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ere the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:
Where the TRUTH starts. Public Pension Reform. Law Enforcement News. Officer Down News. Collective Bargaining. Corruption. - See more at:

Officer Down

Friday, July 31, 2009

My Pension Fight

So, as an update on the real reason this blog was started, my fight for pension reform for ALL police officers in the state, my case has been filed in the Chancery Division of Cook County. It is filed under case #2009-CH-18764. It is all public info and can be seen here (Click here)I cannot comment to much on the case obviously since it is an open court case.

I am still in the process of trying to settle with Workman's' Compensation but on a good note they have notified the Pension Board that they can now start paying me my 50% pension. For those that don't know I have not been receiving any money since May 15 so this is a good thing for my family.

I am still in the fight for everyone. I have not heard much by way of state officials but I figure with the budget issues, Blago, and a recess I would not hear much. Senator Harmon has provided me some information and I am staying on top of this issue. The petition is still active, if you have not signed it, I would appreciate if you did. Also get your friends and family to sign it. (Click here for petition) This issue will not resolve itself and pension boards like mine will not have the knowledge to make a proper decision and will follow the will of an attorney that has connections to the town. The issues need to be clarified so that proper decisions get made for all of us and our families.

Now that I will have some funds coming in I will be generating a letter to all state legislators and mailing it to them. I will keep posting any information as I have it.

Thanks for everyone's support, keep your heads down, and keep up the fight.



NEWS: 2 murders tied to change of gangs

COURT | Man denied bail in '08 killings

July 31, 2009


Edwin Figueroa was so intent on proving he left the Cobras, he helped kill two of its alleged members to prove his allegiance to his new gang, Cook County prosecutors said.

The Northwest Side man -- who goes by the name "TK," or "True Killer" -- was involved in last summer's murder of Alfonso Cintron, 33, and Mario Arteaga, 36 but is not believed to be the shooter, police sources said

Figueroa, 22, was ordered held without bail Thursday for the July 28, 2008, murders.

Figueroa and an uncharged man nicknamed "Smurf" wanted to switch from the Cobras street gang to the Young Latin Organization Disciples, Assistant State's Attorney George Canellis said. So, to show devotion to their new gang, the pair allegedly announced they would go out looking for Cobras to shoot.

The two, along with some other Disciples, were around the 4300 block of West Wrightwood when they noticed the two victims sitting in a Lincoln Continental, authorities said. That's when Cintron and Arteaga -- thought to be Cobras -- were shot.

Figueroa was charged after telling someone else he was involved, police said. He gave a videotaped statement this week saying he was present at the murders, authorities said.

Police said they have other suspects in the slaying but that they have not been charged.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NEWS: Georgia Officers Ran Background Check on Obama

--Now, really, how stupid can you be. Tell me these two guys did not know the Secret Service would get a flag immediately? I love the last line "It is unclear why they did it" Why the hell do you think they did it, they wanted to see what would happen.--


Two DeKalb County police officers have been placed on paid administrative leave after an investigation revealed they ran a background check on President Barack Obama.

A representative for the DeKalb County CEO’s office identified the officers as Ryan White and C.M. Route.

Officials said Obama’s name was typed into a computer inside a DeKalb County police car on July 20 and ran through the National Crime Information Center.

The secret service was immediately notified and contacted the DeKalb County Police Department.

A representative said both officers have been with the department less than five years.

A representative said one of the officers denied involvement.

An official investigation is being conducted by the DeKalb County Police Department’s Internal Affairs division.

It is unclear why the officers ran a check on the president.

NEWS: Broadview man charged with murder of Westchester man

July 27, 2009

A Broadview man was arrested Monday and charged with Saturday's shooting death of a Westchester man.

Austin Harmon, 18, of 2216 W. 14th Ave., was charged with first-degree murder.

London Clark, 20, was reportedly shot about 7 p.m. at Filmore Street and 22nd Avenue in Broadview.

Police were alerted to the incident after receiving a call at 7:01 p.m. Responding officers found Clark lying in the street at the location and was transported to Loyola University Medical Center. He died at 7:27 p.m.

Harmon is scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Police Blotters July 30, 2009

Click on the town your interested in

>>Northlake, Franklin Park<<

>>Bellwood, Maywood, Melrose Park<<


>>Elmwood Park, River Grove<<

>>Harwood Heights, Norridge<<

>>River Forest<<


MELROSE TRIALS: Ex-police supervisor guilty of conspiracy

Michael "Mickey" Caliendo, the ex-Melrose Park supervisor of part-time police, was found guilty July 24 of conspiracy and seven counts of mail fraud.
(Suzanne Tennant/Staff Photographer)
July 30, 2009

After a few hours of deliberation July 24 a jury found Michael "Mickey" Caliendo guilty on all charges.

Caliendo, former supervisor of part-time police officers with Melrose Park Police Department from 1995 to 2006, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and seven counts of mail fraud.

The verdict from the jury, which came about 2:30 p.m., was followed by loud outbursts and sighs from members of the audience who were related to the defendant.

This will be the second time Caliendo, 66, was found guilty on federal charges. He was indicted in 1980s on three counts of mail fraud for falsifying accident reports.

No sentencing date has been set for the current conviction, but federal court officials say it will take several months to set one.

Caliendo is the last official to either plead guilty or be convicted of corruption charges involving a security firm run out of the Melrose Park Police Department and led by ex-Police Chief Vito Scavo.

Caliendo was in charge of making sure part-time officers were sent to these various locations to work security. Sometimes part-time police officers and regular officers were paid twice: one for security and one as police officers.

Caliendo was even paid when he didn't show up for work or left his shift early to gamble at to area casinos, according to testimony.

Prior to the verdict, Caliendo's attorney, Arthur Engelland, said during his closing argument that his client had done nothing wrong and was a simple guy working seven days a week with no time to take a vacation.

"Caliendo was never part of anything," he said to the jury. "This man is a $9-an-hour guy and you want to make him equivalent to the chief of police."

He said if Caliendo were working at a grocery store he wouldn't be the district director or the manager. "He's the guy working like a clerk or the guy picking the buggies (shopping carts) up."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Drury said during rebuttal that Caliendo's role was much more than that.

"Caliendo is not just a guy pushing buggies," he said. "But he would be the lookout for the police in the parking lot while the grocery store is being robbed."

"You know who Mickey Caliendo is and you know what Mickey Caliendo is," Drury said loudly to the jury while pointing at Caliendo. "He's a thief, cheat and a liar."

"Crimes, cover-ups and confessions," he said to the jury. "That's what this case is all about. Return a verdict of guilty on all counts."

The jury found the evidence presented by the prosecution convincing enough to do just that.

Other Melrose Park Police Department officials who pleaded guilty or were convicted: Police Chief Vito Scavo, Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino, part-time police officer Michael Wynn, village code inspector German Cepeda, Deputy Police Chief James Caputo, and Police Commander Guy Ric Cervone.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009

NEWS: CPD gets new deadly force policy

--Give cops to much power? Is that even possible? Oh, wait, I get it...we're supposed to let them run us over then shoot 'em. Don't know what I was thinking.--

July 29, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- After this weekend, Chicago police are allowed to shoot at drivers or passengers fleeing the scene in cars in felony cases.

Roderick Drew, spokesman for the Chicago Police Department, told ABC7 the new deadly force policy was put in place by Police Supt. Jody Weis and will go into effect this weekend.

No details have been released and the Fraternal Order of Police told ABC7 it is also gathering information on the policy.

Supports of the policy say it will help protect officers; critics say it gives cops too much power.


A bond hearing was set for today but it was continued until August 5th at 9:30am. Like the defendants before him Mickey Caliendo has decided to have the forfeiture aspect of his case heard by the judge and not a jury. All post trial motions are due in by August 4th.
Any new developments will be reported.


NEWS: The State of American Law Enforcement, Chapter 11: Gangster Nation

--Long, but good reading--
Big city street gangs have taken root in small town America, bringing mayhem to Main Street.
by David Griffith From Police Magazine

Ride around the streets of Salisbury, a historic North Carolina town about halfway between Charlotte and Greensboro in the rolling hills of the Piedmont, and you will see some graffiti that looks way out of place.

Gangs in this small Southern city some 2,500 miles from South Central Los Angeles and 500 miles from Brooklyn have splattered once pristine walls with messages pledging their allegiance to the Eight Trey Gangster Crips of L.A. and the Nine Trey Gangsters of New York City's United Blood Nation.

Salisbury Police Department gang investigator Det. Todd Sides says the local thugs that claim affiliation with big city street gangs probably have a very tenuous connection back to those gangs and they aren't involved in red vs. blue warfare. "Here the violence is between the guys on the east side of town vs. the guys on the west side of town, not Crips vs. Bloods," Sides says as he points out the letters "ESP" for "East Side Pride" sprayed on a stop sign.

Regardless of the reason for the beefs between local gangs, they are no less deadly than any other gang battles. "We had never had a juvenile kill another juvenile in this city, until last year," Sides says.

That incident last May shook the city.

A party resulted in a gang fight between crews representing the east side vs. crews representing the west side, and a 13-year-old girl named Treasure Feamster had the misfortune of being the innocent bystander. Feamster was killed by a stray round.

Salisbury is not alone in its pain. Small towns all over America, far from the mean streets of New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, are now being plagued by gangs.

How places like Salisbury, Rogers, Ark., Hazleton, Pa., Iowa farm communities, and thousands of other communities, towns, suburbs, and small cities became gang turf is a complex story of money trails, family relationships, American and international migration patterns, and cultural influences. But it can be easily boiled down to some basic root causes.

Chasing Profit

There's money to be made in small towns. Gangs are all about money. So if a town doesn't have a drug distribution network, a gang will step in and provide one.

Ironically, one of the reasons why a town sometimes has an opening for a gang to establish a drug distribution network is that law enforcement has been doing its job.

