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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

Saturday, February 27, 2010

PENSION NEWS: Illinois Supreme Court rules that pension funds are not liable for prejudgment interest

by Donald L. Potts

The Illinois Supreme Court recently resolved a split between the districts of the Illinois Appellate Court concerning whether a pension applicant who succeeds on administrative review is entitled to prejudgment interest. In Kouzoukas v. Retirement Board of the Policemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of the City of Chicago, 234 Ill.2d 446 (2009), the Illinois Supreme Court held that prejudgment interest is not available in such cases.

The Illinois Code of Civil Procedure provides for post-judgment interest (interest on any judgment beginning when the judgment is entered until the judgment is paid), but does not contain any provision for prejudgment interest. (735 ILCS 5/2-1303) In the past, some Illinois courts have awarded prejudgment interest to successful pension applicants based on Section 2 of the Illinois Interest Act, which states, “Creditors shall be allowed to receive at the rate of five (5) per centum per annum for all moneys after they become due on any bond, bill, promissory note, or other instrument of writing …” (emphasis added) (815 ILCS 205/2).

The Illinois Supreme Court began its analysis with the general rule that prejudgment interest is available only when authorized by the agreement of the parties, by statute, or on equitable grounds. The court noted that the Illinois Pension Code constitutes a written agreement between the parties, but that it does not provide for prejudgment interest. The court also noted there was no basis for an equitable award of prejudgment interest, such as purposely denying a claim the Board knew was meritorious. Therefore, the court concluded, “[I]f prejudgment interest is to be awarded, it must be because a statute authorizes it.” Kouzoukas argued that the Interest Act authorized prejudgment interest, relying on a 1990 appellate court decision.

In Fenton v. Board of Trustees of the City of Murphysboro Police Pension Fund, 203 Ill.App.3d 714 (5th Dist. 1990), the Fifth District of the Appellate Court held “the terms and conditions of the pension fund are written in the Illinois Pension Code, … the pension agreement is an ‘other instrument of writing’ under the interest statute.” Based on this analysis, the court held the pension applicant was entitled to prejudgment interest when he prevailed on administrative review of his pension application.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejected the Fenton court’s analysis, noting that statutes permitting the recovery of interest must be strictly construed. Based on this standard, the court determined that the Interest Act does not apply to the Illinois Pension Code. In reaching this conclusion, the court compared the Illinois Pension Code to the documents specifically mentioned in Section 2 of the Interest Act: bonds, bills, promissory notes, or other instruments of writing (including contracts, leases, and insurance policies). The court determined that these types of documents involve transactions of a business or commercial nature, and the provisions of the Illinois Pension Code have little in common with those documents.

As a result of the Kouzoukas holding, pension funds are no longer required to pay prejudgment interest when a denial of benefits is overturned on administrative review.

PENSION NEWS: Court rules pension board should have held pre-deprivation hearing

by David Zafiratos

A police pension board improperly terminated a disability pension when it failed to hold a hearing prior to terminating the pension, the First District Appellate Court concluded in Peacock v. Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund, ___ Ill.App.3d __, 2009 WL 3415679 (1st Dist. 2009). In Peacock, the Board of Trustees of the Village of South Chicago Heights Police Pension Fund awarded police officer Craig Peacock a disability pension in 1991 after he underwent surgery to correct a back injury. As required by Section 3-115 of the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/3-115), Peacock underwent several medical examinations between 1992 and 2005, and continued to receive disability benefits throughout these years. In 2006, however, the treasurer of the Board notified him that the Board elected to “hold” his disability payments until he was examined by a Board selected physician. Since Peacock had reached age 49 in 2006, it was the last year the Board could require an annual review of his disability.

After discontinuing his disability pension payments, the Board scheduled an independent medical examination to determine whether he was still disabled. The IME physician examined Peacock, reviewed two prior evaluation reports, and then issued a written report to the Board, stating he could return to full, unrestricted duty as a police officer. According to the IME report, Peacock would be required to follow a simple lumbar exercise program. Based on that IME report, the Board discontinued Peacock’s disability pension benefits and informed him that he could request a hearing before the Board on his disability status.

On two separate occasions, Peacock’s attorney requested that the board conduct a hearing on the matter. Prior to the hearing, a second physician examined Peacock and opined he was still disabled. At Peacock’s disability benefits hearing, the Board relied on the opinion of the first IME physician, found he was no longer disabled, and revoked his pension retroactive to April 10, 2006, the date of the first IME physician’s report. Peacock then filed a two-count lawsuit requesting judicial review and alleging a due process violation. The circuit court ruled in favor of the Board, and Peacock appealed the court’s decision.

First, the appellate court considered whether the Board’s decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence. In reciting the legal standards applicable to review a pension board’s finding of fact, the court explained, “[t]he decision of an administrative agency is against the manifest weight of the evidence only where the opposite conclusion is clearly evident.” The court also noted the decision should be upheld if there is, “sufficient evidence in the record to support the agency’s determination.” Finally, the court explained that to justify a pension board’s factual determination, “there need only be some competent evidence in the record to support its findings.”

With these standards in mind, the court then looked to Section 3-116 of the Illinois Pension Code for the statutory requirements for the termination of a disability pension. When a police pension board determines a disability pensioner has recovered from a disability, Section 3-116 calls for the pension board to certify to the chief of police that the officer is no longer disabled. Courts have interpreted Section 3-116 to allow a pension board to revoke a disability pension based on one medical examination. In Peacock since the Board discontinued his disability pension following an independent medical examination, the court determined sufficient competent evidence existed in the record to support the Board’s decision.

While the court refused to overrule the Board’s finding of fact that Peacock was no longer disabled, it did take issue with the Board’s failure to hold a hearing prior to terminating the pension. Pension boards must provide adequate notice and a meaningful opportunity for the pensioner to be heard prior to terminating a disability pension. This Board provided neither adequate notice nor an opportunity for Peacock to be heard prior to terminating his pension. The Board’s first notification was a letter to Peacock informing him that his disability pension was terminated. Although it did hold a hearing after terminating his pension, the Board violated his right to due process by not holding the hearing first.

The court cited the United States Supreme Court’s opinion in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976) regarding an individual’s right to a pre-deprivation hearing. The existence of such a right is determined by balancing “(1) the private interest affected by the official action, (2) the risk of erroneous deprivation of that interest through the procedures used and the probable value, if any, of additional or substitute procedural safeguards, and (3) the government’s interest, including the fiscal and administrative burdens that additional or substitute procedural safeguards would entail.” Based on these administrative law principles, the court ruled Peacock was entitled to a hearing before termination of his disability benefits and, therefore, was entitled to payment of benefits he would have received if the Board had waited until after its hearing to terminate his disability benefits.

The Peacock case clarifies the rule that disability pensioners are entitled to a hearing before benefits are terminated. Terminating a disability pension prior to conducting a hearing could result, as it did in this case, in the pension board being responsible for back payment of pension benefits.

PENSION NEWS: Teacher pension dispute proves instructive to police and fire pension board policy disputes

by Shawn P. Flaherty

A recently reported court decision involving a dispute between the City of Chicago Board of Education and its teachers’ pension fund presents procedural issues of interest to Illinois Article 3 and Article 4 pension funds. In Board of Education of the City of Chicago v. Board of Trustees of the Public Schools Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago, Ill.App3d , 2009 WL 2590086 (First District, August 20, 2009), the Chicago Board of Education (“Board”) filed suit against the Board of Trustees of the Public Schools Teachers’ Pension and Retirement Fund of Chicago (“Fund”) to challenge pension payments awarded to a group of newly retired teachers. The basis for the dispute was the Board’s contention that the Fund utilized an unauthorized method of calculating average salaries for the retirees’ pension benefits. The Board alleged the Fund’s calculation method resulted in more lucrative pension payments for the new retirees than permitted under Illinois statutes.

The Cook County Circuit Court originally granted the Board’s motion for summary judgment on the basis that the Fund violated the Illinois Pension Code by overpaying the teachers. The retired teachers intervened in the lawsuit seeking to bar the Board from pursuing the case on the basis that the Board did not seek timely review of the pensions under the Administrative Review Law. (735 ILCS 5/3-101) The circuit court granted the retired teachers’ motion, but dismissed the Board’s complaint with prejudice. The Board attempted to amend its complaint; however, the motion to amend was denied. Subsequently, the Board filed an appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court for the First District.

Two primary issues were resolved in this case, one in favor of each side in this dispute. The appellate court rejected the Board’s argument that it had authority to challenge at any time the Fund’s decision to grant higher than authorized pensions because it violated the Illinois Pension Code. Specifically, the reviewing court found that the action of the Fund was not void, but merely voidable. The distinction between these two terms is crucial. “Voidable” actions are (1) subject to the thirty-five day period for filing under the Administrative Review Law; and (2) considered erroneous decisions. On the other hand “void” actions are (1) without jurisdiction; (2) challengeable at any time; and (3) without statutory authority. The appellate court agreed with the Fund and the retired teachers that the Fund did indeed have statutory authority to calculate pensions, even if it did so wrongfully. The Board did not prevail on this issue.

