolman who was responding to an attack at a White Castle in the Bronx.

SCAVO TRIAL: Update

As nothing has been reported of late I have done some investigating for everyone. I have been having trouble opening documents through my account at Pacer but I can get the docket reports.

-Closing arguments were scheduled to begin May 28 at 10:15am, have not seen anything to indicate this did not happen.

-Jury instruction conference was to precede the start of closing statements.

-Both sides have submitted updated jury instruction requests.

-All defendants requested a "Judgment of Acquittal" at the end of the USA case with the judge reserving judgment.

And then there was this:

-All defendants shall, at or around noon on 5/29/09, inform the court whether they wish to have the jury or the court consider the forfeiture allegations if the jury renders a guilty verdict.


I would get the actual jury instructions but it is 100+ pages and it costs eight cents a page for me to get. Sorry

As I know more, so will you.

NEWS: Police chief pleads in bribery/prostitution case

--This is the guy that signed one of the warrants that were used in the Scavo/Melrose Park investigation--
Duke

By Chuck Goudie and Ann Pistone

May 29, 2009 (GRANT PARK, Ill.) (WLS) -- It was a long fall for a veteran Illinois lawman.

The plea deal, that brings Fitts' long case to an end, includes admissions to three of 10 federal criminal counts: wire fraud, filing a false federal income tax return and illegal structuring of financial transactions.

The 41-year-old Fitts on Wednesday admitted his role in the remaining seven counts alleging that he ran an illegal prostitution sting out of his police department in 2006. Those admissions were part of his plea agreement with federal prosecutors following an indictment that also alleged that he accepted more than $400,000 in "fines" from victims of the sting operation.

Among the facts that Fitts admitted were that he paid a woman $38,242 to pose as a prostitute. The scheme would then lure people into arrest by Fitts' officers. Federal investigators said that Chief Fitts would then make an offer to those arrested that the case would be dropped if they paid a "fine" that was typically $3,500. The fine ended up in the chief's pocket, according to authorities.

Fitts, police chief of tiny Grant Park south of Chicago, had been on the job since 1994. He was indicted last June.

The I-Team last summer uncovered Fitts' role in a corruption investigation in west suburban Melrose Park. He was working as an agent for the U.S. Department of Labor at the time. Full details on that part of the story are at: http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=6214210

NEWS: Bellwood man pleads not guilty in murder

--My former WESTAF crew handled this case. This guy is sunk.--
Duke

May 28, 2009

A 38-year-old Bellwood man pleaded innocent Thursday to multiple murder, kidnapping and armed robbery charges filed in connection with the April death of his ex-girlfriend.

Charles Randle of Bellwood pleaded not guilty to 24 counts of first-degree murder, two counts of aggravated unlawful restraint, and one count each of armed robbery with a firearm, aggravated kidnapping with a firearm, robbery and kidnapping, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

If convicted, he faces up to life in prison for the death of Fertamina Smith.

Smith, 35, of 3519 Jackson St., was discovered in the trunk of a 1995 Ford Taurus on April 8 at 51 W. 68th St. in Chicago. An autopsy determined she died from a gunshot wound to the chest, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

Smith had been reported missing April 7 by her sister, who hadn't seen her since she left to see her ex-boyfriend Randle, with whom she has four children.

Randle allegedly called his lawyer, met with him and gave him the keys to the vehicle, according to police. The lawyer went to where the car was located, opened the trunk, saw the victim and flagged down a Chicago Police car. Randle turned himself in to police the same day.

Randle remains in custody at Cook County Jail. His next court date, a status hearing, has been set for July 6 before Cook County Judge Carol Kipperman, Simonton said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: Officer, Outfit member indicted

By Chuck Goudie

Download and read the actual indictment >>HERE<<

May 28, 2009 (WLS) -- Racketeering indictments have been handed up against a top Outfit member and a current Cicero police officer on charges that include armed robbery, arson and illegal gambling.

The case grew from a 2003 bombing of a gaming house in Berwyn that was allegedly ordered by the mob and carried out by members of a violent motorcycle gang.

The lead defendant is Mike Sarno, a career hoodlum who as a rising mob figure was known as "Fat Boy" due to his bulging, 350 pound waistline. Now, as a 51-year old boss Sarno is known in Outfit circles as "The Large Guy."

Sarno's home was among six locations that were the subject of search warrants last summer.

Here are details provided by the United States Attorney in Chicago:

Five new defendants, together with two others who were initially charged last year with using a pipe bomb to damage a Berwyn video and vending machine business in 2003, were indicted on sweeping racketeering conspiracy charges alleging eight years of criminal activity, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The charges encompass at least nine armed robberies and thefts, arson, illegal gambling and obstruction justice, including by current and former suburban police officers who are among the seven defendants. New defendant, Michael Sarno, allegedly oversaw, directed and guided certain of the group's illegal activities, including causing previously-charged defendants Mark Polchan and Samuel Volpendesto, to bomb C & S Coin Operated Amusements, a video gaming device business in Berwyn, to eliminate competition and to protect and enhance the group's own business relationships, according to the indictment.

The indictment alleges that the seven defendants were associated in a criminal enterprise that existed since at least 2001 to generate income for its members through illegal activities, including: committing armed robberies and thefts from jewelry stores, businesses and private residences; transporting stolen goods across state lines; committing thefts and obtaining stolen items from interstate shipments of goods; purchasing, possessing and selling stolen goods; using threats, violence and intimidation to advance the enterprise's illegal activities; committing arson; operating and facilitating illegal gambling businesses, including the use of video gambling machines; obstructing justice and criminal investigations by tampering with and intimidating witnesses; obstructing justice and criminal investigations by gathering information about the existence and extent of ongoing federal criminal investigations from sources including corrupt local law enforcement officers and law enforcement databases; and traveling in interstate commerce to further the goals of the criminal enterprise.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of at least $1,878,172 from six of the seven defendants as proceeds of the alleged racketeering activity.

Law enforcement agents yesterday executed federal search warrants at more than two dozen suburban locations, including bars and restaurants, in connection with the ongoing investigation.

The 12-count superseding indictment was returned on May 21 and unsealed today, announced Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Andrew L. Traver, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Robert D. Grant, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Alvin Patton, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago.

All seven defendants, including four currently in custody, will be arraigned at later dates in U.S. District Court.

Sarno, 51, of Westchester, also known as "Big Mike," "Mikey," "Large," and "the Large Guy," allegedly oversaw the group's illegal gambling ventures and received a share of the illegal profits from Polchan, 41, formerly of Justice, who also occupied a leadership role. The indictment alleges that Polchan identified targets for robbery and used his business, a sole proprietorship operating under the names "M. Goldberg Jewelers," and "Goldberg Jewelers," located at 1203 South Cicero Ave., in Cicero, to conduct meetings with criminal associates, as well as to obtain, store, and sell stolen goods that were either transported across state lines, obtained through robbery or thefts from interstate shipments, or obtained through the fraudulent use of access devices, such as credit cards.