Det. Tony Verna of the Lebanon (Pa.) Police Department believes this phenomenon played a role in giving gangs a leg up in the local drug market. "Some of the people who were established before, we were lucky enough to build a case against them and they are now serving some time. So that freed up things for the gang members."

In most cases, gangs discover these markets purely by chance. A member will move to a small town and discover that there's money to be made and then cut a deal with his homies back in the city. The profit margin is especially high for L.A. gangs who sell drugs in the East because drugs are so much cheaper in Los Angeles.

"It's not like the whole gang has to move to North Carolina," explains retired Los Angeles Sheriff's Department gang investigator Richard Valdemar. "One member of the gang goes to, say, Charlotte and calls his homies and tells them how much money he can make for them if they send him some drugs. That entrenches the gang in another city."

Once the gang infests that new city, its tentacles are also likely to reach out to suburbs and surrounding rural areas. For example, Sides says that one of the more active former L.A.-based gang members in his jurisdiction came to Salisbury via the much larger North Carolina city of Greensboro.

Organized Crime

Most gang investigators say that it's rare for a gang in a big city to actually plan to take over the gang trade in a smaller city or town. Still, it can happen.

Valdemar says he helped investigate a 2003 case in which the Mexican Mafia plotted to seize the drug market of Oklahoma City. "A crew of eight guys was sent there by the Mexican Mafia, and they took over the Oklahoma City drug market, brought all the local dealers under their control, and indoctrinated them as Sureños (gang members loyal to the Mexican Mafia)."

Obviously, Oklahoma City is not a small town. But Valdemar says he wouldn't be surprised if the Mexican Mafia and other powerful prison gangs were behind some of the spread of gangs into smaller cities and even towns.

And there is some evidence that he may be right. Sides says that last year one of the workers laboring on a hospital expansion project in Salisbury tagged the roof with "Sur 13." (The number 13 is gang code for Mexican Mafia.) Also, officers in Rogers, Ark., have discovered that local Sureño gangs are in contact with veteran Sureños in Los Angeles via MySpace.

Leaving the Homies

Despite suspicions that some gangsters move to small towns on the orders of prison gangs or big city shotcallers, the truth is that most move out of the city for two reasons: heat from police and rival gangs and pressure from parents.

"They are really being hit in the big cities [by police crackdowns] so they see smaller towns as places they can operate with less interference," says Steve Edmunds, a gang specialist with the Iowa Department of Corrections.

The other reason gang members are moving into "Mayberry" is that Mom and Dad think that getting them out of the city will get them out of the gang. It's a good theory.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Valdemar says he has seen every ethnic group try this desperate solution, and it usually results in Junior establishing his big city gang on the streets of his new town.

Officer Jon Smith of the Rogers (Ark.) Police Department agrees. "It's sad because the families actually have good intent," he says. "But the kid is already indoctrinated in gang life."

California Prestige

Another problem that arises when a gang member moves from the big city into a small town is that he can live large on his reputation, or at least the reputation of his gang. This is particularly true if he is from California.

Rogers PD gang investigator Cpl. Craig Renfroe says that California gang members moving into his jurisdiction gain instant status. "He may be a little fish in a really big pond in California, but when he comes here, he's a big fish."

Rogers is a town of 50,000 in the northwest corner of Arkansas, and it has benefited greatly from Wal-Mart's national headquarters in nearby Bentonville and Tyson Foods in neighboring Springdale. Laborers have flocked to the area to work in construction and in the food plants, many of them Hispanic people—legal and illegal—from California.

About five years ago the city started to have a problem with street gangs. "We now have three gangs with ties to Sureños," says Officer Smith.

Smith believes the gangs were not imported from California so much as the gang culture itself. "A lot of the gangs we have here were started locally," he explains. "But they were started by kids whose brothers, parents, and uncles were in gangs in California."

Gangster Chic

Of course, one bad kid from California can't just move into a small town and conjure up a gang out of the dust. The truth is that when he arrives, he usually has a very receptive audience. A lot of kids want to be gangsters.

Every gang investigator contacted for this article said the influence of rap music, TV, movies, and magazines glorifying the gangster lifestyle is pervasive and dangerous.

"'Gangster' is one of the most searched words on the Internet," says Lou Savelli, a retired New York City gang investigator. "Kids want to be gangsters; they want the money, the girls, and the cars that they see in the rap videos."


The phenomenon of kids wanting to be gang members can lead to some interesting groups claiming a gang affiliation that might raise some eyebrows and some ire from hardcore members of that gang. For example, white kids in suburban Long Island communities say they are Crips, despite the fact that the gang has an almost 100-percent African-American membership. Savelli says that he's also seen white kids in greater Boston claiming to be Latin Kings and Bloods.

One problem that cops in these and other areas have with such unusual affiliations by local kids is that it makes the kids look like "wannabes" in the eyes of city leaders.

Salisbury PD's Sides says you can call many of the local gang members "wannabes" if you want but that doesn't mean they shouldn't be taken seriously. "Wannabes are dangerous," he argues. "They will shoot you. They will kill you. And they have no concern about the repercussions."

New Haven, Conn., gang investigator Orlando Crespo agrees. "There's no such thing as wannabes; they're 'gonnabes.' They are the most dangerous guys around because they have something to prove."

Graduation Day

In many cases, a small town gang member graduates from wannabe status to hardcore gangbanger the day he gets sentenced to state prison. And he may not enjoy the change in status.

"This guy may have just joined the gang for the status but when he lands in prison, he's going to get the crap kicked out of him by hardcore gang members who represent that gang. Or they may tell him that he really has to represent by kneecapping some guy or beating him," says Iowa prison gang specialist Edmunds. "It's not going to be pleasant for him."

Former Rapid City, S.D., Chief of Detectives Christopher Grant agrees, but he adds that eventually it's likely that hardcore gangsters in prison will accept a small town gang member if he can prove his loyalty. "Your average Crip or Blood in prison doesn't care who claims to be in the gang as long as he's representing properly, as long as he knows that guy has his back."

The Damage Done

Gang members are attracted to small towns for a variety of reasons. But the primary reason is that they can do what they do with less scrutiny and less harassment from the men and women of law enforcement.

"In small towns, it's there for the taking," says Jeffrey Stoleson, former Midwest representative of the National Latino Gang Investigator's Association. "Everything they do in the big cities, they can do here. It's a little more secret here, and they can get away with it a lot easier."

In small towns, gangs can sling drugs, warehouse weapons, and run robbery crews, and it may take a while for local law enforcement to catch on because they may not be familiar with the gang. And even if local law enforcement is up to speed and wants to crack down on them, they may be hamstrung by a lack of political will by local leaders.

The result has been a lot more victims of gang crime nationwide. Experts say the crime rate, particularly the violent crime rate, is rising in small towns and gangs are responsible. Sides and his colleagues in the Salisbury PD say gangs are responsible for 60 percent of violent crime in the city.

Other small towns dealing with gangs are seeing similar numbers. And little wonder, according to Valdemar. "Gang members make up less than five percent of the population, but they are responsible for as much as 70 percent of crime," he says.

Fighting Back

Combating gangs in small towns isn't much different than battling them in big cities, except for one major difference: Resources.

Retired LASD gang investigator Wes McBride believes that the biggest problem small agencies face when gangs move into their towns is that they rarely have the money to pay for education and training for their officers. "Without that training, it's hard to recognize what you are seeing," he explains.

Once officers have the training and know what they are dealing with, their next big problem is that they need the green light from local government before they can go public and really take the fight to the gangs. Most city leaders are reluctant to admit they have a gang problem.

However, their attitude usually changes when there is a sensational incident, what McBride refers to as a "bloodbath one weekend." When that happens the local government admits the problem and police are ordered to fight back.

The fight takes two forms. The first is to crack down on the gangs with street operations, building cases against them, and prosecuting them. The second is to deprive them of future members through school and community programs designed to keep kids out of gangs.

Cracking Down

There is no nationwide protocol for identifying who is a gang member; each state has its own. For example, some states will allow law enforcement to classify a person as a gang member on the basis of self-admittance such as tattoos and statements of gang loyalty on MySpace. Others require officers to prove that a self-professed gang member is actually in a gang. That puts them behind the eight ball in terms of enforcement strategies.

Another hurdle that gang investigators must overcome in both big cities and small towns is that many gang crimes are not reported. No-snitching campaigns pressure civilians who have been robbed, raped, or beaten to stay quiet. And gang members rarely cooperate with police even when they have been viciously attacked by their rivals. Sides says the gang code of silence can be frustrating for Salisbury detectives: "This boy had his arm blown off by a shotgun blast, and he won't tell us who did it. That makes it really hard to make a case."

One way that small town gang investigators overcome this problem is by using the very nature of small towns against the gangsters. In a small town, there is less anonymity, people know their neighbors. And this makes it easier for small town gang investigators to track the worst of the worst. "These guys are starting to understand that we know who they are; we know who they run with; and when things happen, we know where to find them," says Det. Christopher Orozco of the Hazleton (Pa.) Police Department.

Orozco is a street crime coordinator attached to a gang task force organized by the Scranton FBI office, and he knows by experience that one of the best tools small town law enforcement can wield against gangs is to build a federal case against them. "Some of the career offenders are looking at serious time without parole when we make federal cases. They are scared of federal charges," he says.

The fear of federal time can be used to get even hardcore gangsters who say they will never snitch to rollover on their homies. "I can't tell you how many people have told me, 'I swore I would never do this. But let me talk to you,'" Orozco says with a laugh.

"At that point it's no longer 'snitching' in their mind," adds Sides. "It's helping themselves out."

Reaching Them Young

Sides says the youngest gang member he has seen in Salisbury is nine years old. So he believes it's critical to reach these guys at an early age through school programs.