A second issue proved more successful for the Board. The Board alleged that the trial court erred by refusing to permit an amendment to its complaint alleging that the Fund engaged in a “systematic decision” to improperly calculate retiree pensions and pay them at a higher-than-permitted monthly rate. The court — citing authority from previous court decisions — recognized that third-party governmental entities have standing to review cases when their finances may be affected by the actions of a pension board. “Systematic decisions” are more a challenge to the pension board’s rules, standards, and policies than an individual pension benefit. The appellate court ruled the “systematic decision” alleged by the Board in this case merited remand to the circuit court.

In general, attacks on a pension board’s benefit calculations would remain subject to the time limitations of the Administrative Review Law with exceptions carved out by previous court decisions. More notably, the differentiation between standard pension board decisions and “systematic decisions” has been sharpened and clarified. The door has been widened for legal challenges against unauthorized pension calculations or other practices that affect municipal finances.

PENSON NEWS: Municipalities begin adopting public questions resolutions

by Patrick J. Jesse

Some DuPage County and northwest suburban municipalities have started adopting resolutions allowing a public question to be submitted to voters concerning actions by state legislators to attain long-term pension sustainability.

According to one such resolution, the Village of Barrington has experienced a 58% rise in actuarially required contributions to its firefighter pension fund from the 2007 tax levy to the 2009 tax levy and a 31.69% increase for the police pension fund during the same period. According to municipalities, several factors have contributed to the situation, including investment losses, legislatively mandated pension benefit increases, and cumulative wage increases. Many municipalities have publically stated they are experiencing a financial budget crisis affecting the level of public safety services provided and the long-term sustainability of the pension funds, due to the steadily increasing pension funding cost.

Article 28 of the Illinois Election Code enables a local government to submit a public question on an election ballot. In the case of a local government seeking to submit a public question, the resolution or ordinance of the governing board of a political subdivision which initiates the submission of a public question must be adopted not less than 65 days before a regularly scheduled election to be eligible for submission on the ballot at such election. (10 ILCS 5/28-2(e)) A resolution or ordinance initiating the submission of a public question may specify a regular election at which the question is to be submitted, and must so specify if the statute authorizing the public question requires submission at a particular election.

As a result of the resolutions, the first public question will be placed on ballots for the February 2010 primary election. The Village of Barrington’s voters will respond to the following public question on the February 2010 ballot:

Shall the Illinois General Assembly and the Governor take immediate steps to implement meaningful pension reform, which will relieve the unsustainable burden on local taxpayers?

The outcome of the ballots on this question is purely advisory. Nevertheless, pension reform continues to be at the forefront of the financial crisis of the State and its municipalities. It remains to be seen what effect the results of the advisory questions will have on the Illinois General Assembly’s actions this year.

NEWS: Police locate abducted Glendale Heights man


From the Daily Herald

By James Fuller | Daily Herald Staff

Published: 2/26/2010 8:38 PM | Updated: 2/26/2010 8:57 PM

Glendale Heights police don't know much more about the abduction of one of their residents except that he's been found unharmed.

Jose J. Gomez, 30, was abducted from his car while driving west on North Brandon Drive Thursday morning, police said. Witnesses saw two unidentified Hispanic men with dark, hooded coats exit a white Plymouth Voyager with a thin red stripe down the side. The two men then told Gomez they were the police, ordered him out of the vehicle, placed him in handcuffs and drove away. No weapon was displayed or implied in the abduction, police said.

On Friday, police issued a statement saying Gomez was located unharmed. They offered no information about how long Gomez was missing or what occurred during the course of his abduction. Police did not respond to an interview request for more information.

The only other new development in the investigation to become public is that police now believe the vehicle registration number of the Plymouth Voyager they initially made public was incorrect. Police now say they only have a partial registration of K109. That leaves three missing characters.

The investigation will continue. Anyone with information on the case should call the police at .

NEWS: Ex-deputy fire chief pleads guilty to child porn

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Joseph Hubbard, 53, formerly of the Newport Fire Protection District, avoided a maximum five-year prison term in a plea deal with Lake County prosecutors.

February 27, 2010

A former north suburban deputy fire chief avoided a possible prison term when he pleaded guilty Friday to possessing child pornography on his home computer and was sentenced to 30 months' probation.

Joseph Hubbard, 53, was serving as deputy chief of the Newport Fire Protection District in Lake County when he was hit last fall with the felony charges.

Hubbard, who has since resigned his post, had faced a maximum five-year prison term if convicted.

As part of a plea deal with Lake County prosecutors, he pleaded guilty to a single count of possessing child pornography in return for the probationary sentence.

Judge John Phillips also ordered Hubbard to register as a sex offender and avoid any contact with children younger than 18.

Hubbard was charged after a family member found sexually explicit images of children on his computer and contacted police, prosecutors said.

His attorney said Hubbard had no criminal record before he was charged in this case.

"He served his community as a firefighter for 32 years," defense attorney Jed Stone said in court. "There's no hint of any other misconduct."

NEWS: (National) Wis. officer in national spotlight for heroic efforts


By PoliceOne Staff

WAUSAU, Wis. — A Wausau police officer is receiving national recognition for his heroic acts, according to local news sources.

Officer Thomas Peterson has saved the lives of two young children while on duty. According to Wausau Daily Herald, Officer Peterson revived a 2-year-old on January 20. The girl had no pulse after she was found facedown in a bathtub, but Officer Peterson struck her on the back and brought her back to consciousness before ambulance crews arrived on scene.

The officer performed a similar maneuver on a 7-month-old choking baby in October 2008, according to Peterson has also won awards for protecting presidential candidates campaigning in Wausau in 2004 and saving a choking colleague in the Marathon County sheriff’s department in 1987.

In an interview with, Wausau's police chief praised Officer Peterson for his efforts.

"They're in a negative world. They deal with the seedy part of our society and they don't get a lot of thanks, and it is a tough job. When they are recognized for their efforts it really goes a long way," says Chief Jeff Hardel.

Peterson is one of 48 police officers, firefighters and paramedics currently nominated for the award. Each week, the public votes for finalists to be considered for the award winner, which will be selected at a later date.

To see Peterson's nomination and to vote, visit AMW's Web site at

NEWS: One-third of traffic fatalities in Cook Co. linked to drinking and driving: study

From the Chicago Sun-Times

'Drunk driving is a violent crime'

February 27, 2010

A new analysis of road fatalities in Cook County finds a third of traffic deaths linked to drinking and driving.

In all of Cook County, there were nearly 6,000 traffic fatalities between 1994 and 2008, according to an analysis done by the Scripps Howard News Service.

The collar counties showed a similar link between drinking and road deaths.

Analyzing data from across the nation, Scripps Howard listed Cook County's portion of Interstate 94 as the 11th most dangerous road in the nation, with 301 fatalities between 1994 and 2008.

"People still don't understand that drunk driving is a violent crime," said Susan McKeigue, state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving-Illinois. "They think Uncle Ted getting snookered on Christmas Eve and driving away is funny."

MADD's statistics show that half of those involved in drunken driving accidents have never been stopped or arrested before for DUI, said McKeigue.

Police overall "are doing a good job," she said. "They're making the stops, writing the tickets, following the cases. But when they get to court, there's a problem. The cases get pled down."

To that end, MADD will launch a court-monitoring initiative in April, she said.

The routine act of driving has become the riskiest thing most Americans do, producing more horrific body counts than any modern war or terrorist act, with more than 100 people perishing every day, statistics show.

As part of the project, Scripps Howard researchers counted the number of deaths on every road in America, using data provided by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Scripps analyzed 562,712 fatal accidents from 1994 to 2008 that claimed 627,433 lives.

While the carnage has fallen in recent years -- 37,261 individuals died in vehicular accidents in 2008 -- that's still more than 10 times the number who died in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Most of the traffic fatalities can be attributed to excessive speed, alcohol-impairment or failure to wear seat belts. Drivers distracted while texting, eating or using their cell phones are also a growing concern.

The roads with the highest death counts are predominately heavily used interstate highways. But others roads also can be killers. For example, in north suburban Lake County, 30 people were killed on Illinois 173. In Will County, 30 were killed on Illinois 53.

Motorists also appear to drive differently on different kinds of roads. About 24 percent of all fatal accidents along interstates involved drinking. But drinking was reported for fatal crashes 31 percent of the time on state roads and 39 percent of the time on county roads.

"People may feel more comfortable drinking and driving in rural areas, thinking that they are not as likely to get caught as on major roads," concluded Lee Munnich, director of the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety at the University of Minnesota.

A look at traffic fatalities for every county in Illinois and across the nation can be found at www.scrippsnews .com/killerroads.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Open post (Post what you like)

NEWS: (National) Off-duty Dallas officer 'pointed gun illegally'


--This is bad. This sends a very bad message to police officers.--

Senior Cpl. Mike Jones was placed on administrative leave

Dallas Morning News

DALLAS — An arrest warrant was issued Thursday for a Dallas police officer who is accused of illegally pointing his gun at a man and ordering him to his knees during an off-duty confrontation in July.

Senior Cpl. Mike Jones, who joined the department in 1999, faces a Class A misdemeanor charge of deadly conduct, an offense punishable by up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Jones was placed on administrative leave on Wednesday. A conviction would cost him his job.