Polchan also used Goldberg Jewelers to plan the group's illegal gambling activities with Sarno, and to temporarily house video gambling devices prior to distributing them to various locations, including clubhouses operated by the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, of which Polchan was a member.

Polchan and Volpendesto, 85, of Oak Brook, remain in federal custody since they were arrested and charged last summer with participating in the bombing of C & S Coin Operated Amusements. On Feb. 25, 2003, a pipe bomb was detonated outside a building at 6508 West 16th St., in Berwyn, that housed several businesses, including C & S, which at the time leased coin-operated vending and video machines. The explosion outside the storefront entrance to C & S caused broken windows and damage to the interior ceiling and wood frame above the doorway to the business. No one was injured in the explosion, which occurred at night. The new indictment contains the same three counts  conspiracy to use, and actual use of, an explosive device to damage property, and use of a pipe bomb  that were pending against them previously. Polchan and Volpendesto have both pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Also indicted were:

James Formato, 42, a former Berwyn police officer who allegedly acted as an interstate courier for stolen money; conducted physical surveillance of potential targets of illegal activity under the guise of carrying out his duties as a police officer; participated in an attempted armed robbery; and provided information concerning ongoing law enforcement investigation into illegal enterprise activity, including the bombing of C & S Coin Operated Amusements;

Mark Hay, 52, who allegedly participated in robberies of jewelry stores; identified potential targets for robbery; participated in the surveillance of robbery targets; and acquired stolen vehicles for use in robberies;

Anthony Volpendesto, 46, Samuel Volpendesto's son, who also allegedly participated in robberies of jewelry stores; identified potential robbery targets; and participated in the interstate transportation of stolen goods; and

Dino Vitalo, 40, a Cicero police officer since 1991, who allegedly caused law enforcement databases to be used to provide information about potential targets of illegal activity and ongoing federal law enforcement investigations; provided advice on possible federal law enforcement activity; searched the area surrounding Goldberg Jewelers for electronic surveillance equipment used by federal law enforcement; and filed a false police report in order to provide a false alibi for other members of the conspiracy.

As part of the racketeering conspiracy, the indictment alleges that one or more of the defendants participated in robberies, some armed, of jewelry stores and commercial businesses in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, and in some instances caused stolen jewelry to be transported across state lines. The robberies included the:

May 23, 2002, robbery of items valued at approximately $60,000 from Jacqueline's Jewelry in Valparaiso, Ind.;
June 6, 2002, robbery of items valued at approximately $48,000 from Husar's House of Fine Diamonds in West Bend, Wis.;
July 9, 2003, armed robbery of items valued at approximately $78,221 from Uffenbeck Jewelers in Fond du Lac, Wis.;
July 24, 2003, armed robbery of items valued at approximately $236,902 from LD Jewelers, in Hickory Hills, Ill.;
April 26, 2001, robbery of The Gold Mine Jewelry Store, in St. Charles, Illinois, the stolen items having a total value of approximately $29,780;
May 1, 2002, robbery of items valued at $239,752 from Lenna Jewelers in Hinsdale;
March 2003 attempted armed robbery of an individual who resided in Berwyn; and the
Aug. 25, 2003, armed robbery of items valued at approximately $645,517 from Marry Me Jewelry Store in LaGrange Park.

And one or more defendants allegedly participated in the 2002 residential burglary of a home on Rockwell Street in Chicago, stealing approximately $540,000, of which at least $150,000 was later transported to Florida.

In addition to the racketeering conspiracy against all seven defendants, Sarno and Polchan were charged with operating an illegal gambling business between 2002 and at least July 2008.

Formato alone was charged with one count of conspiracy to obstruct of justice, while Polchan and Vitalo were charged together in a separate count with conspiracy to obstruct justice. Polchan alone was also charged with one count of possession of stolen goods from interstate shipments; three counts of filing false individual federal income tax returns; and one count of failing to file a federal income tax return.

An earlier defendant in this investigation, Kyle C. Knight, 45, formerly of Merrillville, Ind., who was charged in 2007, has pleaded guilty to supplying explosives used in the C & S bombing and a series of robberies, and he is cooperating while awaiting sentencing.

Federal officials said the investigation is continuing, and they commended the assistance of the Berwyn Police Department. The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys T. Markus Funk and Amarjeet S. Bhachu.

If convicted, the charges in the indictment carry the following maximum terms of incarceration: racketeering conspiracy  20 years; conspiracy to use an explosive device to damage property and using an explosive device to damage property  a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a maximum of 20 years; using a pipe bomb  a mandatory consecutive sentence of at least 30 years and a maximum of life; obstruction of justice  20 years; operating an illegal gambling business  5 years; possession of goods stolen from interstate shipments  10 years; filing false tax returns  3 years; and failing to file a tax return  1 year. In addition, each count carries a maximum fine of $250,000, except the failing to file count, which is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $100,000. Defendants convicted of tax offenses must be assessed mandatory costs of prosecution and remain liable for any back taxes, interest and penalties owed. The Court, however, would determine the appropriate sentence to be imposed under the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

Police Blotters May 28, 2009

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: State Police trooper found shot in field dies

May 27, 2009

FROM STNG WIRE REPORTS

An Illinois State Police Tollway District trooper who apparently shot himself Tuesday in a wooded area near northwest suburban Carpentersville has died, authorities said.

Joshua Newnam, 25, of the 200 block of Robert Drive in Elgin, suffered an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound at Boyer and Huntley roads in an unincorporated area near Carpentersville and was pronounced dead at 9:05 p.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

Newnam was a one-year patrol veteran with Chicago-based State Police Tollway District.

Authorities were called to a farm field about 12:45 p.m., according to a statement issued by State Police Sgt. Juan J. Valenzuela.

Newnam was found in a line of trees next to the field, reports said.

Paramedics initially took Newnam to Provena St. Joseph Hospital in Elgin and he was later airlifted Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.

An autopsy is scheduled for later Wednesday, the medical examiner’s office said.

LABOR NEWS: New Mexico Police Unions Sue Over New DA Policy

--Could you imagine this in Cook County? Ha!!--
Duke

CARLSBAD, N.M. --

Two police unions in Southeast New Mexico have sued the district attorney.

Officers in Carlsbad and Hobbs said they are fuming over a police the district attorney started that they said makes their jobs more difficult.

According to court documents, a February e-mail to all law enforcement in Chaves, Eddy and Lea counties by the new district attorney, Janetta Hicks, indicated a new policy where her office would no longer prosecute all misdemeanors.

Hicks said staffing and budget issues forces the change.

Since the e-mail, police officers have acted as prosecutors representing the state in all misdemeanor cases not involving driving while intoxicated or domestic violence.

Last week, the police officers associations of Carlsbad and Hobbs filed a civil lawsuit against Hicks.

"The officers are not lawyers," said prosecuting attorney Tom Martin. "They are not licensed to practice law. They do not have adequate training to be prosecuting attorneys."