Salisbury has a pretty active Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program in the local schools. It also has a Project Safe Streets Program that tries to educate the parents about what their kids may be getting into.

"You really need to focus on the parents if you want to see results," Sides says. "You need to teach them how to raise their kids up right."

Salisbury has established a family day program that gives parents school supplies for their kids and a free lunch if they sit through gang awareness seminars. For some of the city's poorer residents, which include parents of some of the most at-risk kids, this is an attractive offer.

A Growing Storm

"A lot of these kids are in gangs because Mom and Dad aren't working and they have no money," Sides says, and he worries what will happen now that the economy is stalling and job cutbacks are sure to follow.

New Haven's Crespo shares that same worry. "The gang situation is going to get a lot worse in our communities," he says.

Valdemar says he saw this coming back when he was on the job, but he didn't see its magnitude. "We really have a flood now," he says. "Before it was a trickle, and myself and some other guys had our fingers in the dike. I don't know what will stop it now."

For small town law enforcement, the rise of gangs on their streets means that their jobs have just gotten a lot tougher and a lot more dangerous. And the violence is just beginning.

NEWS: Shootings wound at least 15 overnight

--This had to make for a long night for the boys and girls in blue. Hope it gets better at some point.--

July 29, 2009 4:43 AM

At least 15 people were wounded in shootings on the South and West Sides Tuesday night and early this morning, according to police.

The attacks included the shooting of seven people in the East Garfield Park neighborhood, the shooting of two people in the Little Village neighborhood and the shooting of a carjacking victim on the South Side.

At least five people were wounded in other shootings, according to police.
Among the attacks, according to police incident notifications:

• A woman was standing on the sidewalk in the 6300 block of South Martin Luther King Drive when she heard shots fired and found herself wounded in the right calf about 9:40 p.m. Tuesday;

• A man was shot in the ankle during a robbery in the 100 block of North LaPorte Avenue about 9:50 p.m. Tuesday. He was in stable condition at Loretto Hospital.

• A man was wounded about 11:20 p.m. as he was sitting outside in the 4200 block of South Wells Street when two men began shooting. He was in stable condition at Provident Hospital.

• A man was walking on the street in the 10700 block of South Champlain Avenue about 11:50 p.m. Tuesday when someone fired a gun from a passing vehicle, hitting him in his right side. He was in good condition at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn.

• A man was shot in the 7200 block of South Cornell Avenue about 2:20 a.m. and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital with a gunshot wound to the chest. His condition was stabilized.

Police were releasing no further details on the incidents this morning.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

NEWS: Otty Sanchez, Woman Accused Of Killing Newborn, Ate Brain: Police

--OK, this is totally nuts. This was her own kid, and the devil made her do this. All I can say is unfrickenbelievable--

SAN ANTONIO — The scene was so gruesome investigators could barely speak: A 3 1/2-week-old boy lay dismembered in the bedroom of a single-story house, three of his tiny toes chewed off, his face torn away, his head severed and his brains ripped out.

"At this particular scene you could have heard a pin drop," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said Monday. "No one was speaking. It was about as somber as it could have been."

Officers called to the home early Sunday found the boy's mother, Otty Sanchez, sitting on the couch with a self-inflicted wound to her chest and her throat partially slashed, screaming "I killed my baby! I killed my baby!" police said. She told officers the devil made her do it, police said.

Sanchez, 33, apparently ate the child's brain and some other body parts before stabbing herself, McManus said.

"It's too heinous for me to describe it any further," McManus told reporters.

Sanchez is charged with capital murder in the death of her son, Scott Wesley Buccholtz-Sanchez. She was being treated Monday at a hospital, and was being held on $1 million bail.

The slaying occurred a week after the child's father moved out, McManus said. Otty Sanchez's sister and her sister's two children, ages 5 and 7, were in the house, but none were harmed.

Police said Sanchez did not have an attorney, and they declined to identify family members.

No one answered the door Monday at Sanchez's home, where the blinds were shut. A hopscotch pattern and red hearts were drawn on the walk leading up to the house.

Sanchez's aunt, Gloria Sanchez, said her niece had been "in and out" of a psychiatric ward but did not say where she was treated or why. She said a hospital called several months ago to check up on her.

"Otty didn't mean to do that. She was not in her right mind," a sobbing Gloria Sanchez told The Associated Press on Monday by phone. She said her family was devastated.

Investigators are looking into Sanchez's mental health history to see if there was anything "significant," and whether postpartum difficulties could have factored into the attack, McManus said.

Postpartum depression and psychosis have been cited as contributing factors in several other cases in Texas in recent years in which mothers killed their children.

Andrea Yates drowned her five children in her Houston-area home 2001, saying she believed Satan was inside her and trying to save them from hell. Her attorneys said she had been suffering from severe postpartum psychosis, and a jury found Yates not guilty by reason of insanity in 2006.

In 2004, Dena Schlosser killed her 10-month-old in her Plano home by slicing off the baby's arms. She was found not guilty of reason by insanity, after testifying that she killed the baby because she wanted to give her to God.

Sanchez's neighbors expressed sorrow and horror Monday at the grisly killing.

Neighbor Luis Yanez, 23, said his kids went to school with one of the small children who lived at the house. He said he often saw a woman playing outside with the children but didn't know whether it was Otty.

"Why would you do that to your baby?" said Yanez, a tire technician. "It brings chills to you. They can't defend themselves."

Allen Taylor, another neighbor, said "once she gets back in her right mind, she's going to be devastated."

Monday, July 27, 2009

NEWS: Is Illinois the most corrupt state?

--Just imagine if they ever really took the time to investigate some of the smaller towns and the shots the mayors and police and fire chiefs pull. We would be number 1 in the world--
44 ARRESTS? | Based on FBI resources, late-night TV, Illinois has no rivals
BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter
Hey, back off, New Jersey.

Just as Illinois basks in the shameful glow of its most-corrupt reputation, the Garden State wants to one-up us.

Sure, we've had two consecutive governors, an army of alderman and a posse of political fund-raisers under indictment -- not to mention two current members of Congress facing ethics inquiries.

But in New Jersey last week, 44 people, including three mayors, two state lawmakers and a slew of rabbis were rounded up in a corruption scheme replete with allegations of organ sales, $97,000 stuffed into a cereal box and plenty of good, old-fashioned bribes.

There were so many arrestees, the FBI had to herd them onto a bus.

Well, New Jersey may be trying to outshine us, but if the sleaze factor is gauged by FBI resources, Chicago isn't slipping.

With 42 agents, the Windy City outpaces New York and Los Angeles and is second in the nation only to Washington, D.C., in the number of FBI agents investigating public corruption. As for Newark, N.J., it has one-third fewer corruption agents than Chicago, according to the FBI.

And perhaps it was the Land of Lincoln that helped the New Jersey FBI chief hone his skills. Weysan Dun headed up the Springfield FBI office before moving to Newark.

Why are there so many corruption agents in Chicago?

"We have a lot of work," Chicago's FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert Grant told the Chicago Sun-Times. "We've made it a priority to try and have an impact on what has been a historical problem in this state and this city. We're trying to have a significant impact on the way things are done."

Grant is the special agent who, in announcing the corruption charges against since-ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich last December, told the world that if Illinois "isn't the most corrupt state in the United States, it is one hell of a competitor."

So far, the impact of his office's work has been slow in coming, he said.

"I keep seeing the same kind of crime," Grant said. "There's a casual acceptance of corruption in Chicago. It's significant here, it has always been significant here. I don't just mean politicians. I mean business people. There's a culture in this state that believes the only way to do business is to delve into the corrupt areas."

The true test will be whether real reform becomes an issue in the next major statewide election, Grant said.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, said that might just happen, at least with Chicago voters.

Sure, Chicagoans have long felt a sort of twisted pride over the sordid shenanigans of their politicos. But bad economic times have brought out a new kind of public fury, he said.

"The level of anger, frustration and hopelessness is deeper than I've ever seen," Shaw said.

As far as the race to the bottom, Jersey has a way to go, Shaw said.

Sinking to the level of a nationwide disgrace can only be achieved through the portal of late-night TV, he said. Blagojevich's media blitz, which ranged from David Letterman to hosting local radio, "has ensured we've remained a national laughingstock," Shaw said.


R.I.P.: Colorado Officer Killed in Shooting

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A witness said he heard about 12 shots in five seconds during a shooting in Montrose late Saturday night that killed a police officer and injured two others.

Sheriff's deputies and police were called to a domestic dispute at 16915 64.50 Road around 8:30 p.m., said police Chief Tom Chinn.

Police started talking to the person who reported the incident. That's when a man who barricaded himself in a garage behind the home started shooting at police, Chinn said in a news release.

Officers Larry Witte and Rodney Ragsdale were injured and taken to Montrose Memorial Hospital. Sgt. David Kinterknecht, a 10-year veteran, was hit and killed, Chinn said.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported an officer could be heard on a police scanner desperately calling for backup and saying three people "were down."

Witte and Ragsdale were hospitalized after being shot in the legs. Chinn said both had surgery and were doing well.

The suspect was killed at the scene; Chinn said it had not yet been determined whether the man shot himself or was killed by police and sheriff's deputies.

Police have not released the man's name.

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation is looking into the shooting.

The shooting happened near the Cobble Creek Golf Course in a relatively affluent area of Montrose.

Montrose is about 260 miles from Denver in western Colorado.

R.I.P.: Two Oklahoma Deputies Fatally Shot

The Oklahoman, Oklahoma City

SEMINOLE, Okla. -- Two Seminole County deputies were killed and a woman was wounded when a man opened fire while deputies were trying to serve an arrest warrant at a Seminole residence Sunday, authorities said.

Ezekiel Holbert, 26, was jailed on murder complaints, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said.

Holbert was in his mother's home, 503 N Second St., about 3 p.m. when she called authorities, Brown said.