Jones, 42, was expected to turn himself in at the Dallas County Jail. He told police investigators that he ordered a man who was urinating on a wall at an apartment complex on Washington Avenue in Old East Dallas to stop. He said that when the man didn't follow his commands, and after he identified himself as a police officer, he drew his weapon and ordered Brandon Schroder, 23, to his knees.

The decision by prosecutors to pursue criminal charges against Jones immediately riled officers throughout the Dallas Police Department, with many saying Jones was being punished for simply doing his job.

"It sends a very bad message to police officers," said Glenn White, president of the Dallas Police Association.

"He did everything by the book," said White. "It's not like he clocked the guy in the back of the head, split the guy's head and left him. If someone does not comply with loud, clear verbal instructions, you go to plan B."

John Haring, Jones' attorney, said, "Officer Jones was only doing his job and he looks forward to presenting his side of the story in court."

The Dallas County district attorney's office declined to comment other than to say that prosecutors determined the facts of the case constituted deadly conduct.

"I can confirm that we made the decision that it was a misdemeanor offense, not a felony offense. There was no need to go to a grand jury," said First Assistant District Attorney Terri Moore.

Harvey Hedden, executive director of the International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association, said the actions that Jones took do not appear to violate the training that police give law officers.

"To me, [the arrest] does seem like an overreaction and might have a chilling effect on how officers might interrupt criminal activity in their off-duty hours," Hedden said.

According to police records, the confrontation occurred about 6:45 p.m. at the AMLI at Cityplace apartments, where at the time Jones provided security work and had an apartment. Schroder and his friends had been drinking all day, the records state.

Jones wrote in his police report of the incident that he had just returned to the complex when he noticed a swimsuit-clad Schroder urinating on a wall. Jones, dressed in civilian clothing, told Schroder to stop and go somewhere else. Schroder continued to urinate, the report states.

Jones then identified himself as a Dallas police officer and displayed his badge. When Schroder ignored him, Jones wrote, he showed him his badge and was again ignored. Still showing his badge, he then pointed his service weapon at Schroder and ordered him to his knees.

Jones then wrote Schroder a ticket for urinating in public, an offense punishable by a fine. Information on what happened to the citation was unavailable.

Schroder, who didn't want to immediately comment on the case, filed a complaint with the police, telling investigators that Jones simply screamed at him to stop, pulled a gun on him and ordered him to his knees.

"The complainant did not realize the suspect was an officer until he observed suspect's identification," the report said. "The complainant believed the suspect to be a person that was going to cause him injury by shooting him."

Jim Bristo, vice president of the Dallas Fraternal Order of Police, said it is not unusual for an officer to draw his weapon when lawful orders are ignored. "This all seems to be to be a witch hunt," he said.

Hedden said officers are trained that when confronting someone, even those committing a minor violation, they should draw their weapon if the person does not respond to verbal commands after a police officer identifies himself.

"It's better to have a weapon out and in hand than to have it in a holster especially in a situation where someone is acting suspiciously," said Hedden, a former police officer.

In off-duty situations, officers need to be even more cautious because they typically don't have a radio, baton, handcuffs or an easy way to call for backup, he said.

He also said ordering a violator to his knees or even to make him lie face-down is standard police procedure for controlling a suspect. "By putting themselves on their knees it makes them less likely to attack him and easier to control," Hedden said.

NEWS: (National) Gun rigged to kill Calif. gang detectives


By John Asbury

HEMET, Calif. — For the second time in recent months, Hemet gang detectives have been targeted in an assassination attempt, this time through a gun rigged to fire at officers as they arrived at work.

A member of the Hemet-San Jacinto Gang Task Force stepped out of his car to open a rolling security gate at the task force office Tuesday afternoon when a bullet whizzed past within a few feet of him, Hemet police Lt. Duane Wisehart said. No one was injured.

An altered firearm had been set up as a booby trap attached to the fence around the office, which is off Florida Avenue near the Hemet police station, Wisehart said.

The incident happened about 1:30 p.m. It was the first time that day anyone had opened the gate, Wisehart said.

The bullet was recovered 100 yards away, in a nearby parking lot across Buena Vista Street, he said.

"It's getting to the point officers are more vigilant about their surroundings than ever before," Wisehart said. "This one was definitely close. It's a little unnerving."

The same building was targeted New Year's Eve by someone who rerouted a gas line that filled the office with natural gas. Police said the building could have exploded when someone stepped inside and turned on a light switch or caused static electricity.

No damage resulted. Officers opened the door, smelled natural gas and cleared the area, which was then ventilated.

Detectives investigating that incident were able to lift a fingerprint and DNA from the roof of the building. That is being studied .

Police said they suspect gang members were responsible in both cases, although the investigation has not been limited to gang members.

People whom the task force previously contacted or investigated will be examined to determine if they played a role in either act. No arrests have been made and no specific gangs or gang members have been linked to them.

There are no surveillance cameras on the property and police did not describe any additional security measures taken after the first attack, though the office was slated to move after the New Year's Eve incident. Officers remain at the site because a new building hasn't been found, Wisehart said.

Police did not receive any threats before either incident.

The first followed increased pressure being put on gangs throughout the San Jacinto Valley, but Wisehart said no additional enforcement had been going on.

About six officers work out of the location. The task force is made up of Hemet police officers, Riverside County sheriff's deputies, district attorney's investigators and parole and probation officers.

NEWS: Oakton joins Harper in offering 4-year degree program

From the Daily Herald

Starting this June, area police officers, firefighter-paramedics and emergency management personnel can begin to earn a four-year bachelor's degree at Oakton Community College's Des Plaines campus, and get a portion of their tuition waived.

Oakton and Northern Illinois University this week unveiled a new degree program - bachelor of science in applied management with an emphasis in public safety - for first responders.

NIU's applied management degree was accredited by the Illinois Board of Higher Education in August. The program will have two areas of emphasis: public safety management and computer information systems, with additional specialized areas in the works.

NIU inked the same deal with Harper College in Palatine last fall, when Oakton was nearing an agreement to bring the degree to Des Plaines. Harper's program begins in August.

Yet unlike Harper, Oakton will provide tuition waivers to three employees per fire or police department yearly, which equates to 12 credit hours per year through the spring 2012 semester, said Bill Paige, Oakton spokesman.

"This applies to in-district public safety personnel as well as all NIPSTA (Northeastern Illinois Public Safety Training Academy) members," he said.

The Glenview-based academy provides training in management and emergency response to fire, police, public works and other public safety personnel throughout the state.

"The applied baccalaureate degree is both practical and flexible, making it highly appropriate for the thousands of employees trained by NIPSTA to serve our region," Oakton President Margaret Lee said.

The degree program is open to anyone with an associate of applied science degree from any community college, in an NIU-approved specialty area, such as criminal justice, law enforcement, fire science or emergency management, and computer information systems.

Students will complete all course work at the Des Plaines campus. Oakton staff will teach general education courses, while degree-specific courses will be taught by NIU faculty. NIU will ultimately award the degree.

NIU President John Peters said the program is designed for working professionals offering educational opportunities close to work and home.

"We look forward to developing additional programs at other area community colleges in the near future," he said.

Information sessions about the new program will be held at Oakton in late March and early April. For details visit or call Oakton's Office of College Advancement at (847) 635-1806 or NIU BSAM Academic Adviser Colleen Barker at (815) 753-0114.

NEWS: (Chicago) $5M award to family of woman who died in police custody

From the Chicago Tribune

A federal jury in Chicago has awarded $5 million to the family of a 46-year-old woman who died in Chicago police custody after complaining of heart problems.

The U.S. District Court jury found Thursday against four police officers and a citizen's aide accused of ignoring Patricia Cobige's pleas for pain treatment for a heart condition while she was being held in a police station in 2006.

An attorney for the Cobige family said Cobige died because officers didn't give her two aspirin.

But a spokeswoman for Chicago's Law Department said that notion was an unreasonable assertion. Law department spokeswoman Jennifer Hoyle said an expert for the plaintiff testified there was nothing to have alerted the officers that Cobige had cardiac problems.

Hoyle said the city is reviewing possible appeal options.

--The Associated Press

NEWS: (National) Arrest made in cold case

From the Chicago Sun-Times

February 26, 2010

PUEBLO, COLO. -- A Joliet man has been charged with murder after police recently reviewed a 27-year-old "cold case."

On Aug. 31, 1982, Cheryl Valdez, 24, and Thomas R. Cortinas were driving and stopped at an intersection in Pueblo when Cortinas reportedly stabbed his then-wife's best friend.

Pueblo Chief Jim Billings said Cortinas ran the woman over and left the vehicle on top of her before fleeing on foot. She was alive when help arrived, but died from her stab wounds in the hospital.

"Cortinas, 58, was a prime suspect (immediately, but) a court ruled certain statements he made during the initial investigation were inadmissible due to a 'coercive interview environment,'" Billings said. "The court also cited spousal privilege in ruling that certain information obtained by detectives from Cortinas' then-wife could not be used against him, and the district attorney's office ordered all charges dropped."

Re-opening the case
In January, Valdez's family asked the department to review the case because of the advancements in forensic technology. Investigators re-examined the physical evidence and conducted additional interviews with the original witnesses, "(leading) to the development of additional evidence," Billings said.