While officers have received some legal training, they argue the cases take too many police off the street, which causes the safety of citizens to suffer.

"The district attorney has the absolute duty to represent the state of New Mexico as the prosecuting attorney," Martin said.

Martin said the policy has created a hardship and caused confusion for officers in the courtroom.

SCAVO TRIAL: Bars were delinquent before Scavo's security was hired

May 26, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

Melrose Park cops harassed customers until local bars hired security through then-Police Chief Vito Scavo, according to testimony earlier in Scavo's federal corruption trial. But a police lieutenant and witness for the defense said Tuesday (May 26) that these bars were sources of fights, under-age drinking and drunken driving.

Scavo is in the seventh week of his federal corruption trial. He is accused of running private security firms out of the police department and shaking down local businesses to hire his security.

Owners at Jefferson's Tap and El Gran Burrito testified earlier in the trial that problems with Melrose Park police officers -- sniffing customers' drinks, pulling liquor licenses, yelling at customers as they left the bar at closing time -- occurred much less frequently after the bars hired security guards through Scavo.

But Melrose Park Police Lt. Dino DiMaio testified that police were simply enforcing the law. DiMaio had caught his own niece at Jefferson's Tap when she was under 21, according to the testimony.

Prosecutor Stephen Andersson tried to discredit the testimony by drawing attention to DiMaio's temper.

Then-Deputy Chief Sam Pitassi, now chief, instructed DiMaio to attend anger management sessions after a 2006 civil lawsuit, Andersson said.

"Which lawsuit? I've been in a lot of lawsuits," DiMaio said.

"You've been in a lot of lawsuits?" Andersson asked.

"A few," DiMaio replied.

DiMaio attended seven sessions with the counselor but claimed he did not know why he was sent to the sessions. Although he admitted to being loud and using profanity, DiMaio repeatedly denied having an anger management problem.

SCAVO TRIAL: Defense witnesses: Safety was chief's main concern

May 26, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

The crux of Tuesday's testimony for the defense was to fight the allegation that Vito Scavo coerced businesses into hiring his security firms while he was Melrose Park police chief from 1995 to 2006.

Scavo faces federal extortion and racketeering charges related to running private security companies out of the police department, using on-duty cops and police resources.

Managers for Cinemark, a national movie theater chain, testified earlier in the trial that Scavo threatened the opening of a Melrose Park theater in 1999 if they did not agree to hire the chief's guards -- at the number and price Scavo dictated.

The defense contends an agreement to hire Scavo's security already existed between the village and Cinemark prior to the theater's opening.

According to testimony, safety at the theater was a major concern for local residents. The Village Board, in 1997, denied Cinemark's request to open the theater.

The main reasons for the denial were "traffic and safety issues," testified former village Trustee Carlotta Ariola.

"(Residents) were concerned about the influx of people from different areas coming into Melrose Park," Ariola said.

Former Trustee Joseph McMillan also testified Tuesday that security was one of the residents' concerns.

After the Village Board voted down the theater's opening, Cinemark sued the village. A Cook County Circuit Court judge ordered that the theater could be opened -- without any requirement to hire security.

The defense has not been able to produce a verifiable document that spells out the alleged agreement to hire Scavo's guards, the prosecution argued.

Scavo's attorneys tried to introduce into evidence a letter from a Cinemark representative to village trustees that shows a previous agreement existed. But Judge Joan Gottschall ordered the letter be stricken from evidence since the defense could not verify if the letter was a draft and who actually wrote and signed it.

SCAVO TRIAL: Kiddieland owner felt pressure from feds, not Scavo

May 26, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

The first witness for the defense in the federal corruption trial of former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo said he felt like a government investigator was trying to "massage my testimony."

Scavo is in the seventh week of his extortion and racketeering trial after prosecutors rested their case Friday. The former chief is charged with running private security companies out of the police station and shaking down local businesses to hire security through him.

Tom Norini, owner and general manager of Kiddieland, testified Tuesday (May 26) that he was interviewed by the U.S. Attorney's office and other agencies in 2006 for two hours. The children's amusement park hired security guards through Scavo in 2003.

Prior to a grand jury hearing about a month after the interview, a U.S. Postal Service inspector wanted to interview Norini for four additional hours, according to the testimony.

Norini said he was willing to testify before the grand jury, but "I wouldn't come in advance of the testimony."

The inspector, however, continued to call Norini.

"She (the inspector) put a little pressure on me. I felt a little uncomfortable," Norini said.

In one phone conversation with the inspector, Norini said he felt so uncomfortable that he asked if he was under investigation.

"I finally asked if I needed to get a lawyer," Norini testified.

Prosecutors never called Norini to testify in the grand jury or the trial.

According to his testimony, Norini said he never felt coerced to hire security through Scavo and the guards always did their job.

"Mostly (the guards) were really good at finding little Johnny when he walked away from mom," Norini said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NEWS: Woman threatens baby in hold-up in River Forest

May 25, 2009
By CHRIS LAFORTUNE clafortune@pioneerlocal.com

River Forest police arrested a Chicago woman Saturday after she allegedly demanded money at gunpoint from a resident walking his infant son in a stroller.

Valerie Nash, 39, of 602 N. Ridgeway, Chicago, was charged with two counts of attempted armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault. River Forest police arrested her at about 10 a.m. Saturday, May 23.

Police received a call for help at about 9:30 a.m. in the vicinity of Division Street and Harlem Avenue. A River Forest resident was pushing his 8-month-old son in a stroller along Harlem Avenue when Nash approached them in a white vehicle, asking for directions.

Nash then allegedly brandished a handgun and said, "Give me your money or I will shoot the baby," police reported in a release.

The man grabbed the stroller with his son and ran south toward Division.

Nash gave pursuit, Deputy Police Chief Gregory Weiss said, driving her car up onto the curb as she did.

A description of the offender and vehicle was broadcast over police radio, and Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley, monitoring the broadcast, later observed a vehicle matching that description driving north on Oak Park Avenue, River Forest police reported.

Oak Park police stopped the car on the 6800 block of North Avenue, and Nash was identified at the scene of the stop. An air pistol BB gun was found in her vehicle, police said.

No one was injured in the incident.

River Forest police reported that Nash is on parole for manufacturing or distributing a controlled substance. She will appear for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Thursday, May 28, at Maybrook Courthouse in Maywood.

NEWS: Real talk, real results

FIGHTING CRIME | What a difference 1 hour can make for ex-felons


May 26, 2009
BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter nkorecki@suntimes.com

On a recent Thursday night, about 30 felons fresh out of prison sat in a room on the West Side to hear some truths about their future.

These are tough guys. Tattooed and pierced gang-bangers, gun runners, some with drug problems.

They sat with arms crossed, chins up, doing their best to look uninterested.

Here's what they were told:

Caught with a gun? As convicted felons, they now face federal weapons charges.