"She found out he was inside. He was not welcome, so she called Seminole County deputies," Brown said. "When they knocked on the door, the suspect came out, Mr. Holbert, firing a weapon."

Brown said they don't know what kind of a weapon was used.

Two deputies died, Brown said.

One died at the scene and the other at OU Medical Center.

A woman walking along the street was hit by stray gunfire, Brown said.

The woman was identified by her brother-in-law as Jennifer Bowen. He said the bullet went through her arm and into her chest. He said she was flown to OU Medical Center, but her condition was not known Sunday night.

The names of the deputies were not released Sunday night.

Deputies were serving a warrant issued in May for a charge of domestic assault and battery by strangulation.

Bryan Hause said he was next door when the shooting occurred.

"They said, 'You got two seconds to open the door,' and they kicked the door in," Hause said.

Terry Bowen said he was standing on his back porch a couple of houses away when the shooting began.

"We all thought it was firecrackers," he said.

He said Jennifer Bowen was walking down the street with her two daughters when a law enforcement official ran past.

A short while later, she was hit.

"Next thing you know, she spins around yelling 'Ow ow ow ow ow ow,'" Terry Bowen said. "My little 2-year-old niece comes running to me ... and she said 'something's wrong with Mommy.'"

Police then began evacuating nearby houses.

Terry Bowen said he's angry about how the situation was handled.

"They jerked my little sister down the stairs and cut her arm," he said. "She couldn't walk down the steps. They don't need to get in that big of a hurry. They come to serve a warrant doing their job, and he goes and fires on them. Yeah, I understand. But, you know, they could have had the courage enough to tell everybody to stay in the house, or at least holler over here at her (Jennifer) and tell her to back up."

Several law agencies were called in to assist in the search. Neighborhood streets were lined with police vehicles.

About 7 p.m. the Oklahoma Highway Patrol used a robot with an audio speaker to enter the house where the shootings had occurred.

"Through a PA system on that robot, tactical units announced their presence and required the suspect to come out and surrender," patrol Lt. George Brown said.

The suspect surrendered without incident.

Holbert was jailed in Seminole County on murder complaints.

Jean Fowler, who lives in a nearby apartment complex, said police searched all the apartments in her building.

"They checked it and they were very professional," she said.

"They tried their best not to scare anybody, but they were thorough."

NEWS: 'Ride to Remember' honors fallen police officers

--I would like to add my personal thanks to all those that participated in this ride--

July 26, 2009 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- A memorial motorcycle ride took place Sunday morning to remember fallen Chicago police officers.

Police Supt. Jody Weis took part in the fifth annual Ride to Remember, which started at Area 4 Police Headquarters at Harrison and Kedzie and ended at the police memorial park near Solider Field.

Hundreds of other people participated, as well.
Proceeds benefit the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, an organization that provides support and assistance to the families of Chicago officers killed or seriously injured in the line of duty.

GENERAL: Police Report on Gates Arrest

--Here is the actual police report on the incident that has gained so much attention the president saw fit to comment--

Download here >>Gates Report<<


NEWS: (Interesting Stuff) Mob war on horizon in Las Vegas?

Momo's daughter will fight mayor in museum battle
Chuck Goudie, Ann Pistone
July 27, 2009 (LAS VEGAS) (WLS) -- In one corner is the 74-year old daughter of legendary Chicago Outfit boss Sam "Momo" Giancana whose turf once included Sin City.

In the other corner is the beefy mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, who was once the defense lawyer for the Chicago Mob's top emissary in Vegas.

At stake are future tourist dollars once Goodman and Antoinette "Mafia Princess" Giancana open competing crime syndicate museums.

According to "Vegas Confidential" columnist Norm Clarke, Ms. Giancana "was in Las Vegas over the weekend for meetings with backers of the museum, which is planned for a Strip location. It would compete with a $50 million downtown mob museum being pushed by Mayor Oscar Goodman. She's partnering with local investors Jay Bloom and Charlie Sandefur, who reportedly are in negotiations with Strip properties for their venue."

The quirky Giancana, who wrote a book about growing up as the daughter of a Chicago Outfit boss, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that "There would be tremendous foot traffic. I think it's going to be dynamite" she said. Her father was cut down by mob bullets in 1975 as he cooked a late-night snack in his Oak Park basement apartment.

Ms. Giancana claims to be moving to Las Vegas this summer to personally oversee the project. Clarke reports that "Giancana arrived with two beefy bodyguards for a business dinner Saturday at Capo's on West Sahara Avenue. She has asked Capo's owner Nico Santucci, a Chicago native, to design the Giancana room for the exhibit, which will include the same furniture that was in the family home the night her father was killed while frying Italian sausage and peppers."

The exhibit is "going to be a first," Giancana said. Bloom, she said, is "bringing in millions of dollars (worth of stuff) from various different (crime) families that have never, ever been seen" by the public.

Mobologists believe that Chicagoan Anthony "Ant" Spilotro whacked her father in the June twilight 34-years ago. Spilotro became the Outfit's top guy in Las Vegas. The Ant's numerous criminal cases were deftly handled by smooth-talking defense lawyer Oscar Goodman. Long after Spilotro himself was murdered and buried in an Indiana cornfield with his slain brother, Mr. Goodman was elected mayor of Las Vegas.

One of Mayor Goodman's top priorities has been a mob museum, now under construction near his city hall office. The $50 million tourist attraction could open as early as next year.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

R.I.P.: Border Patrol Agent Killed in Shootout

Associated Press writers

CHULA VISTA, Calif. --

Police in Mexico have announced the arrests of four men in connection to the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent as their counterparts in the United States search hospitals for suspects possibly wounded in the first such shooting in more than a decade.

The men detained in Mexico are allegedly part of an immigrant smuggling ring, and 21 people were found with them when police detained them and seized four guns near Tecate, Mexico, said Elias Alvarez Hernandez, coordinator of federal police in Baja California state.

During a news conference Saturday, Mexico police did not say what evidence they had against the four, whom they identified as Jose Quintero Ruiz, 43, and his brother Jose Eugenio Quintero Ruiz, 49, and taxi drivers Jose Alfredo Camacho, 34 and Antonio Valladares, 57.

Agent Robert Rosas was killed Thursday while responding alone to a suspected border incursion near Campo, a town in rugged, arid terrain in southeastern San Diego County. He was shot in the head and body and was dead when other agents arrived, said Keith Slotter, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Diego bureau.

Alvarez said that one of the suspects told police that a man detained Friday with a handgun had shot Rosas. Tecate police said Friday they had arrested 36-year-old Ernesto Parra Valenzuela near the crime scene with a Border Patrol-issued weapon after the shooting, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The man, who was injured, was taken to a hospital, according to a news release. Federal investigators have said they notified hospitals on both sides of the border to be on alert for patients with suspicious or unexplained injuries.

Investigators have said blood evidence at the scene indicated at least one culprit and possibly others had serious injuries, perhaps by gunfire. They didn't know how many shots were fired, if Rosas fired any shots himself, or how many guns were used.

But FBI spokesman Darrell Foxworth told The Associated Press in an e-mail late Saturday that he could not confirm or comment on any arrest reports. The bureau did not return calls left throughout the day.

American officials have expressed concerns that the drug cartel battles plaguing Mexico could spill into the United States with the targeting of U.S. law enforcement officials. Slotter said investigators aren't ruling out the possibility that Rosas was slain by drug smugglers or even human smugglers.

Arturo Sarukhan, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, said Mexican law enforcement agencies are cooperating in the case.

"This is a tragic example of the violence we keep facing at our common border as President (Felipe) Calderon continues to roll back transnational organized crime, and underscores the need for both our countries to keep working as full partners to guarantee the safety and security of those living on both sides of our border communities," Sarukhan said in a written statement Saturday.

Rosas was the first Border Patrol agent to die in a shooting in more than a decade, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page Inc., which tracks fallen officers using information provided by law enforcement agencies. Another agent, Luis Aguilar, was intentionally run over by a fleeing man driving a drug-laden Hummer in January 2008.

Rosas, a three-year Border Patrol veteran, had a 2-year-old son and an 11-month-old daughter, said Richard Barlow, acting chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol's San Diego sector.

Authorities could not confirm reports that he called for backup and then went ahead before anyone arrived, but said it isn't unusual for agents to work alone along the border.

Since 1919, 108 Border Patrol agents have died on duty, according to The Officer Down Memorial Page. Gunfire was the leading cause with 30 deaths, followed by automobile accidents and aircraft accidents.

The FBI is offering a $100,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the killer or killers.

MELROSE TRIALS: Former Melrose Park police supervisor guilty of conspiracy

--I know I already posted the story but this is the Herald story on the conviction.--

July 24, 2009
By David Pollard

After a few hours of deliberation Friday afternoon a jury found Michael “Mickey” Caliendo guilty on all charges.

Caliendo, former supervisor of part-time police officers with Melrose Park Police Department from 1995 to 2006, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and seven counts of mail fraud.

The verdict from the jury, which came about 2:30 p.m., was followed by loud outbursts and sighs from members of the audience related to the defendant.

This will be the second time Caliendo, 66, was found guilty on federal charges. He was indicted in 1980s on three counts of mail fraud after falsifying accident reports.

No sentencing date has been set for the current conviction, but federal court officials say it will take several months to set one.

Caliendo is the last official to either plead guilty or be convicted of corruption charges involving a security firm run out of the Melrose Park Police Department, led by ex-Police Chief Vito Scavo.

Caliendo was in charge of making sure part-time officers were sent to these various locations to work security. Sometimes part-time police officers and regular officers were paid twice: one for security and one as police officers. Caliendo was even paid when he didn't show up for work or left his shift early to gamble at to area casinos.

Prior to the verdict, Caliendo's attorney, Arthur Engelland, said during his closing argument that his client had done nothing wrong and was a simple guy working seven days a week with no time to take a vacation.