A first-degree murder warrant was issued last week and detectives tracked Cortinas to a residence of 7213 Courtwright Drive.

Joliet police said Pueblo police officers and a district attorney arrived to arrest Cortinas, and Joliet officers were asked to keep the residence under surveillance.

On Sunday, police reportedly spoke with a relative who told them Cortinas was planning to open a produce store in Tennessee and had been commuting back and forth while preparing to move there permanently.

Police allegedly attempted to lure Cortinas to the area. When that was unsuccessful, the detectives notified him there was a murder warrant.

Sources said Cortinas agreed to turn himself in and claimed to be in the Joliet area -- but cell phone data indicated he was in southern Illinois.

"Cortinas was contacted a couple hours later and stated this time that the detectives could 'go to hell' and he was going to Mexico, because he was not going to jail for something he didn't do," a source said.

Phone records reportedly showed Cortinas was heading south through Tennessee around the same time state police reported a high-speed pursuit of a black Chevrolet Trailblazer that got away from officers.

Records indicate Cortinas owns a black Chevrolet Trailblazer.

The U.S. Marshal service was called into the chase and Cortinas was arrested Monday morning in Tennessee. He is now awaiting extradition to Colorado.

NEWS: (National) 15 years for Facebook blackmailer

From the Chicago Sun-Times

WIS. | Teen posed as girl; boys sent him nude photos

February 26, 2010

WAUKESHA, Wis. -- A Wisconsin teen who used a Facebook scam to collect naked pictures from his classmates and later blackmail the boys for sex has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Anthony Stancl, 19, of New Berlin, said in court Wednesday that he was "deeply, deeply sorry for the pain and suffering I have caused.''

Stancl pleaded no contest in December to felony charges of repeated sexual assault of a child and third-degree sexual assault.

Investigators said he posed as a girl on Facebook and tricked more than 30 male classmates into sending him naked photos of themselves. He then used the photos to blackmail seven boys between the ages of 15 and 18 for sex.

Prosecutors noted that when Stancl was 13 years old, he was convicted of having sexual contact with a 3-year-old boy and served 10 days in secure detention.

Judge Mac Davis said he was concerned that Stancl's Facebook scam showed planning, effort and a "gift" for manipulation.

"Now that we know he has that skill, there'll always be the danger this could happen again," Davis said. "I am afraid of what he can and might do."

Court documents accuse Stancl of pretending to be a girl when he contacted other students at New Berlin Eisenhower High School through the Facebook social networking site between spring 2007 and November 2008.

The investigation began after a 16-year-old boy told authorities he was being blackmailed into acts of oral and anal sex with Stancl. The boy, then 15, had exchanged explicit pictures of himself online with a girl he thought was named "Kayla," who later threatened to distribute his picture at school unless he agreed to the acts with Stancl.

The boy agreed to at least four sex acts, but when "Kayla" asked him for a nude photo of his brother he went to his parents and the police.

R.I.P.: Calif. Officer Killed, Two Others Wounded

Blue Line
Originally uploaded by Dukes Blotter
Associated Press Writer

SANGER, Calif. --

A gunman opened fire Thursday on authorities who tried to serve search warrants at his mobile home in Central California, killing one law enforcement officer and wounding two others before barricading himself in the residence during a raging gunbattle that also left him dead.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said authorities used a robot equipped with cameras to confirm the suspect's death Thursday evening following a tense, daylong standoff outside the home in Minkler, a tiny village in a rural section of the San Joaquin Valley.

It was not immediately clear if his injuries were self-inflicted or suffered as he exchanged hundreds of bullets with officers, Dyer said. Authorities need to fingerprint the man to confirm his identity before releasing his name, he said.

About an hour before the robot was sent in, a woman who was inside the home voluntarily came out with a dog spattered in blood, according to Dyer. Her relationship to the gunman was not immediately known and detectives were interviewing her Thursday night, Dyer said.

The bloodshed started just before 10 a.m. when two Fresno County Sheriff's deputies and a state fire official arrived at the mobile home to serve the warrants connected to a series of arsons and a Tuesday shooting allegedly involving the gunman, Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said.

Mary Novack, who runs a convenience store across the highway, said authorities used a loudspeaker to repeatedly order someone inside to surrender, then smashed down the door.

She saw deputies go inside before hearing gunfire.

"Oh my God, somebody's going to be dead," Novack recalled thinking at the time.

She later saw an officer on the ground.

Both deputies were shot, one fatally, Mims said. The surviving Fresno County deputy was in stable condition.

"We lost a good deputy sheriff today," Mims said.

A police officer from the nearby city of Reedley was critically wounded while responding to a call for backup, Mims said.

The names of the deputies and officer were not immediately released. Reedley City Manager Rocky Rogers said the wounded officer, who he identified as Javier Bejar, was on life support and not expected to recover.

Rogers said Bejar, who had two years on the police force, was being kept alive so that his family can pay their last respects.

"He had a very commanding presence about him, being a former U.S. Marine," Rogers said.

Mims said the shooter was suspected in a recent series of suspicious fires involving sheds and other outbuildings and of randomly firing a weapon from his home on Tuesday.

Authorities had no contact with the suspect after Thursday's gun battle, she said.

Minkler, which has a population of about 30 people, is located along the scenic highway to Kings Canyon National Park.

Novack said a man and a woman lived in the mobile home located on sprawling rural property owned by another family in Minkler. They sometimes came to her store for cigarettes and soda, but Novack said she did not know their names.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Duke's Blotter Live - Tonight 9 PM

On this episode we discuss the recent controversies surrounding the death of Chicago police Sgt Alan Haymaker.
Also up will be stronger sentences for Heroin dealers, changing the "good time" policies for inmates, and the proposed STANDUP Act to change driving requirements for teenagers.
We will also look at problems with pensions and dying on duty.
A look at recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court is also the agenda.

Hope to see you there.

Simply click on the "Listen" button to the right, when you get to the show page just look for the play/chat button.

If you want to use the chat feature of the show you must be a free registered listener at Blog Talk Radio.

NEWS: No felony murder charge in Chicago cop's death

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Larry Brown, 29, of Markham, is charged with one count of felony burglary, Cook County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said today.

February 25, 2010

Police in Chicago have made an arrest in the burglary that Sgt. Alan Haymaker was responding to when he crashed on Lake Shore Drive and was killed early Monday, but prosecutors don't plan to charge the man in Haymaker's death.

Larry Brown, 28, of Markham, is charged with one count of felony burglary, Cook County State’s Attorney spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said today.

Police Supt. Jody Weis had said earlier this week that prosecutors might charge anyone involved in Monday's burglary of a cellphone company on North Clark Street with felony murder, based on the legal theory that the commission of the burglary led to the death of Haymaker, 56, a third-generation Chicago cop who worked out of the Town Hall district on the city’s North Side.

But Simonton said today: “There is not sufficient legal basis to charge the offender . . . . . . in connection with the death of Sgt. Haymaker. While we certainly understand the pain and anguish felt by the Chicago Police Department in the wake of this tragedy, we don’t have the evidence that would be required to meet the burden of proof to sustain a felony murder charge.”

At a court appearance today, Cook County Judge Ramon Ocasio III set bail for Brown at $100,000 on the new charge but ordered him held without bail because his latest arrest was a violation of the terms of his probation for an earlier burglary conviction.

Brown was sentenced to two years probation in December for that earlier burglary, Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto told the judge.

Scaduto said Brown admitted acting as the lookout for Monday’s burglary, while others “threw a car battery through the window” to break in at Consolidated Communications, 3167 N. Clark.

Brown came to court in black jeans, a white long-sleeved T-shirt and a black, hooded top. He spoke only to confirm his name and to indicate that he understood the charges he faces.

Beside the burglary charge, he’s also charged with obstructing identification, Scaduto said, for initially lying to police when they asked his name, giving a phony name. He was identified by his fingerprints.

Haymaker, the father of three, is being memorialized today and Friday.

Visitation for Haymaker is from 3 to 9 p.m. today and at 10 a.m. Friday at Bethel Community Church, 7601 W. Foster, with a funeral service at the church starting at 11 a.m. Friday.

NEWS: Dugan execution a long way off, if ever

From the Chicago Tribune

In November, a DuPage County judge set Thursday for the execution of Brian Dugan for the 1983 rape and murder of Jeanine Nicarico.

But the day will come and go with Dugan's life intact.

Judge George Bakalis selected Feb. 25 because it is the 27th anniversary of the date that 10-year-old Jeanine was kidnapped from her Naperville home and killed by Dugan.

While state law mandated that Bakalis set a date, it also automatically stayed the sentence from being carried out until all possible appeals are concluded. Plus, there has been a moratorium on executions in Illinois since 2000.

Dugan, 54, was sentenced to death by lethal injection after a six-week sentencing hearing. He lives along with 15 other inmates on Illinois' death row in the Pontiac Correctional Center. He has been in prison since 1985, serving two life sentences for two other murders.