"It's the real deal. It's the U.S. attorney's office," said Assistant State's Attorney Brian Holmes. "They don't lose. They take on governors, the mafia . . . you guys are nothing to them. That's not a threat. It's just a fact of life."

Federal charges means facing a mandatory minimum 15 to 30 years in a system that has a 90 percent to 95 percent conviction rate and where prisoners do 85 percent of their time, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Cramer explained.

Federal law is unbendable for felons caught with a weapon, he said. "A bullet in the federal system is the same as a gun," Cramer warned.

Get back into a gang? A state's attorney's task force will take you down. An agent with Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms will link the gun to you. Drugs? An agent with the Drug Enforcement Administration will sniff you out.

The hourlong forum was put on through Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative started in 2002 to try to reduce gun violence that's raged on the South and West sides of Chicago. Grappling with one of the highest murder rates in the country, Project Safe Neighborhoods tried to come up with ways to bring murders below 600 a year, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said.

By 2004, murders dropped below 500. They've now bounced back up, and while still below 600, Chicago still has more murders than New York and Los Angeles.

According to academic research, talking to felons for just one hour can be pretty effective. They are 30 percent less likely to go back to prison than those who don't attend the Project Safe Neighborhoods forum.

That's due in large part to the social service agencies at the forums that help direct parolees to free voice mail, computer tutorials, and, perhaps most important, to jobs.

One attendee, Stanley Steward, just got out of prison after doing 19 months on an aggravated gun charge. Steward said the Safer Foundation, which is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods, helped land him a custodial job at the CTA.

Pointing to the program's success, Fitzgerald has been on a media tour of sorts, trying to get the word out that with just a little investment in some of the poorest places of the city, business could have a direct hand in driving down violence. The success of the forums shows felons are willing to change if given an opportunity, he said.

That's where corporate Chicago needs to come in, Fitzgerald said.

"Employers have been doing it for 10 years," Fitzgerald said of hiring felons. "We're hoping that corporate Chicago will step up and do their part."

Beyond hiring felons, Fitzgerald said companies could offer high school internships to poor kids who might get inspired after wearing a tie and traveling downtown for a few weeks.

The reminders come as summer approaches and violence usually spikes.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said investing in the community could be as simple as sponsoring an after-school or summer sports program.

"Give these kids something to do so that they're not hanging out on the corner," Alvarez said. "I think you've got kids out there, particularly in minority communities, where those resources are not there."

Back at the forum, perhaps the most powerful address came from Dvoy Boyd from a program called "In My Shoes." Boyd, a former gang-banger, said he was shot at age 14. He survived, but didn't learn his lesson. At age 17, he was shot again, in the back. He's been paralyzed now for 14 years, and uses a wheelchair.

Boyd described how he had to relearn how to bathe, how his mom cried every day for two years.

He now has to pop a Viagra to have sex and has to schedule his bowel movements.

By this time, the room was quiet. Chins were down, hands resting on them, bodies leaning forward.

And, as the session ended, a few people even came around and asked for help.

For more information, check out www.psnchicago.com.

Monday, May 25, 2009

NEWS: Law enforcement gets tough on impostors

--Gee, here's a novel idea...Stop selling the stuff to every person that walks through the door. It seems like, we go to the uniform store and they want our blood type before they let us buy something, even sometimes going as far as calling our dept's for permission. yet, they let a kid buy almost 1400.00 in equipment, no questions asked? You tell me where the problem is--
Duke

ON ALERT AFTER KID COP | Suburban teen stockpiled sheriff's items

May 25, 2009

BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter/fmain@suntimes.com

Like a lot of teens, the 16-year-old suburban boy got an allowance from his parents.

But he wasn't spending his $50-a-week stipend on movies or candy. Instead, the Berwyn teen was buying Cook County sheriff's clothing, hats, patches and even a badge.

"Some kids his age collect baseball cards. This kid collected badges and patches," said Steve Patterson, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

Sheriff's investigators seized the items in March, but did not arrest the boy after determining he didn't impersonate an officer or intend any harm. Still, the case highlights how easy it's been for nearly anyone to buy the gear necessary to pose as a cop.

Law enforcement agencies across the region have been on alert for impersonators after a 14-year-old boy embarrassed the Chicago Police Department in January. The youth -- a former member of the police explorer program -- walked into a South Side police station wearing a uniform. He was given a police radio, joined an officer in a patrol car and even handcuffed a suspect.

The breach resulted in disciplinary proceedings against seven Chicago Police officers as well as an extensive security review of the city's police stations.

Thirteen of the city's 25 police stations will get security upgrades such as new locks and keypad entry systems. The work began last week and will continue through August at a cost of $120,000, Lt. Maureen Biggane said. Eventually, the department will look at security cameras in the stations for possible improvements, she said.

The January incident also prompted the sheriff's office to ramp up its vigilance for police impersonators, Patterson said. Both the sheriff and the Chicago Police Department have alerted police supply stores to scrutinize their customers.

The Berwyn teen came onto the sheriff's radar after he visited Kale Uniforms in Chicago.

He had tried to buy a badge and was asked for identification. He provided an ID that did not match current sheriff's IDs, Patterson said.

A uniform shop employee told investigators the boy spent $1,371.58 there from January to March. On some visits, he said he worked in court services. Another time, he said he directed traffic for the sheriff.

The boy told sheriff's investigators his family was not involved in law enforcement, but he did participate in a Drug Abuse Resistance Education program at the Maywood courthouse when he was 13.

A search of his home turned up 91 Cook County sheriff's patches, 12 sheriff's uniform shirts, eight sheriff's jackets, eight sheriff's sweaters, five sheriff's hats, a sheriff's skull cap, a Cook County Crime Prevention Unit badge, a sheriff's pocket directory, a sheriff's employee incentive discount card, three falsified sheriff's ID cards, a handcuff key and a sheriff's clipboard.

The boy admitted he made up to 15 purchases at Kale and up to five purchases at other shops. He focused on Cook County sheriff's paraphernalia because it was cheaper than Chicago Police gear. He said he purchased the badge on eBay, Patterson said.

On May 13, meanwhile, Sheriff's Deputy Evangelos Kollias helped nab an alleged impersonator, Amar Atiq, after they spoke in a uniform shop on the South Side.

Atiq, 33, of Justice, allegedly said he was a Chicago cop detailed to a SWAT team in Arizona.

Kollias asked Atiq if he had ever worked in the 52nd police district and Atiq allegedly said yes. The problem for Atiq is that the 52nd district does not exist.

Atiq -- who had bought handcuffs, pepper spray and a holster -- was arrested for impersonating an officer and is being held in the Cook County Jail in lieu of $90,000 bail.

NEWS: Northlake man charged with DUI after crash

May 25, 2009
A Northlake man involved in a Friday crash was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to state police.

Alfred A. Morganti, 44, of 144 Golfview Drive in Northlake, was arrested by state police and booked into the Will County Jail.

The crash occurred Friday afternoon on Interstate 57 about a quarter-mile north of Wilmington-Peotone Road, state police said. Morganti's car rear-ended a moving vehicle in the southbound lanes, according to state police.