“Caliendo was never part of anything,” he said to the jury. “This man is a $9-an-hour guy and you want to make him equivalent to the chief of police.”

He said if Caliendo were working at a grocery store he wouldn't be the district director or the manager, trying to describe Caliendo's role in what had been going on at the police department. “He's the guy working like a clerk or the guy picking the buggies (shopping carts) up.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Drury said during rebuttal that Caliendo's role was much more than that. “Caliendo is not just a guy pushing buggies,” he said. “But he would be the lookout for the police in the parking lot while the grocery store is being robbed.”

“You know who Mickey Caliendo and you know what Mickey Caliendo is,” Drury said loudly to the jury while pointing at Caliendo. “He's a thief, cheat and a liar.”

“Crimes, cover-ups and confessions,” he said to the jury. “That's what this case is all about. Return a verdict of guilty on all counts.”

The jury found the evidence presented by the prosecution convincing enough to do just that.

Other Melrose Park Police Department officials who pleaded guilty or were convicted: Police Chief Vito Scavo, Deputy Police Chief Gary Montino, Part-time police officer Michael Wynn Village code inspector German Cepeda Deputy Police Chief James Caputo Police Commander Guy Ric Cervone.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

R.I.P.: Ill. town's police chief found dead in Chicago

Saturday, July 25, 2009 | 9:07 PM
July 25, 2009 (CHICAGO) -- The police chief of the southern Illinois community of East Carondelet has been found dead in a hotel room in Chicago.

East Carondelet Mayor Herb Simmons says Alan Biggerstaff's body was found by authorities Friday after he failed to check out of the hotel. Biggerstaff was 56.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's office has confirmed that an Alan Biggerstaff died Friday of natural causes.

Simmons says Biggerstaff had triple bypass surgery several years ago but was recently doing well.

Biggerstaff, a registered nurse, was also deputy director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.

And he was deputy director of emergency services for Kenneth Hall Regional Hospital for almost 28 years.

He's survived by a sister and two brothers.

MELROSE TRIALS: Michael "Mickey" Caliendo found guilty

After three hours of deliberation a federal jury found Michael Caliendo, former supervisor of part-time police officers for Melrose Park Police Department guilty on all counts. He was found guilty of one count of conspiracy and seven counts of mail fraud. Family and friends of Caliendo in attendance were not too pleased with the verdict and let it be known. Caliendo is one of seven police and village officials who have been either been convicted in federal court or plead guilty to their charges. Federal charges are the result of a federal investigation in 2005 when documents were seized by federal investigators. Federal prosecutors found that the chief of police and others were running several security firms out of the department using manpower and vehicles to do security work while on duty.
What do you think? Will these convictions be a positive change in the village or are these convictions just the tip of the iceberg?


Jury in Caliendo trial began deliberating today

By David Pollard
on July 24, 2009 3:02 PM
After the attorney for Michael "Mickey" Caliendo made his closing remarks in federal court Friday the prosecution had time to rebut and now whether faces charges of mail fraud and racketeering are now in the hands of 12-member jury. They went into deliberation this morning at 11:30 a.m.
Irregardless of the outcome what do you believe the series of federal trials and convictions involving former brass in Melrose Park Police Department says about the police in Melrose Park? Are there any good police officers there that take their oath seriously? What kind of picture does it paint for the village, the village administration and the community in general. Is there no crime going on in Melrose Park or is it all behind closed doors and behind desks with big titles? What do you think?'


NEWS: FBI seeks help in search for Aurora fugitive

July 24, 2009 10:24 AM
The FBI is asking for the public help in tracking down an Aurora man who has been the subject of a nationwide manhunt since 2001.

Authorities have been looking for Leoboldo J. Mendoza, 31, of 1023 Grove St. in the far western suburb since he was charged in a federal criminal complaint with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

Mendoza was charged with the January 1998 shooting death of Israel Silva in an apparent gang-related incident. Mendoza is a member of the Vice Lords street gang, the FBI said. It is believed Mendoza fled the Aurora area immediately after the shooting.

Mendoza is 6 feet tall, with a thin build, black hair and brown eyes. He was last known to have a mustache and goatee. He is also known to have several aliases: Leo Mendoza and Chris. He still has family and friends in the Aurora area as well as McAllen, Texas.

He is considered armed and dangerous.

Anyone with any information is asked to call the Chicago FBI at (312) 421-6700 or any law enforcement agency.


NEWS: Two men charged in 2007 killing

July 25, 2009 9:29 AM
Chicago police said today that they have arrested and charged two men in connection with the 2007 homicide of an 18-year-old.

Officers from the Gang Intelligence Section arrested Jerome Craft, 19, of the 10400 block of South Rhodes Avenue, and Deonta Moore, 22, of the 5500 block of South Aberdeen Street, Wednesday and Thursday, police said in a news release this morning.

Craft was charged with involuntary manslaughter and Moore was charged with concealment of a homicidal death. Both appear in bond court today.

Both charges came in relation to the Nov. 24, 2007 shooting death of 18-year-old Nehshon Kimble of the 5500 block of South Aberdeen Street.

Kimble was walking with his brother and several friends about 2:28 p.m. on that Saturday in the 10800 block of South State Street in the Roseland neighborhood, according to the news release. Kimble was lagging behind the group when he was shot in the chest. He died within an hour at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, according to news reports at the time, which also said that a green car was seen fleeing the scene after the shootings.

Friday, July 24, 2009

MELROSE TRIALS: Caliendo blames chief, mayor for offenses

July 24, 2009
By David Pollard

Michael “Mickey” Caliendo took the stand Thursday in his own defense to dispute charges of racketeering and mail fraud.

Caliendo, 66, former supervisor of part-time police officers at Melrose Park Police Department from 1995 to 2006, was questioned by his attorney, Arthur Engelland.

When asked about the evidence brought against him concerning the assigning of part-time police officers to do security work instead of patrolling the village, Caliendo said the decision was not his to make.

“I would assign part-time police to wherever they told me to,” he said.

“They” referred to his superiors, former Melrose Park Police Chief Vito Scavo, and Mayor Ronald Serpico.

Caliendo said he initially shunned the opportunity to work as a supervisor. The former Melrose Park police officer, who lost his job in 1980s after being convicted of felony mail fraud, just wanted to work as a night dispatcher at the police department. He said he had read about a job opening for a night dispatcher in the newspaper and approached Scavo about it twice, but wasn't considered. He then approached Serpico about the job.

“I think there's a job better suited for you,” Caliendo said was Serpico's reply to his inquiry. Soon after he was hired to supervise the part-time police officers.

As far as wearing a white shirt, he didn't want to do it. He testified that his superior officers made him wear the white shirt, which signifies rank that is higher than police officer.

As far as checks made out to him from Sears Outlet for security services he said his name was forged and someone else would go to the currency exchange and cash them without his knowledge. Caliendo said he also paid the police department for use of the squad card while doing security work.

Regarding his overlapping schedules at Midwest Bank and Lincoln Technical Institute, he said that when he was at the bank, part-time police officer Mike Wynn would work his shift for him at Lincoln Tech.

He said he would pay Wynn back for the hours he worked for him and absorbed the taxes. Engelland asked Caliendo about going to various casinos during working hours and admits he would go to the casino.

He said he wasn't shirking his duties and there was always someone who knew where he was and there was someone in charge in his absence. He added that he would let other people use his comp card “quite a bit” when they went to the casino. Sign-in sheets and time worked were just that and Caliendo testified he had no control over who worked, what shift, where and for how long. He said the sign-in sheets were left on his desk 24 hours a day.

“People would sign in an out at various times,” he said. “I would then send them (sign-in sheets) to payroll. My job had nothing to do with whether someone was working or not.” Caliendo gave a firm “No” when asked if he had asked former part-time police officer Albert Perfetto to lie to federal investigators.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Scott Drury seemed to make Caliendo a little uncomfortable, being a bit more aggressive in his cross-examination than seen earlier on in the trial. Drury noted Caliendo had been away from police work for 10 years and suddenly he was given a job after two weeks of inquiry.

He noted how being convicted of a felony he was able to work in law enforcement in a supervisory capacity although never mentioning his past felony conviction on his paperwork and was able apply for an firearm identification card (FOID). “Felons are not allowed to carry firearms,” Drury said. He questioned Caliendo about his role as a supervisor and making sure the part-time police officers were doing their job.

“You had no responsibility to see if they were actually working?” Drury asked. “None,” Caliendo replied. “I filled in what they gave me.” Caliendo admitted to Drury that he gave himself 40 hours of work at Lincoln Tech although he spent only one day a week working.

“You put down 40 hours a week and paid Wynn in cash,” he said. “Were you hiding?” Drury asked regarding Caliendo's absence from the job. “Did you have a Harry Potter invisibility cloak on you?”

During a break in cross-examination, a courtroom security officer brought to the judge's attention that people in the audience seemed to be trying to communicate with Caliendo while he was testifying. He said someone in the audience was nodding and shaking their head and giving hand signs, pointing out Caliendo's daughter as the culprit.

She immediately started crying and left the courtroom. “Why are they picking on me?” could be heard outside the courtroom along with sobbing. The judge once again told everyone in the audience to keep a “poker face” during the trial.

TRAINING: Courtroom Common Sense

by Devallis Rutledge
The first time you get a subpoena to testify in one of your cases, you might experience an uncomfortable feeling of anxiety. Law enforcement officers quickly develop confidence and ease in the field, where they're more or less in command of most situations. But the courtroom is different.

In court, you aren't the one in charge. The prosecutor is handling the case, defense attorneys are challenging you, and the judge is presiding over everything and telling you whether or not you can speak. There are formal rules of procedure and evidence that may be unfamiliar to you. Sitting on the witness stand, you may wish you were handling a Saturday night bar fight call instead.