Illinois law dictates that people sentenced to death in Illinois automatically have their cases appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois attorney general's office will represent the state and argue that Dugan received a fair trial and should be executed. The 2nd District Illinois appellate defender's office has been appointed to represent Dugan. The written appeals are expected to be filed later this year. It can take up to a decade or longer for a defendant on death row to have all of his appeals heard and ruled upon.

"I would love to be involved in the retrial," said Steven Greenberg, one of Dugan's five attorneys during the sentencing hearing. "This case has a lot of issues to deal with, starting with the exclusion of some evidence and ending with how the verdict was returned.

"You can tell where the judge's thoughts were on this case by the selection of the date that he chose for the first execution date."

On Wednesday, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett reflected on the case and sought to bolster his long-standing claim that the mistakes of past prosecutors and police in the almost 3-decade-old Nicarico saga were righted under his regime.

He said the three men originally charged in 1984 with the crime never should have been charged or tried.

"Anybody who looks at what the evidence was then and what it is now would have to say these guys are innocent," said Birkett, referring to Rolando Cruz, Alejandro Hernandez and Stephen Buckley, who eventually were cleared.

And he said he believes he has wrongly paid a political price because of his perceived role in the case. Were it not for his association with the case, Birkett said, "Right now I'd be the attorney general or the governor."

Illinois hasn't executed anyone since 1999. After placing a moratorium on executions in 2000, then-Gov. George Ryan commuted the sentence of more than 160 inmates on the state's death row in 2002.

--Art Barnum

NEWS: Birkett: 'DuPage 7' prosecutor urged flawed case against Cruz

From the Chicago Sun-Times

NICARICO MURDER | Says Kunkle earlier reviewed case for Jim Ryan

February 25, 2010

BY TOM FRISBIE Staff Reporter

The special prosecutor whose investigation led to criminal charges against seven DuPage County law officers for their handling of the Jeanine Nicarico murder case earlier had told prosecutors they had a "moral obligation" to try the case, DuPage County State's Attorney Joe Birkett said Wednesday.

Birkett said William J. Kunkle, who in 1999 prosecuted the so-called DuPage 7 case, had five years earlier reviewed the case for then-State's Attorney Jim Ryan. At that time, the Illinois Supreme Court had just overturned the second conviction of one of the Nicarico defendants, Rolando Cruz.

Kunkle told Ryan "not only is there sufficient evidence to go forward, you have a moral obligation to take the case to trial," Birkett said.

Birkett also said he at the time recommended the case against Cruz be dismissed and re-investigated because there wasn't enough evidence.

Edward Kowal, then chief DuPage judge, was aware of Kunkle's earlier involvement in the case when Kowal appointed him to lead the probe after Cruz was acquitted in 1995, Birkett said.

But Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, said it would have been improper for Kunkle to act as a legal counsel to Ryan on the case and subsequently lead an investigation into it. "If that is not a conflict, it is mind-boggling to me," Warden said.

Birkett said, "Kunkle was given transcripts and the reports and reviewed the case."

But Kunkle, now a Cook County judge, said Wednesday his opinions about whether Cruz should be retried primarily relied on the Supreme Court decision overturning Cruz's conviction.

"Based on the Supreme Court decision, I could very easily have said based on their own judgments they could proceed with the case, and their office had sufficient expertise to do so," he said.

Jeanine was abducted and murdered on Feb. 25, 1983. Cruz was among three men originally charged. Charges against a third defendant eventually were dropped, but Cruz and co-defendant Alejandro Hernandez were sentenced to death in 1985.

The courts overturned their convictions twice before Cruz was acquitted, and charges were dropped against Hernandez in 1995.

Last year, Brian Dugan pleaded guilty to murdering Jeanine and was sentenced to death. The seven law officers charged in the DuPage Seven case all were acquitted.

BREAKING NEWS: Man charged in burglary linked to officer's death

From the Chicago Tribune

A suspect has been arrested and charged in the burglary that Chicago Police Sgt. Alan Haymaker was responding to when he died in a crash earlier this week.

The suspect, who has not yet been identified by authorities, has been charged with felony burglary, police sources said.

Sources say the investigation is continuing.

Earlier, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said the department was looking into possible murder charges against anyone arrested in the burglary.

Felony murder charges require that a death occurred during the commission of certain other felony crimes, including burglary. But some legal experts say given the distance Haymaker was from the scene it may be difficult to make such charges stick. Prosecutors would need to prove the burglar should have foreseen that his actions could cause the death of a responding officer, they said.

The burglary charge comes on the same day as the wake for Haymaker. Visitation will be from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., with a St. Jude memorial at 7 p.m., at the Bethel Community Church, 7601 W. Foster Ave.

His funeral Friday will begin with public viewing at 10 a.m., followed at 11 a.m. by church services at Bethel. Following the services police will escort the family to private interment services.

Haymaker crashed on a stretch of Lake Shore Drive near the southbound exit for Irving Park Road early Monday morning after he was called to a cell-phone store in the 3100 block of North Clark Street where the store window had been smashed and dozens of phones stolen.

The Cook County medical examiner's office ruled Haymaker died of multiple injuries sustained in the crash.

Police Blotters February 25, 2010

Click on the town your interested in.

>>Franklin Park, Northlake<<

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


>>Elmwood Park, River Grove<<

>>Harwood Heights, Norridge<<

>>Forest Park<<

>>Oak Park<<

>>Park Ridge<<

>>River Forest<<


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

NEWS: (Cook County) Alvarez outlines new approach to fight juvenile prostitution

From the Daily Herald

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez testified before Congress Wednesday on child prostitution, saying she had organized a special-prosecution initiative aimed at the root of the problem in human trafficking.

Testifying before the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights and the Law, headed by Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, Alvarez said juvenile prostitutes are typically homeless or runaway children engaging in "survival sex" by "exchanging sex for food, clothing and a safe place to sleep."

She cited an Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority study showing that 73 percent of prostitutes in a survey said they had entered the sex trade before the age of 18, and one-third said it was "because they owed the individual who had recruited them because of the provision of food, clothing or gifts."

She said these youths made easy prey for street gangs and other forms of organized crime, which typically added drug addiction to the mix to keep them engaged in the sex trade.

"The economic gain of child prostitution or trafficking greatly outweighs the risks," Alvarez said, pointing to how one juvenile prostitute had been reluctant to testify against her pimp because he bought her Subway sandwiches whenever she wanted.

"It's clear that when vulnerable young women are equating the trade of sex for a deli sandwich," she added, "we all must realize the agonizing human toll the problem is taking on our young generation and potentially generations to come."

Alvarez said her office typically treats juvenile prostitutes as victims, not criminals, and that new tactics were called for to attack the source of the problem.

"The traditional approach we have taken with juvenile prostitution has simply not been effective," she said.

Alvarez said her office created a new initiative aimed at organized crime and human trafficking within her office's Special Prosecutions Bureau last July. Working with other law-enforcement jurisdictions, such as the Chicago Police Department, it attempts to "connect the dots" showing how juvenile prostitutes are recruited and retained by organized crime and "hold accountable the individuals and groups truly responsible for these horrific offenses."

Alvarez said at this point the major obstacle was "lack of funding" given budget constraints at various levels of government.

NEWS: (Chicago) Nearly 200 Police Officers Honored At Ceremony


Four Chicago Police officers who ran into a smoke-filled apartment building to rescue a senior citizen from a fire were among 199 CPD members honored Wednesday at the monthly Commendation Ceremony.

Police Supt. Jody Weis presented awards to officers who distinguished themselves and the department through heroic deeds and praiseworthy accomplishments, according to a release from police.

Among the honorees were officers Daniel O'Toole, Peter White, Ted Jozefczak and Christopher McHugh, who received a Lifesaving Award for saving the life of a senior trapped in a building fire.

The officers responded to a fire in a multi-unit residential building and found smoke billowing from several apartment windows. They saw an elderly resident screaming for help for a second-floor window and, despite the lack of protective equipment, traversed a smoke-filled hallway and felt their way up the stairwell.

Hearing faint sounds from within an apartment, they forced the door open, found the person and guided them to safet through the smoke-engulfed hallway, the release said.

A Department Commendation was presented to Officer Ann Alvear, an asset forfeiture investigator who investigated an unusual amount of pedestrian and vehicular traffic at a residence. It was determined that the owner was a member of the Black Disciples street gang who had served a sentence in federal prison, the release said.

An 11-month investigation led to a mortgage fraud and money-laundering operation which involved 12 targeted individuals and included 62 high-end properties, primarily in the South Loop, with mortgages totaling over $27.5 million. Conspirators were arrested and proceeds were recovered and seized, including drugs, several vehicles and $1 million dollars in cash, the release said.

Sgts. Margaret Morrissey and Richard Dowling received a Department Commendation for catching a suspect who attempted an armed robbery at a restaurant and fired a gun at police, the release said.

Morrissey was informed that an offender had just attempted to rob the store with a handgun and was fleeing with the firearm in his hand. She followed the offender and called for help. Dowling arrived to assist as Morrissey ordered the offender to stop. The offender turned and fired one shot, the release said.

Morrissey fired back, but the offender continued to run, but was later found crouching in a gangway. The handgun and disguise used during the attempted robbery were also found and the suspect was charged, the release said.