Both Morganti and the driver of the other vehicle were taken to Kankakee hospitals; Morganti was treated and released, state police said.

— Sun-Times News Group

Saturday, May 23, 2009

SCAVO TRIAL: Prosecutors rest their case against former police chief

May 22, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

After six weeks of testimony, federal prosecutors rested its extortion and racketeering case Friday (May 22) against former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo.

Scavo, 61, allegedly used threats and lies to get local institutions -- including churches and Kiddieland -- to hire security companies he ran out of the Melrose Park Police Station using on-duty cops and squad cars.

After serving in the department for more than 30 years, including 11 as chief, Scavo stepped down in 2006 amid the federal investigation.

Among Scavo's alleged strong-arm tactics, Melrose Park cops harassed bar patrons until the owners hired Scavo's security, according to witnesses. Cinemark managers testified Scavo threatened the opening of a Melrose Park theater if they did not hire his security people. And during a garbage workers' strike in 2003, Scavo forced two local waste companies to fire their guards and hire Scavo's -- at nearly triple the price, witnesses said.

From 1999 to 2006, businesses paid more than $3.3 million in security services to Scavo's company, DOD Security Consultants, and the security firm IFPC Worldwide Inc. Scavo earned commissions for business referrals from IFPC.

But Scavo's DOD company was not licensed or insured to perform security work, even though Scavo falsely claimed an affiliation with IFPC, the prosecution argued.

On-duty officers who worked private security during their shifts were paid for both the security and the police work. Officers received payments for security jobs in cash-filled envelopes at the police station.

Some officers and one code inspector performed personal errands for Scavo when on the clock. They went to the grocery store, washed and gassed Scavo's car and his wife's car, and even picked up dog feces in Scavo's back yard.

Officers who performed personal chores received favored status with Scavo and moved up the ranks of the police department.

Scavo also faces charges of obstruction of justice, mail fraud and filing false personal and corporate taxes.

Secretly recorded conversations revealed Scavo instructed officers and business owners to withhold information from federal agents after a raid on the police station in September 2005.

Scavo and six other police and village employees were indicted in July 2007 as part of the alleged business scheme. Co-defendants on trial are former Deputy Chief Gary Montino, charged with racketeering conspiracy, and former part-time officer Michael Wynn, charged with mail fraud.

The defense will begin calling witnesses Tuesday in arguments expected to last one day.

NEWS: Killing of L.A. County Deputy Sparks Largest Gang Takedown in U.S. History

BEN BAEDER
San Gabriel Valley Tribune, West Covina, Calif.

A four-year gang investigation touched off by the killing of a sheriff's deputy from El Monte has culminated in "the largest gang takedown in United States history," federal officials said Thursday.

Members of a Hawaiian Gardens Latino street gang for years targeted deputies and waged a racist campaign to eliminate the city's black residents through attempted murders and other crimes, according to federal racketeering indictments unsealed Thursday.

Five indictments charged a total of 147 members and associates of the Varrio Hawaiian Gardens gang, and federal and local agencies arrested 63 of them by early Thursday, U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O'Brien said at a news conference.

Another 35 defendants were already in custody on unrelated charges. Weapons and drugs worth more than $1 million also were seized in what O'Brien called "the largest gang takedown in United States history."

The investigation of the gang began in June 2005 after the murder of Los Angeles County sheriff's Deputy Luis Gerardo "Jerry" Ortiz, who grew up in El Monte.

Jose Luis Orozco, a member of the gang, was sentenced to death in 2007 for the killing.

Orozco in 2005 shot and wounded a black man while he did yard work. Ortiz was investigating the shooting when Orozco shot and killed the 35-year-old while hiding behind a door. Orozco was found later hiding in a bathtub.

"It was this hatred of African-Americans that may have spurred the attack on Deputy Jerry Ortiz, who was killed trying to arrest a gang member suspected of trying to shoot an African-American man in the back," O'Brien said.

"The shock to El Monte was almost as bad as it was to the Sheriff's Department," El Monte Police Detective Kurt Timken said. "He was not only a terrific deputy, he was a terrific man. The family's got to be deriving some satisfaction from this."

The indictments detail attempted murder, kidnapping, firearms, narcotics and other charges related to attacks by the gang, which is predominantly Latino and mainly operates in Hawaiian Gardens, a city of about 15,000 in southeastern Los Angeles County.

"(Varrio Hawaiian Gardens) gang members take pride in their racism and often refer to the VHG Gang as the 'Hate Gang,"' the main indictment said. "VHG gang members have expressed a desire to rid the city of Hawaiian Gardens of all African-Americans and have engaged in a systematic effort to achieve that result by perpetrating crimes against African-Americans."

The indictment alleges a string of attacks on black residents, including a shooting into a home with eight people inside.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Friday, May 22, 2009

R.I.P.: Texas Border Agent Suffers Fatal Heart Attack


Officer.Com News

Border Patrol Agent Cruz McGuire suffered a fatal heart attack while on horse patrol on May 21, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page.

McGuire was tracking illegal immigrants along a trail near Del Rio, Texas. Other agents and medical personnel attempted to revive him but were unsuccessful.

He served with the Border Patrol for 25 years and had previously served with the Del Rio Police Department and Kinney County, Texas Sheriff's Office.

He is survived by his son, two daughters, parents, and three siblings.

SCAVO TRIAL: Prosecutors: Ex-police chief's security firm took in $3.4 million

May 21, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

Through extortion, lies or both, former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo convinced local businesses to pay more than $3.4 million for security from 1999 to 2006, according to prosecutors in Scavo's federal corruption trial.

Nearly 20 institutions -- including Kiddieland and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church -- were victims of Scavo's alleged scheme, prosecutors said.

Scavo was the sole shareholder of DOD Security Consultants, a company that referred businesses to hire security through IFPC Worldwide Inc. Between 2000 and 2006, these businesses paid more than $2.5 million to IFPC.

The prosecution charged that Scavo also operated DOD as a security company and lied about an affiliation with IFPC, which is licensed and insured. DOD is not licensed and insured.

Other names Scavo operated under were Able Security, Specialty Security and IFPC Specialty. Scavo only filed corporate taxes as DOD. Payments made to DOD, one of the other company names or to Scavo directly totaled more than $880,000 from 1999 to 2006.

Prosecutors relied on checks and invoices to calculate how much businesses paid IFPC and DOD. For businesses that paid in cash, the amount was based on testimony from bar owners and Scavo's bag man, who collected the cash payments.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

NEWS: Senate deals in video poker

--I think it will be very interesting to see how some of our towns react to this after what transpired about 10 years ago around here with these machines--
Duke

$26B CONSTRUCTION PLAN | Internet gambling also OKd to tackle 'decay'


May 21, 2009

BY DAVE MCKINNEY AND JORDAN WILSON Staff Reporters

SPRINGFIELD -- The state Senate overwhelmingly voted Wednesday to legalize video poker, boost liquor taxes and allow lottery wagering over the Internet to help support a $26 billion statewide construction package that is expected to reach Gov. Quinn's desk.