After your first few times testifying, however, this aspect of the job can become tolerable, if never completely comfortable. To make it as easy on yourself as possible every time you go to court, take steps to understand the process, to be well-prepared, and to learn to handle both direct and cross-examination. Here are some tips.

Preparation for testifying in court doesn't start when you get a subpoena. It starts when you get a call (or when you initiate an investigation). The things you say and do in the field will get played back to you on the witness stand.

For better or for worse, your manner of dealing with people in the field during high-tension actions will get examined in the safe, secure, orderly courtroom, where citizens who have been called to jury duty expect to hear that their law enforcement officers behaved with good judgment, firm control, fair treatment, and exemplary language and deportment. When the prosecutor is asking the jury to take your word over the defendant's, it can hurt your credibility if the way you interact with others reflects poorly on your character.

For example, some officers think it's OK to use the same kind of language the crooks use. But if your commands to suspects are laced with profanity, you'll lose credibility points with many jurors. And if the issue is whether you used excessive force or strayed outside the performance of your official duties, some jurors will take your coarse language as an indication that you're a person of low personal standards. They might think such a person could be more likely to use excessive force, or commit other misconduct.

Every prosecutor has stories of good cases going south when a disapproving jury heard a witness repeat (or heard a tape of) the arresting officer's string of vulgar and blasphemous language directed at the suspect. You start preparing for court by eliminating that kind of language from your on-duty vocabulary. Behave as if every contact is being recorded (maybe it is), and as if every case is going to trial. Unless you would be happy to have the judge and jury hear your exact words, find another way to say what you need to say.

Preparation also includes being thorough and accurate in your reports. Leaving out significant facts-or making mistakes in descriptions, dates, times, addresses, names, and other details-can come back to haunt you when you have to rely on a report to refresh your memory months or years later. You may also find yourself in hot water when a defense attorney confronts you with factual errors in your report and asks whether your testimony is as inaccurate as your report.

When you compose your crime and arrest reports, assume that the case will be going to court long after the details of events have faded in your memory. Give yourself all the help you can by including everything that you can foresee might be important, and being careful with the accuracy of details.

As appropriate, attach diagrams that might be helpful, including measurements, directions, objects, lighting, vehicles, bodies, evidence, weapons, etc. Show the composition of photo identification displays, the exact wording the suspect used to give consent to search or to waive Miranda or to confess, the results of forensic tests, and the evidence that tends to negate anticipated defenses to the particular crimes. If you could expect to be asked about something at trial, put it in your report.

To be sure you don't forget, calendar your appearances-date, time, and place. Depending on the seriousness of the case, it might be a good idea to phone the attorney who subpoenaed you (usually the prosecutor) to find out what kind of proceeding is scheduled: pretrial motion, preliminary hearing, trial, or other proceeding. Ask what the attorney wants you to testify about, and what he or she anticipates the major issues will be. Find out if the attorney expects you to bring the evidence to court with you, or to prepare a diagram or take photos for use with your testimony. Ask whether you should come in uniform or plain clothes. Check to see if there are any matters that have been ruled inadmissible or suppressed, so you don't inadvertently refer to them during your testimony.

Pull your reports and read them. Then re-read them. The defense attorney will have read them several times and will have spotted every error, inconsistency, and omission. You should know what is and isn't in your report before you take the stand.

If appropriate, revisit the scene and refresh your memory of the relative locations and sizes of streets, buildings, signs, street lights, trees and shrubs, obstructions to observation, and other peculiar features. If there are items of physical evidence in your evidence locker that your testimony will discuss, reexamine them. Be sure you know how to identify them. For example, if you wrote your initials and the date or case number on an item, check to see where that was done so you'll be able to point it out in court.

Once you get to court, the judge will likely instruct you not to discuss your testimony with other witnesses. However, there is nothing wrong with talking to fellow officers or others before going to court. If there are details about an incident that you've forgotten, it is not improper to discuss the case with another officer who was there, if that helps to refresh your recollection. (If you're later asked about this on the stand, simply say that you did so in order to recall a detail or to confirm your memory.)

Be prompt. Never keep the judge and jury waiting for you. If you're unavoidably delayed, call the court and advise someone (such as the court clerk, prosecutor, or bailiff) why you're going to be late and when you expect to arrive. If you later find that you won't be able to keep your estimated arrival time, make another call. When you get to court, notify the bailiff or prosecutor and see whether you should remain in the courtroom or wait outside.

Any time you're in common areas, such as parking lots, hallways, elevators, and cafeterias, be courteous but do not discuss the case with or around anyone. Other people you see could be jurors, judges, witnesses, defense attorneys, or defense investigators. You could cause a mistrial or other difficulties with careless discussions in the presence of people connected to the case.

When you are called into the courtroom, someone will tell you where to sit or stand to take the oath. If you are asked to state your name, do so in a clear, firm voice. When sitting in the witness box, you may nod a greeting toward the jury, and then face the attorney who called you and wait for the first question.

Direct examination (by the attorney who called you, usually the prosecutor) will generally begin with your identification and experience. The next series of questions will establish jurisdiction and "set the scene" (date, time, location, and why you were there). Questions will then turn to the facts of the case.

Cross-examination (by the opposing attorney) will typically go back over the same ground you've already covered, but in a different order and form, and may go into areas not already discussed. The goal of the cross-examiner is to undermine parts of your testimony that damage the adverse side. This could be done by revealing inconsistencies in your reports and testimony, suggesting that you are biased, questioning whether you could really see and hear the things you've described, testing your ability to recall peripheral details, and getting you to agree to the possibility of events you don't actually know or recall.

As with everything else, the more you testify, the more proficient you will become. So when you receive a subpoena for traffic court, juvenile court, or a misdemeanor jury trial, don't try to "get out of testifying." These are good opportunities to ease into your role as witness and gain experience that will stand you in good stead when you have to spend a day or two on the stand in a felony trial.

If possible before your first appearance, try to sit in on another officer's testimony in a case where you are not a witness. Observing someone else's performance is a good way to become familiar with local practices and the flow of courtroom proceedings.

And every time you take the witness stand, remember the first principle of testifying: Tell only the truth, and only tell the truth you know.

Devallis Rutledge is a former police officer and veteran prosecutor who currently serves as Special Counsel to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.

NEWS: (VIDEO GAMBLING) Chicago's west suburbs in a wait-and-see game on video gambling

Some governments play wait-and-see game
By Gary Gibula and Joseph Ruzich

Special to the Tribune

July 24, 2009

The recent legalization of video gambling in Illinois has some communities pondering whether they should welcome gaming machines or prohibit them before the virtual cards are even dealt.

"My intuition is that our residents will not want video poker," said Mayor Michael Kwasman of West Chicago, where city officials are considering a referendum measure on whether it should be allowed, "but this is an open government, and citizen input drives our administration."

The Video Gambling Act was signed by Gov. Pat Quinn last week to help stem Illinois' budget crisis and fund a $31 billion statewide construction program.

Some key provisions of the act:

-- The state collects 30 percent of net income from each terminal in taxes. Five-sixths of that revenue goes into a state capital projects fund and one-sixth goes to a local government fund, with money distributed to local governments in proportion to the tax revenue generated from the machines within their boundaries.

-- The state also collects licensing fees from manufacturers, distributors, operators, technicians and others involved with the gambling terminals. Three-quarters of what is collected will go to administer video gambling, and the rest is for programs to help compulsive gamblers.

-- Half of the after-tax profit of a gaming terminal goes to the operator, which owns and maintains the machines, and half to the licensed establishment.

-- No one under 21 may use a video gaming terminal.

-- Municipalities may ban video gambling within their borders, and counties can ban them in unincorporated areas. Bans also could come by referendum measure, initiated by petitions signed by at least 25 percent of the legal voters of a municipality.

DuPage County Board Member Brien Sheahan (R-Elmhurst) said he plans next week to introduce a proposed ordinance to ban video poker devices in unincorporated areas of DuPage, and he is calling on all municipalities in the county to consider similar action.

Video gaming will create "a mini-casino on virtually every street corner in our communities," Sheahan said. "We're going to have a dramatic expansion of people who are addicted to gambling. People are going to be gambling their paychecks, and that's going to have a result on families."

Sheahan said he hopes his proposal will be on the County Board's agenda for a vote in August. Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer (D-Chicago) plans to introduce a similar proposal soon, she said in a Tuesday press news release Tuesday.

The Illinois Gaming Board has till early September to formulate regulations and procedures for the machines.

"We're just at the beginning," said board spokesman Gene O'Shea. "Until we have the task accomplished, there's little else we can say."

Oversight is fraught with peril, critics say. Licenses could be doled out to those with clout or unsavory connections, as happened when the state awarded riverboat casino licenses. In Louisiana, where video poker was legalized in the early 1990s, a major corporate player was surreptitiously owned by the mob.

No concrete estimate of tax revenue from video gambling was available, but West Virginia, where video poker was legalized in 2001, took in $212 million last year.

Local bar and restaurant owners and their patrons had mixed reactions to the law.

"You can make a lot of money from those machines," said Matthew O'Sullivan, 49, owner of O'Sullivan's Public House in Forest Park. O'Sullivan said he would like to install machines in his establishment but does not have space. "Maybe the money can help close the state budget gap. We just have to wait and see how this plan plays out."

Martin Lynch, 30, owner of Irish Times Pub & Restaurant in Brookfield, said he wondered whether the machines might take away from his establishment's family atmosphere.

"I wonder what kind of clientele will use these machines," he said. "We're a friendly restaurant and pub. I just don't know if we're the right place for gambling."

"I like to gamble," said Tony Donnamario, 39 of Willow Springs, who was playing video poker at a for-entertainment-only machine at Time Out Sports Bar & Grill in Countryside on a recent afternoon. "The state is going to make a lot of money by legalizing these machines," he said. "Maybe the money could be used to bring down my property taxes."