Visitation Info for C.P.D. Sgt Alan Haymaker

Chicago Police Department Sgt. Alan Haymaker EOW - 2/22/10

Visitation - Bethel Community Church,

7601 w. Foster, Chicago, IL 60656, on

Thursday, 25 February 2010 from 1500 - 2100 hours and

Friday, 26 February 2010 from 1000 - 1100 hours.

St. Jude- Thursday, 25 February 2010 at 1900 hours

Funeral - Bethel Community Church,

7601 w. Foster, Chicago, IL 60656 on

Friday, 26 February 2010 at 1100 hours.

Interment - Maryhill Cemetery,

8600 N. Milwaukee,

Niles, IL 60714.

NEWS: Reports that Berwyn police chief has resigned


By Joe Sinopoli,
Berwyn Life
Posted Feb 22, 2010 @ 06:59 PM
Last update Feb 23, 2010 @ 10:36 AM
Berwyn, IL —

The Independent Voters of Berwyn and Third Ward Alderman Margaret Paul are reporting that Berwyn Police Chief William Kushner resigned and will leave his post as chief on March 5.

In an e-mail message to IVB members dated Feb. 22, Chairman Steven Shonder said the group “regrettably” heard of Kushner’s resignation this weekend.

Shonder said in a phone interview he has had no personal contact with Kushner, but heard the chief circulated an e-mail to all department heads announcing his plans to retire.

Shonder added it was not good news.

“We thought he did a great job,” Shonder said. “ He came in after Frank Marzullo so he was a huge breath of fresh air, a new level of professionalism.”

Shonder’s message to IVB members suggested they attend the City Council Meeting on Feb. 23 if they want to comment on the subject during the meeting’s open forum.

Attempts to reach City Administrator to Brian Pabst to verify Kushner’s resignation were unsuccessful.

Third Ward Alderman Margaret Paul also issued a statement that she learned Kushner had tendered his resignation to Mayor Robert Lovero and department heads were informed by Kushner on Feb. 22.

Paul also encouraged residents to attend the Feb. 23 meeting to offer their thanks to Kushner and offer their thoughts on what qualifications his replacement should have.

Paul added she had no information on who Lovero would appoint as chief.

NEWS: Chicago the hub for Mexico cartel?

Follow uo to article posted on Feb 19 >>

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Alleged leader in Sinaloa organization denies moving billions in cocaine through here

February 24, 2010

BY NATASHA KORECKI Federal Courts Reporter

A man described by authorities as a high-ranking leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel pleaded not guilty Tuesday to wide-ranging drug conspiracy charges that accuse him of helping bring in tons of cocaine and heroin to Chicago, New York, New Jersey and California.

The alleged second-generation cartel leader, Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, 34, was brought to Chicago last week and charged in what authorities say is the largest international narcotics conspiracy case in the city's history.

And his extradition was described as one of the most significant in years from Mexico, where the authorities say the Sinaloa organization is among the powerful drug cartels contributing to the country's ongoing drug war.

Security was beefed up in around the federal courtroom for Tuesday's hearing.

Zambada-Niebla was indicted last August with his father, Ismael "el Mayo" Zambada-Garcia, and Joaquin "el Chapo" Guzman-Loera, who are both accused of directing factions of the Sinaloa cartel.

Also charged was reputed cartel leader Arturo Beltran-Leyva, who was killed in a standoff with Mexican authorities in December.
Heavy court security

Court filings in the case, led by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Chicago, say that the conspiracy brought drugs from South America and Central America to the interior of Mexico and that the drugs were then transported to Chicago, which was used as a distribution point for the rest of the country.

Authorities say Zambada-Niebla was an influential, second-generation member of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

Vicente and Ismael Zambada used planes, boats, trucks and cars to move nearly $50 million worth of cocaine from Colombia to Chicago, New York, New Jersey and California, according to charges in a U.S. indictment. Hundreds of kilograms of cocaine were allegedly taken to Chicago.

Zambada-Niebla was arrested last year in Mexico City and was turned over to U.S. authorities on Thursday in what Justice Department officials said was a major step forward in the war on drugs.

Extraordinary security in and around the courtroom reflected the concern of federal officials about the potential for violence by the cartel, which is named for the Mexican state of Sinaloa.

Federal prosecutors say cartel members discussed striking back against the war on drugs by acquiring weapons and using them to attack unspecified Mexican and American installations. The indictment provides no details of the discussions.

Zambada-Niebla was among three dozen defendants indicted in August in Chicago and is also charged in a separate case pending in the nation's capital.

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald said last week that the extradition of Zambada-Niebla was "an extremely significant development in the United States effort to prosecute international drug importation conspiracies wherever the defendants may be operating."

Zambada-Niebla's New York-based defense attorneys, Edward Panzer and George L. Santangelo, left the courthouse declining to comment on the case. They told Judge Ruben Castillo that they would be bringing in a Chicago-based attorney to work with them.

Contributing: AP

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

NEWS: (Chicago) City to settle suit with wrongly imprisoned man

From the Chicago Tribune

Jerry Miller accused crime analyst of withholding evidence

By Jeff Coen, Tribune reporter

7:53 PM CST, February 22, 2010

The city of Chicago has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a man who contends he spent 25 years in prison for a rape he did not commit because an analyst at the old Chicago police crime lab withheld key evidence.

Jerry Miller alleged the analyst should have provided Cook County prosecutors with the results of a test that would have excluded him as a suspect in a rape nearly three decades ago. DNA testing eventually cleared Miller, now 51, who was pardoned in 2008.

With a trial slated to begin Monday, lawyers involved in the lawsuit announced a preliminary settlement that one source familiar with the terms said would cost the city millions of dollars.

Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, confirmed the case had settled pending City Council approval, but she declined to discuss details.

Miller was convicted of raping a woman in a Rush Street parking garage in 1981. A quarter-century later, DNA testing showed another man, Robert Weeks, committed the crime. But Miller, who was released from prison in 2006, alleged he should have been excluded as a suspect early on by serological testing that identified a suspect's blood type — an analysis investigators relied on in the days before DNA testing.

One of Miller's attorneys, John Stainthorp, said Monday that about 80 percent of males excrete their blood type in semen — including Weeks and Miller, tests later showed. The serological testing on a semen sample from the rape showed the attacker had type O blood, the same as Weeks. Miller has type B.

The plaintiff contended that Raymond Lenz — who had been an analyst at the crime lab, which was taken over by Illinois State Police in 1996 — failed to report to prosecutors that type B antigens weren't found in the semen stain.

A plaintiff's expert, Dr. Edward Blake, determined the test would easily have eliminated Miller as a suspect, leading the plaintiff to contend the result was deliberately withheld, Stainthorp said.

Lenz had essentially reported an inconclusive finding, but Blake found that was an impossible conclusion, Stainthorp said. "He said the semen stain was ideal for this kind of testing, and it was inconceivable to have an inconclusive result," he said.

Lenz's lawyer, Eileen Letts, declined to comment.

NEWS: Supreme Court backs police on questioning subjects


The Court approved a rewrite of the Miranda rights warning, despite complaints

Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday approved Florida's version of the well-known Miranda rights warning, despite complaints that it wasn't clear a suspect could have a lawyer present during questioning.

The court's 7-2 decision restoring Kevin Dwayne Powell's conviction is the first of several it will make this year clarifying exactly what the long-established Miranda rights require police to do.

Powell was convicted of illegally possessing a firearm after telling police he bought the weapon "off the street" for $150 for his protection. Before his confession, Powell signed a Miranda statement that included the words, "You have the right to talk to a lawyer before answering any of our questions. If you cannot afford to hire a lawyer, one will be appointed for you without cost and before any questioning. You have the right to use any of these rights at any time you want during this interview."

The Florida Supreme Court overturned the conviction, saying police did not explicitly tell him he had a right to a lawyer during his police interrogation.

But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing for the court's majority, said Powell was given enough information.

"Nothing in the words used indicated that counsel's presence would be restricted after the questioning commenced," Ginsburg said. "Instead, the warning communicated that the right to counsel carried forward to and through the interrogation."

Ginsburg praised a different version of the Miranda warning, one used by the FBI, which says in part, "You have the right to talk to a lawyer for advice before we ask you any questions. You have the right to have a lawyer with you during questioning."

"Different words were used in the advice Powell received, but they communicated the same essential message," she said.

Justice John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer disagreed with the majority's reasoning. Stevens wrote that the Florida warning "did not reasonably convey the right to talk to a lawyer after answering some questions, much less implicitly inform Powell of his right to have a lawyer with him at all times during interrogation."

Miranda rights have been litigated since they first came into being in 1966. The courts require police to tell suspects they have the right to remain silent and the right to have a lawyer represent them, even if they can't afford one.

The court has two more Miranda decisions pending, including whether officers can interrogate a suspect who said he understood his rights but didn't invoke them, and whether a request for a lawyer during interrogation can expire after a lengthy period of time.

The case is Florida v. Powell, 08-1175.

NEWS: Cook County court clerk gets three years for bribery

From the Chicago Sun-Times

Admits to taking payoffs for a false promise to win man's release from jail

February 23, 2010
By RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter

A Cook County Circuit Court clerk was sentenced today to three years in prison after pleading guilty to bribery, admitting he took money from a Texas woman and falsely promised her he would pay off a judge in exchange to win her jailed husband’s release.