What would be the first public works program in a decade passed the Senate on a series of bipartisan roll calls and would, according to Sen. Kirk Dillard (R-Hinsdale), end a "decade of decay" that festered on the state's roads, bridges and public buildings under impeached ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

"The gridlock we've been going through for six years has ended," said Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago), who carried the package, which taps a combination of federal and state money.

The House still must sign off before it goes to Quinn, but Cullerton predicted House passage today.

To pay for it, senators voted 47-12 to legalize video poker in bars, restaurants, veterans halls and truck stops. The state will tax the machines at a 30 percent rate, raising $375 million annually.

Video poker, which would be overseen by the Illinois Gaming Board, attracted virtually no dissent during floor debate despite anti-gambling advocates insisting it will let organized crime flourish and lead to new cases of gambling addiction.

"This would be unregulated mayhem," said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, who has busted illegal video poker machine operations and has said his office receives calls from people whose spouses have lost their paychecks on the machines.

Joseph Berrios, a member of the Cook County Board of Review and father of state Rep. Maria Antonia Berrios (D-Chicago), was among those lobbying for video poker, on behalf of an industry trade group.

The construction package also will mean taxes on liquor will go up by $114 million cumulatively on Aug. 1. On a six-pack of beer, people will pay 2.6 cents more. For wine, it will be an extra 13 cents per bottle. For hard liquor, prices will rise 13 cents.

Also effective Aug. 1, candy, non-carbonated beverages and health and beauty products, which have not been subject to the state's 6.25 percent sales tax and instead taxed at only 1 percent, would no longer have that exemption. That step will generate $150 million.

The package includes big changes at the state lottery. A pilot program would be established in 2010 to allow lottery wagering over the Internet. Additionally, management of the lottery would be turned over to a private firm. Both moves are expected to raise $150 million annually.

Finally, Illinois motorists will collectively pay $331 million more a year. State vehicle registrations will jump $20. Driver's licenses will cost an added $20. And getting a vehicle title will increase $30.

"The revenue package is not ideal in everyone's mind," said Senate Minority Leader Christine Radogno (R-Lemont), who backed it. "But it's certainly real revenue. The way we got into trouble in this state is not paying for things we've bought or used."

On the spending side, more than $15 billion will go for road projects and $3 billion for school construction. Higher education, parks and museums also will get funds.

Opposition to the revenue side was made up largely of a handful of conservative Republicans and a pair of African-American lawmakers, including Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago), who characterized the package as a "white man's job bill."

Meeks has long contended that blacks and Hispanics are under-represented in labor unions, who figure to reap most of the "tens of thousands" of jobs Cullerton promised the capital plan would bring.

NEWS: FBI, Chicago Unveil 'BanditTracker' Web Site

NATASHA KORECKI
The Chicago Sun-Times

You don't have to tackle a robber, pass out wanted posters or even pick up a phone.

If you want to play a role in nabbing bank robbers in our area, all you have to do is go online.

The FBI's Violent Crimes Task Force made up of the FBI, Cook County sheriff's police and Chicago Police Department on Wednesday unveiled BanditTrackerChicago.com.

There, the public can view the latest photos -- some of which contain clear shots of offenders -- video and information about the record number of bank robberies hitting Chicago and its suburbs. Anonymous tips can be sent electronically.

FBI Chicago chief Robert Grant said the faster law enforcement can get out new information about a crime, "the better chance we have of getting dangerous people off the street."

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has dedicated 44 percent less manpower toward investigating bank robberies.

At the same time, bank robbery numbers continue to rise, and the violence behind them also has escalated.

The rate at which crimes are solved has dropped from 70 or 80 percent to about 50 percent today, Grant said.

With 87 robberies already this year, we're on pace in the Chicago area to set a new high after a record-breaking year in 2006.

Over the last several years, there has been an uptick of takeover style robberies, where bandits brandish a weapon and force bank employees and customers to the floor. There's a high potential for violence in these types of robberies, Grant said.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said the new Web site will aid investigators hit by shrinking budgets.

"It will be almost as if you're adding more officers with regard to bank robbers," Dart said.

Go to BanditTrackerChicago.com.

SCAVO TRIAL: Defining a threat and other tidbits from the Scavo trial

May 21, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

As the trial for former Melrose Park Police Chief Victor Scavo enters its sixth week, a reporter who has attended court every day notices nuances and picks up on conversations that aren't enough for a full story.

Here's some bits and pieces from the trial:
April 17

Steve Vogrin, the former general manager of Allied Waste Services' Melrose Park facility, said his company felt pressured to hire Scavo's security company during a workers' strike in 2003.

In his testimony, Vogrin described a meeting with Scavo in which they discussed security at Allied. The former chief was "agitated, angry, upset," Vogrin testified.

During the cross-examination, Scavo's attorney Todd Pugh asked Vogrin, "Did Chief Scavo make any threats?"

"No direct threats," Vogrin said.

A couple jurors chuckled.
April 20

Cinemark manager Mark Wolfe said the national theater chain hired Scavo's security company, even though the cost would be double that of their previous security firm. The prosecutor asked why Wolfe still agreed to hire Scavo's security.

"I was concerned that if the theater had a problem, the police department would not be as responsive," Wolfe said.

Scavo exhaled heavily and shook his head.
April 24

Restaurant owner Jesus Miguel Espinoza hired Scavo's security guards in 2003.

Espinoza secretly videotaped conversations with a security guard who worked for Scavo's company as part of the FBI investigation into Scavo's security businesses.

In the first few minutes of the cross-examination, Espinoza did not look at Tom Breen, Scavo's attorney. Instead, Espinoza looked to his right, at the jury.

A few questions in, Breen asked, "Why are you looking over there? Were you instructed to look at the jury?" It drew an immediate objection from prosecutor Scott Drury.

•****

Scavo told Espinoza to pay in cash at the police station every Monday, Espinoza testified. The prosecution asked what would happen if Espinoza was late on a payment.

"(Scavo) said, 'Don't make me come over and look for you,'" Espinoza testified.

During cross-examination, Breen returned to the statement Scavo allegedly made to Espinoza, asking if Scavo was laughing when he said this. He may have been, Espinoza said.

"(Scavo) was kidding, wasn't he?" Breen asked.

"He was laughing, but I don't know if he was joking," Espinoza said.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

R.I.P.: North Carolina Trooper Injured in 2007 Dies



MONTE MITCHELL
Winston-Salem Journal, N.C.

WILKESBORO, N.C. -- A state trooper from Wilkes County died Tuesday at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center after a medical procedure related to an on-duty injury from 2007, authorities said.

Kyle Barber, 46, was the 61st trooper to die in the line of duty since the Highway Patrol was formed in 1929.