Donnamario said he is a responsible gambler but acknowledged that the machines can be captivating.

"They're fun," he said. "You're never going to stop [people] gambling." "They will bring a lot of revenue to the bars," said Paul Drake, 61, owner of George's Tavern in Berwyn, which opened in 1940. "I personally don't want them. I don't want people spending their entire paycheck on a machine and not have enough money to buy milk for their kids. I don't want that on my conscience."

Although the state will regulate the machines, Berwyn Police Chief William Kushner said he worries about how that will get done and how his force will handle criminal activity that could come to town with the machines.

"This is a nightmare," he said. "No one has ever done a needs analysis relative to these machines and law enforcement. . . This is going to put more strain on local law enforcement."

The Video Gambling Act was conceived by lawmakers behind closed doors, an unwise course of action, said Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association. The group is urging the Illinois Gaming Board to conduct public hearings before the machines are officially turned on, and is planning a public forum within the next few weeks.

"Make an intelligent decision after public input," Shaw said. "That's what good government is."

West Chicago's Public Affairs Committee is set to discuss the video poker issue at its Aug. 24 meeting before making a recommendation to the City Council on pursuing a referendum initiative.

"I'll certainly be open to hear what folks have to say about it," said the committee's chairman, Ald. Lori Chassee. "We'll look at the pros and cons and listen to what people think about video poker and convenience gambling."

The neighboring city of Aurora has one riverboat gambling facility and one off-track betting establishment. City officials said they will discuss the impact of video poker gaming in coming months.

Naperville has no legalized gambling within its city limits and is considering whether to move to ban video gaming.

"Naperville is getting feedback from [its] business community about it," said Robert Marshall, assistant city manager. "Our Chamber of Commerce is asking a representative from the Illinois Gaming Board to speak at its August meeting to explain the pros and cons."

Nick Mataragas, 40of Time Out Sports Bar & Grill in Countryside, said he might get machines to prevent losing business to another bar that might allow it.

He also said that making extra cash from the machines might help mom-and-pop drinking establishments stay afloat.

"Why should the [river] boats get all the money?" he said. "I don't know if gambling is good for society as a whole, but some people will at least benefit from it."

NEWS: (VIDEO GAMBLING) South, southwest suburbs try to balance the pros and cons

Trying to balance the pros and cons
By Dennis Sullivan and Kristen Kridel

Special to the Tribune

July 24, 2009

The new Video Gambling Act allows municipalities to approve ordinances banning video poker machines within their borders, but Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki said his board believes that opting out would put local restaurants and bars at a disadvantage.

"I'm not a gambler, but there are people who like to do it," he said. Approving a non-participation ordinance "would push those people out of Tinley Park."

The act, signed last week by Gov. Pat Quinn, legalizes video gaming machines in bars, restaurants and social clubs, and taxes the revenue they will generate as part of an effort to fund capital construction projects and create jobs.

Other officials and bar owners in the south suburbs were more cautious, wanting to know more about the law before they decide what to do.

Chuck Gatto, proprietor of Gatto's Restaurant & Bar in New Lenox and Tinley Park, said he is not sure what the requirements will be for the machines and whether they would fit into "the dynamics of my kind of store." But he also fears that not having them might put his restaurants at a disadvantage -- similar to what happened when Tinley Park, Orland Park, and Oak Forest patrons responded to a smoking ban in those communities by going to restaurants in towns that still allowed smoking.

At Larsen's Corner in Joliet, a video poker machine sits in the corner, but it doesn't pay out or get much use, said bar manager Cathy Gardner.

She suspects the bar's owners might "try out" a couple more machines now that state law allows them to pay out.

She remains skeptical whether the machines will bring in more customers.

"I don't know if people have the money to play those games," she said.

Judy Riggs, owner of Ridgewood Tap in Homewood, said the machines might attract a larger customer base -- which Riggs has seen dwindle since the smoking ban was approved -- but she was unsure whether the costs will outweigh the benefits.

"It depends on a lot of things," she said, adding that she was not sure whether they will be a hit with younger patrons.

Joliet City Manager Tom Thanas said city officials look at the situation primarily from an economic standpoint.

"We already have more than 1,000 slot machines" at the Empress and Harrah'scasinos in Joliet.

Yet, city officials got behind video gambling after casino operators determined the machines cover a separate market.

"I'm not sure if there will be much economic development that takes place in some establishments," he said.

City leaders have questions about how the law will be implemented.

"The Illinois Gaming Board will be challenged in trying to process the thousands of applications. We're waiting to see what applications come in," Thanas said.

The gaming board has till early September to formulate regulations and procedures for the machines.

"We're just at the beginning," said spokesman Gene O'Shea. "Until we have the task accomplished, there's little else we can say."

Chicago Ridge Mayor Eugene Siegel said he understands the state's need for more revenue but said he wants to study the law to make sure the devices have limits "that prevent people from spending their entire paychecks."

He also said he believes the law has the indirect benefit of blocking organized crime from video-poker transactions.

"It takes it out of the hands of some unsavory people," Siegel said.

Oversight remains an area fraught with peril, critics say. Licenses could be doled out to those with clout or with unsavory connections, as happened when the state awarded riverboat casino licenses. In Louisiana, where video poker was legalized in the early 1990s, a major corporate player was surreptitiously owned by the mob.

No concrete estimate of tax revenue from video gambling was available. West Virginia, where video poker was legalized in 2001, took in $212 million last year.

Here are key provisions of the Video Gambling Act:

--The state collects 30 percent of net income from each terminal in taxes. Five-sixths of that money goes into a state capital projects fund, and one-sixth goes to a local government fund, with money distributed to municipalities in proportion to the video gambling tax revenue generated within their boundaries.

--The state also collects licensing fees from manufacturers, distributors, operators, technicians and others involved with the gambling terminals.

--Half of the after-tax profit of a gaming terminal goes to the operator, which owns and maintains the machines, and half to the licensed establishment.

--No one under 21 may use a video gaming terminal.

--Municipalities may ban video gambling within their borders, and counties may ban them in unincorporated areas. Bans also could come by referendum measure initiated by petitions signed by at least 25 percent of legal voters in a municipality. .

Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said the village would move to ban video gambling, while Oak Lawn City Manager Larry Deetjen said village attorneys are reviewing the law. Orland Park has no plans to address the issue.

Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer said in a news release Tuesday that she soon will introduce a proposal to prohibit video gambling in unincorporated areas of the county. She said jobs created by the construction projects that the gaming is funding will be "negated by the paychecks wiped out by video poker" and increased costs for law enforcement.

In Steger, Frank Elton said he probably will remove the entertainment-only video poker machines at his Bambino's restaurant once the law takes effect. He said the state tax, coupled with the cost of the new machines, will require businesses to take in $1,000 a day to be profitable.

"I think the state is going to take a bath on this," he said.

Tom Maher, commander of VFW Post 450 in Alsip, said his organization uses the proceeds from its entertainment-only video poker machines to donate thousands of dollars annually to charity. The new law will change that, he said.

"By the time the state takes its cut, we won't have anything to give away," Maher said, adding it was "more than likely" that the local VFW will not use the machines for gambling.

The Village of Alsip has no plans to enact a ban, said Mayor Patrick Kitching, who added that he understands the state's need for more revenue. "If it gets to be a problem," he said, "I guarantee this Village Board will act."

NEWS: (VIDEO GAMBLING) Is payoff worth the risk?

Some cautious, others excited about new law
Freelance reporter Kristen Kridel contributed to this report.

Chicago Tribune

July 24, 2009

Some bar and restaurant owners are excited about the prospect of newly legalized video gambling, but there is concern in lower-income neighborhoods about the impact it could have in communities struggling with social ills.

John Paul Jones, chairman of the Greater Englewood Community and Family Task Force, said many video poker machines are likely to pop up in African-American communities. He said his biggest concern is whether the state will provide the necessary oversight.

"It's going to be overwhelming," Jones said. "We need to look at how it is we can control the roll-out so that it is not abusive."

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the Video Gaming Act last week to help fund capital projects, and the Illinois Gaming Board has until early September to formulate regulations and procedures for the video gambling machines.

"We're just at the beginning," said Gene O'Shea, gaming board spokesman. "Until we have the task accomplished, there's little else we can say."

Jones said he does not think many people know about the law allowing bars, restaurants and social clubs in Illinois to have up to five video gambling machines.

"This is something that happened behind closed doors," Jones said. Some key provisions of the act:

-- The state collects 30 percent of net income from each terminal in taxes. Five-sixths of that revenue goes into a state capital projects fund, and one-sixth goes to a local government fund and is distributed to municipalities in proportion to tax revenue generated from the machines within their boundaries.

-- The state also collects licensing fees from manufacturers, distributors, operators, technicians and others involved with the gambling terminals. Three-quarters of that goes to administer video gambling, and the rest is for programs to help compulsive gamblers.

-- Half of the after-tax profit of a gaming terminal goes to the operator, which owns and maintains the machines, and half to the licensed establishment.

-- No one under 21 may use a video gaming terminal.

-- Municipalities may ban video gambling within their borders, and counties may ban them in unincorporated areas. Bans also could come by referendum measure originating with petitions signed by at least 25 percent of legal voters.

On Tuesday, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer issued a news release saying she soon would introduce a proposal to ban video poker.

"There is great need for a capital bill in Illinois to rebuild our roads, bridges, schools and transit system, but at what cost?" Gainer said. Oversight of the industry is up to the gaming board and is fraught with peril, critics say. Licenses could be doled out to those with clout or unsavory connections, as happened when the state awarded riverboat casino licenses. In Louisiana, where video poker was legalized in the early 1990s, a major corporate player was surreptitiously owned by the mob.

No concrete estimate of tax revenue the state would gain from video gambling was available. West Virginia, where video poker was legalized in 2001, took in $212 million last year.