Angelo Colon, 48, first met Eduardo Suke’s wife in September 2008, when she was trying to bail out her spouse on drug-trafficking charges, according to prosecutors. Colon, of the 3000 block of North Kolmar, allegedly presented a phony business card and took $3,000 from the woman at that meeting at a fast-food restaurant near the 26th and California courthouse.

Colon met the woman another time with a private investigator and continued to promise he’d help if she kept making payments, prosecutors said. At that meeting, the victim was asked to surrender Suke’s two identification cards as a member of the Kickapoo Nation.

Colon had the woman wire the remaining $10,000 to him in five separate transactions between Nov. 4, 2008, and Jan. 13, 2009, prosecutors said.

Colon’s arrest is part of an investigation into financial corruption, according to state’s attorney office spokeswoman Sally Daly, who said there was no evidence Colon ever contacted a judge to seek the jailed man's release.

Colon had been employed at the clerk’s office since 1999.

NEWS: (Chicago) Top cop eyes possible murder charges in officer's death

From the Chicago Tribune

As officers mourned the death of a Town Hall District sergeant killed in a crash while responding to a burglary, Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis said the department is determining whether murder charges can be brought against the burglars if they are caught.

"Under Illinois statutes it appears they could be charged with murder... that is something I think that we'll be looking at with the state's attorney's office," Weis said. "But I think it's something that we certainly will consider."

Weis made the comments after visiting the family of Sgt. Alan Haymaker at their Portage Park home, accompanied by two members of the 100 Club of Chicago, which supports the families of officers killed in the line of duty. They presented the family with a $15,000 check.

"It just tears at your soul...we lost a really, really good man,'' Weis said after speaking with Haymaker's family for about 10 minutes.

An autopsy conducted today determined Haymaker died from multiple injuries suffered when his squad car hit a tree and a pole. The Cook County medical examiner's office ruled the death an accident.

But Weis said the circumstances behind Monday's crash on Lake Shore Drive near the Irving Park exit remain under investigation.

He said the department is checking with the Cook County state's attorney's office to see if felony murder charges could be lodged against the burglars who broke into a cell phone store in the 3100 block of North Clark Street. Haymaker was headed when his car crashed.

At the Town Hall District, 3600 N. Halsted St., where Haymaker was assigned since December, purple and black bunting was draped over the front door in mourning for Haymaker.

Jon Kieschnick drilled through concrete and brick to honor Haymaker by hanging the bunting at the entrance to the station.

After the purple and black fabric was draped exactly as he wanted it, he stood back to take it all in.

"It's always rough," said a teary-eyed Kieschnick, who works for a company that provides bunting.

Just feet away, the U.S. flag was flying at half staff while the department's purple and black flag of mourning replaced the city flag.

Inside the station, Haymaker's colleagues wiped away tears. The bunting will serve as a bittersweet reminder for those who came to call Haymaker a friend.

"It will honor his memory and remind people of how officers put their lives on the line every day for the citizens," Lt. Marsha Feldman said.

She recalled vividly the last time she spoke to Haymaker on Sunday morning. He was just finishing up his shift when she was about to begin.

"He said, 'Good morning.' I said, 'Good morning,'" Feldman said. "And that was it. Now I wish we had a real conversation."

Fortunato Limonez, who lives a few blocks from the station, paused in front of the bunting to pay his respects.

"It's always a shame when an officer dies in the line of duty, but I'm glad he wasn't gunned down by any two-bit criminal," he said. "He died doing what he loved and every time I walk by here I will remember him."

Other officers at the station spoke of his dedication and his love for his family.

"It was like someone threw cold water on me," said Officer Larry Young. "I couldn't breathe. ... We had just been having this conversation about the future--retiring and enjoying family.

"He would always talk about whether he would remember this life in the afterlife."

It wasn't unusual for Haymaker to discuss religion, Young said. Haymaker joined the police department in late 1988, making a sharp career change from his work as an associate pastor at a Northwest Side evangelical church. He had attended Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical University.

Officer Darnitia Jackson said she worked with Haymaker for about eight years when the two worked at the Austin District, where Haymaker spent most of his career. She said she traveled to the North Side today because she wanted to show her support for him.

Jackson recalled how Haymaker was so interested in hearing about concerns from Austin residents that he would lead community meetings. While the meetings were originally scheduled to run a half hour, he routinely let them go for more than an hour to an hour and a half so people could air their concerns, she said.

"The community loved him,'' said Jackson. "He could talk to everyone."

Daarel Burnette II and Will Lee also contributed to this report.

--Cynthia Dizikes, Carlos Sadovi, Annie Sweeney and Duaa Eldeib

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chicago Police sergeant identified as crash victim

As reported earlier here

Officers stand by as the ambulance carrying the body of Chicago Police Sgt. Alan Haymaker leaves Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center this morning. Haymaker was answering a call about a burglary when his squad car hit a tree in the median along southbound Lake Shore Drive near Irving Park Road. (Alex Garcia/Tribune)

From the Chicago Tribune

A Chicago police sergeant answering a call about a burglary died this morning when his squad car hit a tree in the median along southbound Lake Shore Drive near Irving Park Road, police say.

Alan Haymaker, 56, was pronounced dead at 7:33 a.m. at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, according to the medical examiner's office. He had been assigned to the Town Hall District and had been on the force for 21 years, police said.

Details of the accident were not immediately available, but sources say Haymaker was on his way to a burglary in progress when he crashed his car shortly after 5 a.m.

Outside the hospital, at about 9:45 a.m., about two dozen officers saluted as Haymaker's body was carried out to Ambulance No. 6, followed by his three daughters and a son-in-law.

The ambulance was escorted to the morgue by about a dozen unmarked police cars carrying executive staff and commanders who had worked with him over the years.

The officer's family was in shock this morning as they struggled to come to terms with his death. Family and neighbors at his Portage Park neighborhood described him as a kind man.

"He always had a smile on his face," said his brother-in-law Ron Vogelpohl, of Wheaton. "He was a friendly guy and deep thinker." He was also an avid guitar player who loved classic rock.

This weekend the family was supposed to celebrate Haymaker's oldest daughter's birthday.

Haymaker's father and uncle were also Chicago police officers. Before he became a cop, he was an assistant pastor of an evangelical church in the Jefferson Park neighborhood.

"He had a career change and it became a life career," Vogelpohl said. "He knew his job was dangerous, but he didn't fear death. He was at peace with God."

Barb Welch has known Haymaker and his family since they moved into the Portage Park neighborhood more than 20 years ago.

"He will be missed," said Welch, who got a call from the family at the hospital.

Haymaker was active in his church and was "very devoted to his family, his God and his job." His three daughters range in age from 16 to about 27 or 28.

"He is a very good guy, a very godly man. It will be a great loss," Welch said. "He was a very serious man and God was a part of his life, he tried to help people who he came in contact with all the time. He was a very good man."

Whenever Haymaker spoke about his job, he understood the dangers but he didn't let it stop him from helping people, Welch said. She said she was not surprised to find out he died answering a call.

"He gave his all for everything,'' she said. "He was a very serious man. He will be missed... It is a shame, it really is."

At the Town Hall District station this morning, grim-faced officers declined to comment about their colleague. The Police Department has scheduled a news conference at 11:30 a.m. at police headquarters to talk about the accident.

The accident occurred shortly before 5:15 a.m. and police closed all four southbound lanes, forcing traffic off at the Irving Park exit. As of 6:45 a.m., all but one lane had been reopened.

Berwyn officer on personal leave after DUI, drug charges


By Staff reports
Berwyn Life
Posted Feb 16, 2010 @ 12:43 PM
Berwyn, IL —

Miscommunication between the Berwyn Police Department and City Hall lead to confusion last week regarding the status of a police officer charged with drunken driving and possession of marijuana.

The officer has taken leave from the department and is not currently working for the city as previously reported by city officials.

Police Chief William Kushner said Berwyn police officer John Magnus Jr. was taken off street patrol after his arrest in Winnebago County in November. Kushner said Magnus has elected to use vacation and furlough days to take a leave from the department.

Kushner was unsure of the exact day Magnus began his leave, and said he could not comment on an ongoing internal investigation that will not be completed until an outcome is reached in the Winnebago County case later this week.

The Berwyn Life is in the process of submitting Freedom of Information Act requests seeking additional information regarding Magnus’ employment with the city.

On Nov. 9, Magnus was arrested in Winnebago County and charged with drunken driving, possession of marijuana and driving with an expired registration, according to the Winnebago County Clerk’s office.

Magnus was released on $100 bail Nov. 10. A monitor device driving permit was granted at a hearing in Winnebago Circuit Court in January before the case was continued to Friday, Feb. 19.

The permit gives Magnus the option to continue to drive, but he must agree to install a breath alcohol interlock ignition device on his vehicle.

Berwyn Police Union Vice President James Sassetti said union attorneys declined to comment on Magnus’ status.

Earlier this month, City Administrator Brian Pabst said Magnus had continued to work for the department but was not driving a city or personal vehicle. Pabst, who has made official statements for the Police Department during his tenure with the city, said a miscommunication occurred with

Magnus’ status — first reported as still working for the city, then reported as placed on leave by the department.