He was injured on Jan. 20, 2007, when an all-terrain vehicle pinned him against a patrol car. He'd since had 10 surgeries.

"My thoughts and prayers are extended to Trooper Barber's family," Commander Walter Wilson said, in a statement. "The patrol is feeling the loss of one of our own, one who lost his life serving the citizens of the state."

Barber joined the Highway Patrol in May 1985. He leaves behind a wife, Lynn Barber, and three children.

When he was hit by the ATV in 2007, Barber suffered a compound fracture of the right femur, the large bone in the thigh. His right tibia, a lower leg bone, was also broken. He had surgery then to have a rod inserted in his leg.

The injury happened when Barber and another trooper were investigating a wreck involving two ATVs on White Plains Road, northeast of North Wilkesboro.

The other trooper told one of the men to push one of the four-wheelers off the road. But the man started it up, and it threw him off, roared up an embankment, then made an arc to where Barber was standing, pinning him against his patrol car.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

NEWS: Several articles posted

--Very busy news day today. Click on the article titles below for the individual news stories--
Duke

(Elmhurst) Help out a Cop on Top Friday

May 20, 2009
By JENNIFER ZIMMERMAN Staff Writer jzimmerman@pioneerlocal.com

Elmhurst Police Department will again be participating in the annual Cop on Top event this Friday...(cont'd)

CRIME: Oak Park residents confront thief

May 19, 2009
By CHRIS LAFORTUNE clafortune@pioneerlocal.com

Oak Park police believe a man who burglarized two apartments on the 1000 block of Pleasant Street while their residents were home is the same man involved in similar robberies on the 1100 block of Holley Court...(cont'd)

CRIME: 3 robberies, carjack in Oak Park aren't related, police say

May 19, 2009
By CHRIS LAFORTUNE clafortune@pioneerlocal.com

Police do not believe three robberies in Oak Park last week are connected, though they may sound similar...(cont'd)

UNION NEWS: Police union unhappy with release of officer

May 19, 2009
By CHRIS LAFORTUNE clafortune@pioneerlocal.com

River Forest announced it has lain off one of its police officers and eliminated a clerical staff position in its Public Works Department.

The release of the police officer has the village's police union displeased. This is the second officer laid off in the department, Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 46 President Justin Labriola said.

A police sergeant recently retired, and Labriola said he does not believe that position will be filled. That's three officers gone, he said, along with another three on medical or military leave.

A deputy chief position was also eliminated earlier in the year, the village reported.

Labriola wonders if the police are being targeted for cuts because they won in contract arbitration during their last negotiations. The union was awarded a 4 percent raise, Labriola said, and the village was offering 3.5 percent.

"A lot of these things started occurring, the layoffs, shortly after the arbitrator's decision," Labriola said.

That's led the union to consider its options.

"We're definitely going to explore the option of unfair labor practice," Labriola said Monday. "We've talked to the FOP attorney, and we're exploring that option now."

Village President John Rigas said he was not involved in the budget process, which took place before the new Village Board was seated, but he can say no one is being picked on unfairly.

"Everyone is getting the opportunity to participate in the budget cuts," Rigas said Tuesday. "From my understanding from discussions with Steve Gutierrez (village administrator) and everyone else, the discussion never has come around on arbitration or anything like that."

Areas throughout the village have been identified for cuts, Rigas said, and the village is trying to limit the effect on services.

"If you look at it, every team has participated in that," Rigas said.

In a release sent May 15, the village said six positions are being eliminated or left vacant at Village Hall. The 2009-10 budget includes a 4 percent reduction in expenditures, with costs coming out of every department.

The fire department union and its lieutenants took concessions to prevent layoffs, the village said in its release. Public works also took concessions to avoid further staff reductions, though a clerical position and maintenance crew leader position were eliminated.

The concessions the village wanted from the police union would have cost each officer $11,000 a year, Labriola said. Their last contract negotiation took 18 months to complete.

"We're going to end up having to sit back down at the negotiations table in December or January and start negotiating another contract," Labriola said.

The village has seen its economic woes coming for some time, Labriola said, but administration seems not to suffer. Gutierrez drives home a village-owned car, he said, and River Forest paid for an out-of-state attorney to negotiate with the police union.

"Steve Gutierrez is not trained to perform any of the functions we are," Labriola said. "Therefore, he really can't even help. Yet he has a car and people are getting laid off. To me, that doesn't make much sense."

In its release, the village said an assistant village manager position remains vacant.

Rigas said he did not know who negotiated the last police contract, but he did not believe an out-of-state attorney was involved.

"With regard to Steve's car, it's all part of what's standard for almost every village administrator or manager around, to have a car," Rigas said. "He's driving around all over the place all the time, going to meetings and what not."

The village often keeps cars several years, Rigas said, and once mileage reimbursement is taken into account, losing the car wouldn't save the village much.

"It certainly wouldn't come close to a police officer's salary or benefits," Rigas said.

Labriola also questioned the logic behind cutting a police officer while the economy is in a downturn, a time he expects crime rates will go up.

"We need as many people as possible," he said. "Now is not the time to be laying people off. Now is time to strengthen the police department."

In its release, the village reported a 9 percent decline in part-one criminal offenses in the first quarter of this year compared to 2008, a 14 percent decrease in part-two offenses.

NEWS: (Elmhurst) Officer injured after assault at Sears

May 20, 2009
By JENNIFER ZIMMERMAN Staff Writer jzimmerman@pioneerlocal.com

An Elmhurst police officer has been released from the hospital after being attacked by unruly customer at Sears Essentials May 14.

Donald R. Delgade, 47, of 3030 Broadway Ave., San Diego, Calif., was arrested and charged with aggravated battery to a police officer, aggravated assault and retail theft, said police Chief Steve Neubauer.

At 1:28 p.m., police responded to a call at Sears Essentials, 265 S. Route 83, regarding a man inside demanding a free bike. He started screaming and swearing at an officer, whose name was not released, telling the officer to shoot him.

"The gentleman was extremely upset and acting inappropriately," Neubauer said.

A taser was used but Delgade did not go down. He then attacked the officer, causing minor injuries, Neubauer said.

"This guy was just explosive," he said.

Delgade was taken into custody after a short struggle and transported to Elmhurst Hospital were he was later released and charged.

Police Blotters May 20, 2009

>>Franklin Park, Northlake<<

>>Bellwood, Berkeley, Maywood, Melrose Park<<

>>Elmhurst<<

>>Harwood Heights, Norridge<<

>>Oak Park<<

>>River Forest<<

SCAVO TRIAL: Chief deducted car he used for police and security work

May 19, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

Former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo deducted his $60,000 Cadillac Escalade and vehicle expenses on his business tax form -- even though the car was used for police work and the expenses were paid for by the village, the prosecution argued Tuesday in Scavo's federal corruption trial.

The former chief is charged with running private security companies out of the police station, using police property and on-duty personnel.

The prosecution also alleges Scavo did not report the cash that local businesses paid for security. Managers have testified Scavo preferred payments in cash over checks.