Andy Shaw, executive director of the Better Government Association, criticized lawmakers for conceiving the Video Gambling Act behind closed doors. The BGA urged the gaming board to conduct public hearings before the machines are officially turned on.

"Make an intelligent decision after public input," Shaw said. "That's what good government is."

One argument in favor of legalization is that there are already so many machines in bars and clubs with amusement licenses that legalizing them would acknowledge the reality and let government benefit by taxing them.

Ald. Howard B. Brookins Jr. (21st), whose ward includes the South Side Auburn Gresham and Washington Heights neighborhoods, said video gambling could help the economy. He said the city needs some form of gambling to compete with Indiana and Joliet, which is seeing revenue from Chicago residents.

"If you really want to go out and gamble, you can drive 2 miles over the border and you'll be at Horseshoe Casino," he said.

Still, Brookins said he would like to see more details about how the machines will be monitored, how organized crime will be kept out, and whether it is possible to give people a sense of control in their neighborhoods through restrictions on the machines.

Many bar owners in Chicago agree the machines will help business in a bad economy. They also say society's stances toward moral equivalents such as casinos, lotteries, cigarettes and alcohol means video poker should be no exception.

"Being against it is a popular thing, with that not-in-my-backyard crowd saying people gamble too much, gambling is evil," said Jim Rittenberg, owner of Mother Hubbard's Sports Pub on the Near North Side. "You can't legislate or dictate morality."

Rittenberg, who said he has been eagerly awaiting video gambling's legalization, plans to add machines.

"I've been praying for four years for this," said Rittenberg, 65.

Carol Harris, 51, owner of Carol's Pub in Roger's Park, also said she will bring in the machines as a way to offset her high operation costs and the recession.

"They are moneymakers," Harris said. "The government taxes us, and this will help us tremendously, so it's nothing but a good thing."

Other owners of bars and restaurants either did not know about the law or were lukewarm about the gambling machines, including James Murphy, 30, co-owner of Murphy's Bleachers across the street from Wrigley Field. He said the sports bar will consider securing machines as the rules and regulations surface.

"It seems reasonable. The lottery and horse racing isn't any better than video poker," Murphy said. "We do get a lot of tourist and families groups, so we'll consider."

South Loop Club manager Dimitri Vranas said he has seen no customer interest in video poker machines at the club on State Street.

"I don't think it will be a serious draw. If I did, I'd be putting them in already," Vranas said. "Maybe down the line, if customers ask for it."

Sheila O'Grady, president of the Illinois Restaurants Association, said said members' reaction to the law has been light.

"I don't think it's really on the radar, because I haven't heard a lot of feedback," O'Grady said.

She said the machines would not be a good fit for family and fine dining restaurants and others that believe offering gambling will be "too drastic of a departure from their mission" as a food establishment.

Mario Herrera, manager at the Golden Nugget Pancake House in Lincoln Park, said that although he is against having the machines in the restaurant, managers from the seven chain restaurants in the area will meet soon to make a decision.

"Gambling is a disease, and this is easy access," said Herrera, who has worked at the 24-hour diner for 20 years. "It's a bad idea. There will only be losers in that case."

NEWS: (VIDEO GAMBLING) 1 state's video-gambling experience bodes ill for Illinois

'A devastating development for South Dakota.'
By Kristen Kridel

Special to the Tribune

July 24, 2009

By legalizing video gambling, Illinois is poised to go down a path that led Sioux Falls, S.D., to accumulate mom-and-pop casinos, pawn shops and payday lenders on almost every major street.

The gambling outlets do not have clocks on the walls and curtains are drawn, leaving gamblers no hint of how much time they have spent inside, said De Knudson, a City Council member and wife of a gubernatorial candidate. Money is only a few steps away and snacks are free, so even gamblers' stomachs don't rebel.

Knudson said most residents she talks to have friends, relatives or co-workers with a video gambling problem.

The machines are "so convenient. They're everywhere. They're so addictive," she said. "Video [gambling] was a devastating development for South Dakota."

Illinois lawmakers, who passed video gambling months ago, and Gov. Pat Quinn, who signed it into law on July 13, had their eyes on the prize: a new revenue stream. They wanted tax money collected on the gambling to finance a construction program for roads, mass transit and schools that also would put people to work.

A statement from Quinn's office emphasized that video gambling will provide only one part of the funding for the effort expected to create 439,000 jobs over the next six years. It also said the law increased regulations and options for municipalities to prohibit video gambling.

Analysts say that as many as 45,000 machines could dot the state, reaping $300 to $641 million a year. The yield can be unpredictable, especially in light of a drop of nearly 15 percent in gaming revenues from casinos, the lottery and horse racing in Illinois last year.

Lawmakers passed video gambling without holding public hearings. If they had, they likely would have heard statistics about these effects:

-- Easy accessibility leads to the notion that such gambling is socially acceptable, which promotes more frequent wagering.

-- It takes about a year for video gamblers to become compulsive, compared to 3 ½ years when betting on horses, sports, etc.

-- More video gambling and lottery machines tend to be placed in poorer neighborhoods.

-- Those with lower incomes are more prone to see wagering as a way out of economic misery.

Under the new law, bars, restaurants, social clubs and truck stops can have as many as five video poker or slot machines. That accessibility pushes the notion that video gambling, also called convenience gambling, is encouraged, said Coleen Moore, board secretary of the Illinois Council on Problem Gambling. If outlets are prevalent, "The individual has a higher likelihood of becoming addicted to that behavior," she said.

Video gambling is one of the few forms of wagering the National Gambling Impact Study Commission spoke out against, said Timothy A. Kelly, former executive director of the commission, which researched the topic from 1997 to 1999. The commission's results are considered the most comprehensive and authoritative report on legalized gambling in America.

"The commission recommends that states should not authorize any further convenience gambling operations and should cease and roll back existing operations," the report issued in 1999 states.

At least two states have done that. In 2000, South Carolina rescinded video gambling, which had in place for nearly 15 years. In Louisiana, a third of the video machines were turned off in the late 1990s after more than 30 parishes, the equivalent of counties, voted to ban them.

The gambling study commission determined the economic value of the machines is not very great, said Kelly, director of the DePree Public Policy Institute in Pasadena, Calif., because the money wagered would have gone to other taxed businesses and forms of entertainment.

"This is not the type of gambling a state should turn to to close the budget gap," he said. "The actual benefit is minimal, and yet the social cost is quite high."

But Greg Gemignani, who heads an Internet gambling practice group at a Nevada law firm, said video gambling can be a good source of revenue if the industry is properly regulated.

"The gambling is occurring anyway. ...People can gamble as much as they want. This way at least they're regulating it," Gemignani said.

Kelly said video gambling attracts those who are predisposed to addiction. A gambler has to make a conscious decision to go to a casino, but not so if gambling is available in local bars and restaurants. "If you have it in your face at every street corner ... people who wouldn't have fallen to gambling addiction do," he said.

Five percent of the total gambling population is addicted, he said.

Only Internet gambling is more addictive, said Chad Hills, analyst for research and policy at Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group.

The manufacturers have created computer chips designed to appeal to different generations and demographics. For instance, there are "Star Wars"-themed overlays to appeal to people in their 30s, Hills said. The operators can change the chips to target their clientele.

A report Hills compiled for Focus on the Family says two out of three addicted gamblers reported their gambling problems were caused by video machines. It takes about a year for a gambler to become compulsive with video gaming, compared with three years in blackjack and sports betting, the report said.

Hills described the results of gambling on a community as the ABC's: addiction, bankruptcy, crime.

Addicts can deceive their spouses or other family members to get money to gamble, he said. When they have exhausted all their funds, they start committing crimes.

"It turns a normal person criminal," he said. "Someone you would never have thought would hurt a fly is holding a gun up at a convenience store."

At taverns where video gambling is allowed in South Dakota and Montana, it's not unusual to see gamblers playing in their pajamas, he said. "They come straight from home, don't even bother getting dressed," he said.

Gamblers can rack up debts, with the average man seeking treatment at the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery, a Peoria clinic, owing $50,000 to $60,000, said Moore, who is coordinator of resource development there. The average woman treated at the clinic, which helps about 75 compulsive gamblers a year, owes $23,000, she said.

Kelly said he has seen people playing video poker in Las Vegas spend $200 to $250 in 10 minutes.

"I was surprised how much money they put on it right off the bat and how quickly it went," he said. "From the looks of them, these were not wealthy people. They were just average people."

De Knudson said she has heard from people or family members of gamblers in South Dakota who have lost paycheck after paycheck, businesses or as much as $100,000. Some became suicidal.

South Dakota has more Gamblers Anonymous meetings per capita than any other state except Montana, which is the only state with more video gambling machines per capita, according to the Focus on the Family report.

But Knudson said the biggest gambling addict is the state, which has had gaming for two decades. After watching attempts to repeal South Dakota's video lottery repeatedly fail, she said she believes it is there to stay.

"It's incredibly difficult to get rid of it," she said. "The people involved are making so much money from it. They can hand out campaign contributions left and right, and they do so."

Kelly called taxes on video gambling regressive, saying they come from the poorest neighborhoods where people with the lowest incomes pin their hopes on such games.

"The governor is kind of rolling the dice with the most vulnerable part of the population at risk," he said. "That's the heartbreak of it."

Cook County Commissioner Deborah Sims is concerned that her constituents, many of whom live in poorer sections, will be at risk of gambling away their paychecks on the machines. Also, onlookers bet on the players, putting them at risk for losing money, she said. "It would be an issue in my community," Sims said. "If you put a video poker [machine] in every bar, you'd have people not coming home from work. They'd stop at the video poker machine. We already have people who are not bringing their money home, who are going to the [casino] boat.

"People will become more addicted because it's easy, accessible," she said. The machines may end up where people can least afford them, she said.

"The people who don't need it are the people who will get it the most," she said.