“The Police Department informed me (Magnus) was being assigned to a non-driving capacity, but upon verification I learned that he is on leave and will not be back until further notice,” Pabst said last week.

Magnus, 38, is an officer with the department’s tactical unit and has been with the department since 1996.

Calls to Frank Vella Jr., a Rockford attorney listed as Magnus’ legal representation, according to Winnebago Circuit Court records, were not returned.

NEWS: Hainesville meeting to discuss police department's future

--Another department in Illinois possibly being closed down--

From the Daily Herald

Hainesville's elected officials will host a town-hall meeting regarding future police service at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb 23 at the Northbrook Sports Club, 160 Sports Club Drive.

Officials are mulling whether to continue the Hainesville Police Department or contract for service.

Officials estimate it would cost $1.3 million for the 2010-11 budget year starting May 1 for staffing and construction of a 4,000-square-foot Hainesville police station.

Mayor Linda Soto contends police can't continue operating from village hall.

By comparison, total police costs would be $711,782 by contracting with Grayslake or $791,566 through the county sheriff for 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage.

Public comment will be accepted at the town hall meeting.

NEWS: (Chicago) Mother charged in murder of newborn girl

February 22, 2010

The 25-year-old mother of a newborn has been charged with murder after allegedly hiding the baby girl in a plastic bag in her North Side closet Friday evening.

Marisol Molina, of the 6100 block of North Sheridan Road, has been charged with one count of murder, police News Affairs said Monday.

Baby girl Molina, born on Thursday, was found dead on the 6100 block of North Sheridan Road, according to a Cook County Medical Examiner’s office spokesman, who said the newborn was found dead in a closet. A Saturday autopsy come back inconclusive and is pending further studies, the medical examiner’s office said.

Marisol Molina gave live birth to the baby and then placed the baby inside a plastic bag and concealed the bag in a closet, causing her death, police said.

Police were notified of the death about 6:30 p.m. Friday, police News Affairs Officer Daniel O’Brien said. It was unclear who called police.

Loyola University Chicago's Lake Shore campus is located just blocks away.

Illinois Dept. of Children and Family Services spokesman Kendall Marlowe said the agency was not investigating the death as of Friday night. An agency spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment Monday morning.

Changing the hard cases

From the Chicago Tribune

Even when teens are already involved in violence, experts say there's hope for change

By Deborah L. Shelton

Tribune staff reporter

February 22, 2010

Lifting his Scarface sweatshirt, a lanky 19-year-old revealed the fresh surgical wound that spanned the length of his torso. A colostomy bag, visible on his left side, collected his body waste.

A street gang member, he said he has no idea who fired the gun that seriously injured him in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood in November. And he doesn't want to know, he said, because then he might be tempted to retaliate.

"It would keep going 'round," he told anti-violence worker Eddie Bocanegra as the two talked in the kitchen of his family's meager apartment. Nearby, an oversize T-shirt memorializing a friend stabbed to death two years ago in a fight hung over the teenager's bed.

"I don't want some shorty gettin' shot," he said of other youths being hurt.

Those words were music to Bocanegra's ears.

Bocanegra understands all too well the challenges of trying to change the thinking of young people who believe using a knife, gun or fist to settle a dispute is normal. A former gang member who spent 14 years in prison, he used to think the same way. Now, as a violence interrupter for CeaseFire, his job is to turn around that kind of destructive thinking.

Founder Dr. Gary Slutkin said the organization's most immediate goal is to stop retaliation. But he said the group also aims to change the social norms that feed violence.

Many experts say many factors put children at risk for falling into a pattern of violent thinking and behavior, including growing up in poverty, living in violent circumstances, failing to read at grade level by third grade, not graduating high school and not being surrounded by caring, protective adults.

Interventions at critical stages can make a difference, especially during early childhood. But even for those who fall between the cracks, those experts say, some interventions can be effective even as late as the teens and early 20s.

Many violent lives do change course, said Margaret Hughes, a professor of social work whose doctoral dissertation focused on turning points in the lives of young men who abandoned their destructive ways. She interviewed two dozen men from across the country, including Chicago.

She found several factors to be key: maturity, fatherhood, mentoring, employment, feeling valued in the community and being removed from the negative environment.

The men she interviewed talked about the importance of having alternatives to crime, connections to their neighborhoods and an understanding, on a deep level, of the damage they were causing in their communities, said Hughes, of California State University, San Bernardino.

One former drug dealer told her he stopped selling the day he saw a crying baby in a soiled diaper being neglected in a crack house.

The teen shot in Little Village, who asked not to be identified because he fears for his safety, told Bocanegra he dreams of a better life, one with a good-paying job, a nice place to live and a girlfriend. As he spoke, mice could be heard squealing in the walls.

Bocanegra encouraged his ambitions, pushing him to finish high school.

"You can leave here and come back 10 years from now and maybe help somebody else," Bocanegra said. The teenager nodded and smiled.

James Garbarino, a psychology professor at Loyola University Chicago, said mentors are most effective in helping to change thinking if they give specific, concrete advice on how to change, not merely lectures about straightening up. It helps when those mentors have walked down the same road.

Changing thoughts and beliefs about aggression is called cognitive restructuring, he said, and changing behavior requires practicing alternative responses, something known as behavior rehearsal.

"Either one by itself is not likely to do," said Garbarino, author of "Lost Boys: Why Our Sons Turn Violent and How We Can Save Them."

People like Bocanegra who have street cred can challenge beliefs about the effectiveness and necessity of violence, Garbarino said. They also can model and teach alternative behaviors -- for example, role-playing how to respond to a bump in the hallway, a disrespectful glare or a gesture perceived as threatening.

"You can't train people well in emergencies just with oral presentation," Garbarino said. "You have to simulate and role-play. That's why firefighters are always practicing in real-life simulations. Lecturing people, even sharing your story, may be inspiring, but there's no evidence that it motivates people to change their behavior."

That's why programs that attempt to scare troubled kids into behaving are widely criticized as ineffective.

"Practicing new behaviors bridges the gap between the moral message and what you should actually do," Garbarino said.

Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Children's Memorial Hospital, said many young people have not been taught socially appropriate ways of dealing with conflict.

"Not everyone needs a 10-step conflict resolution class," she said. "But a lot of young people have not learned how to walk away without losing face and that (violence) is not the best way to deal with problems."

Janell Sails, a violence interrupter for CeaseFire, said the young people she works with watch to see if she practices what she preaches. They took notice, for example, that she didn't retaliate after her car was shot up.

"It's really not what we're saying," she said. "It's what we show them."

Tio Hardiman, director of CeaseFire, said the group trains staff on how to help young people get out of an aggressive mindset when violence is all around them.

"It's about how to control yourself and back up out of the situation, how to start thinking about the future and place expectations and goals on your life," he said.

Violence is a learned behavior that can be unlearned, Hardiman said. "We have to show people to reverse what they have learned all their lives."

Several teens and young adults gathered recently at CeaseFire's storefront office in Englewood to talk about why the group's message resonated with them. One 18-year-old said all his friends had been locked up, and he expected his good luck would soon run out.

Martinez Henderson, 24, said a CeaseFire worker helped him to see the bigger picture.

"I've been shot before. I've shot at people before," he said matter-of-factly. "I see a lot of stuff is unnecessary, so (now) I let a lot of stuff pass."

Whether it is quitting cigarettes or giving up a life of violence, change isn't easy, research on behavior change has shown -- even for a motivated person.

Jermaine Rhodes, 21, joined CeaseFire as a volunteer, hoping to become a paid staff member. But at times he missed his old life.

"I enjoyed selling drugs. I had fun doing it," he said. "I enjoyed the life. I had money on me. I always dressed nice."

But he knew that life was a dead end, so he stashed enough money to keep afloat for a couple of years and called it quits.

"Now I'm broke, and I'm upset," Rhodes confessed. "I need money so I'm really missing the life."

Hughes said organizations can work on changing young people's values, thinking and behavior, but unless they can offer employment, violence and crime will always be a lure.

Several weeks after Rhodes' admission, he was hired as a violence interrupter.

The Rev. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest in Los Angeles, said that more than anything else, teens need hope. Boyle runs Homeboy Industries, one of the nation's largest gang-intervention programs.

"It's not about thinking or behavior. It's about infusing a sense of hope so the kid starts to care," Boyle said. "No one scares them straight -- you care them straight."

'All gasoline and no brakes'

Because neurobiological research has shown that the brain does not fully develop until the mid- to late 20s, changing the social norms of troubled youths is only part of the answer, one expert noted.

Teenagers simply are not biologically equipped to take full responsibility for staying on the right track, said psychiatrist Carl Bell, director of the Institute for Juvenile Research at University of Illinois at Chicago.

"The frontal lobes -- the thinking, judgment, wisdom-oriented aspects of the brain -- don't develop until 26 years old," Bell said. So adults play a critical role in controlling youth behavior -- a role Bell describes as providing "a protective shield."

"To a great extent, children are all gasoline and no brakes," he said. "It's incumbent on parents, families, schools and society to provide them with those brakes ... with expectations, rules, monitoring and social-emotional skills."