In 2003, the tax return for Scavo's business, DOD Security Consultant, showed revenues of more than $116,000. After deductions -- including the purchase of the Escalade -- Scavo's taxable income went down to $14,300.

Scavo told his accountant that he used the car for DOD business "100 percent" of the time, according to the testimony.

Prosecutors said Scavo used the car for police work as well. In fact, because Scavo did not drive a squad car, the village paid for Scavo's gas and car washes. But on his tax forms, Scavo deducted as much as $16,000 for vehicle expenses.

SCAVO TRIAL: Deputy chief billed theater for security work that he didn't do

May 19, 2009
By JOLIE LEE jlee@pioneerlocal.com

The right-hand man of former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo told federal investigators he billed a local movie theater for security work that was never performed, according to court testimony Monday.

Former Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino reportedly told federal investigators on Sept. 8, 2005, that he worked security and scheduled guards at Cinemark for IFPC Worldwide, Inc., a security company that paid commissions to Scavo for business referrals.

But Montino said he had not worked security at Cinemark for a year; however, his name still appeared on Cinemark security schedules, according to Monday's testimony.

IRS Special Agent Joe Guest testified he was one of two investigators who interviewed Montino the day the federal government executed a search warrant on the Melrose Park Police Station.

Montino is on trial with Scavo for allegedly operating private security companies out of the police station using on-duty cops and department resources.

Initially Montino told investigators he scheduled other people to fill in for him. He said he received a check from IFPC and paid the guards in cash, according to testimony.

But Montino declined to provide the identity of those guards, saying their paperwork may not be on file with IFPC, Guest said.

Investigators reminded Montino "more than once" that it was important to tell the truth, "especially in this line of questioning," Guest said.

Montino's story changed near the end of the interview, the prosecution said. The deputy chief admitted that no one had worked security during his shifts. Montino's justification for still billing Cinemark was that he did extra work scheduling the guards, Guest said.

The defense said the investigators had not allowed Montino to review the information in Guest's interview report. Also, in writing his report, Guest did not refer to notes by the other investigator, Scott Fitts.

Fitts is a name the defense has frequently spoken in court. Fitts signed the search warrant for the Melrose Park Police Station and is now facing criminal charges himself for allegedly extorting money from offenders he caught in a prostitution sting.

The defense has tried to show that the Melrose Park search was tainted because of Fitts. Prosecutors said Fitts' indictment is irrelevant to Scavo's trial. Earlier this month, Judge Joan Gottschall ruled that mentioning the allegations against Fitts should be limited.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

NEWS: Illinois Sheriff Accused of Dealing Drugs


--See!! Now this is why all departments need to allow secondary employment without the B/S that these bosses try to attach to it--
Duke

--Just kidding...I think--

The Associated Press

SHAWNEETOWN, Ill. --

Federal prosecutors are accusing the longtime sheriff of a county in southeastern Illinois of selling marijuana, often while on duty.

Gallatin County Sheriff Raymond Martin was arrested Monday and appeared in court on three counts of distributing marijuana and two counts of carrying a firearm while trafficking drugs.

Martin has been sheriff of Gallatin County since 1990.

The complaint accuses the 46-year-old sheriff of distributing more than 1,100 grams - more than two pounds - of marijuana between April 27 and May 11.

A woman who answered Martin's home phone Tuesday said the sheriff had no comment.

A judge appointed a federal public defender for Martin. A detention hearing is set for Wednesday.

NEWS: Economy Limiting Services of Police

--Police departments are actually closing--

KEVIN JOHNSON
USA TODAY

The recession is altering local law enforcement in the U.S. by forcing some agencies to close precincts, merge with other departments or even shut down.

Once largely spared from the deepest budget cuts, some police departments are struggling to provide basic services, police officials say.

"For the first time, because of the economy, police departments ... may have to change how they do business," says Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank. "People will see a change in the basic delivery of services," from longer police response times to a dramatically reduced police presence in some communities.

Harlan Johnson, executive director of the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association, said political leaders are "choosing whether they keep the streets open or the police on patrol," though it's too early to tell whether the changes will increase crime.

The Obama administration's $787 billion stimulus plan gives about $4 billion to local law enforcement, including $1 billion to hire and retain officers. But the hiring money has not been distributed, and applicants have requested more than is available.

Among the recent cuts:

*In Pennsylvania, 19 suburban and rural police agencies have closed in the past 15 months, and seven others have cut patrols. The "unprecedented" closures and cuts have forced the state police -- who face their own budget struggles -- to assume full or partial public safety responsibility for about 54,000 more people, says Lt. Col. Lenny Bandy, deputy commissioner of operations for the state police.

*In Minnesota, nine small police agencies have closed in the past five months, leaving sheriffs' departments to protect the public. The Elko New Market Police Department was briefly the 10th shuttered agency, until residents last month demanded that the City Council reverse its 2-week-old decision to eliminate it. "A lot of people felt that we were sending a potentially dangerous public message ... without a police department," says Mayor Jason Ponsonby, who opposed the closure.

*In Portland, Ore., police are consolidating operations by eliminating two of five patrol precincts. Portland police spokesman Greg Pashley says some residents fear response times will rise and established officers will be replaced by others who are unfamiliar with local problems. He says the move, which takes effect in June, was needed to cut costs, but he believes it will not compromise safety.

*In Southern California, Indio and its neighbors Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City and Beaumont have merged some key functions and also plan to combine dispatch operations to increase efficiency. "It's the legacy of the budget crunch," Indio's Capt. Richard Banasiak says.

NEWS: Mother-son duo charged in drive-by murder


"Karen Juarez (left) is charged along with her son, Delfino Juarez, in the drive-by murder of Jesus Sanchez Friday. The mother is accused of serving as the getaway driver in the incident, as well as hiding the van in a nearby garage."

--Is it just me, or is there something really twisted about this one? A mom driving her son to a drive-by?--Duke


May 19, 2009

FROM STNG WIRE REPORTS

A mother and son are scheduled to appear in court today after being charged in a killing last week. The son is accused of pulling the trigger, and the mom is charged with driving the getaway car and hiding evidence, police said.

Delfino Juarez, 18, is charged with first-degree murder. His mother, Karen Juarez, 49, is charged with obstruction of justice.

Delfino Juarez allegedly shot 18-year-old Jesus Sanchez Friday in the 2000 block of West Garfield after exchanging gang signs with him. Karen Juarez allegedly was driving the van that her son fired from, police said.

The Juarezes were arrested Sunday, according to police.

Investigators developed information that led them to the van, which was found parked in a garage, according to a law enforcement source.

About 11 a.m. Sunday, police arrested Delfino Juarez, and when police asked who was driving the van during the incident, he said it was his mother, according to the source.

After his mother was advised of her rights, she allegedly told police that her son needs a gun to protect himself against rival gang members. She also allegedly told police that after the incident, she hid the van in the garage and went back to the scene about 10 minutes later, using another vehicle, according to the source.