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

Officer Down

Thursday, January 31, 2013

POLITICS: A Curious Civics Lesson

--See, it is not just in Crook County. Politics is played all over the place.
It is just that in Crook County they throw it in everyone's faces and think they are above the law.--
Duke

Story at Better Government Association

In Bellwood, a superintendent is hired after campaigning for school board members. And she’s not the only school administrator in the region engaged in politics.

By Alden Loury/BGA
January 31, 2013 10:24 AM

In a perfect world, government institutions would be free of politics, especially institutions like police and fire departments, courts, hospitals and schools, simply because they provide vital services to the public. And the quality of public safety, public health and public education should not be comprised by the whims of politicians.

Unfortunately, not only do we live in an imperfect world, we live in Illinois. So that means politics is just about everywhere, even in our schools.

Take the peculiar case of Bellwood School District 88 Supt. Phylistine Murphy, who campaigned for the school board members who would ultimately hire her in a newly created position and then later promote her to the district’s top job.

It’s probably hard for Murphy to escape politics since she’s a politician herself, serving as a Bellwood village trustee. District 88 serves more than 2,800 elementary-school children in Bellwood, Broadview, Hillside, Maywood, Melrose Park and Stone Park.

In the fall of 2010, Murphy and several other elected officials from Bellwood and Stone Park campaigned for three Bellwood school board candidates, circulating nominating petitions for Daisy Allen, Janice Johnson-Starks and Joe Madrid, public records show. Perfectly legal, but also a potential conflict of interest.

All three made the ballot and were subsequently elected in April 2011, beating seven challengers for whom Murphy and the other politicians did not circulate nominating petitions.

Four months later, Allen, Johnson-Starks and Madrid joined two incumbent members in voting to create a new position, chief operating officer, and hire Murphy to fill it with an annual salary of $120,000. A year later, those three new members also voted to make Murphy the superintendent, earning $165,000 a year.

That can be viewed as "pay-to-play" or tit-for-tat or quid pro quo. But whatever the term, the bottom line is the same: The appearance of a job and a promotion not based on professional competence but on political payback.

Through it all, Murphy doesn’t view her campaign work as a conflict of interest since she didn't work for the school district at that time nor did she have immediate plans to pursue a job there. Murphy had previously worked as a superintendent in District 88 and elsewhere. As a longtime Bellwood resident and school administrator, Murphy said she envisioned returning to District 88 in some capacity "at some point, eventually, before I retired. I didn’t know that it would be now."

And Allen and Madrid said merit – not political considerations – prompted the board to re-hire and then promote Murphy. In fact, they indicated the hire was less about Murphy and more about problems the board was having with the superintendent Murphy ultimately replaced. (Johnson-Starks said she was unaware Murphy had done political work for her, but declined further comment other than to say the district needed a chief operating officer at the time Murphy was hired.)

In any event, Murphy is certainly not alone in the belief that it’s OK for school superintendents to be politically active.

An analysis of campaign finance records by the Better Government Association found at least 15 Cook County school superintendents made political contributions while in those jobs or before they were hired. Sometimes those donations went to the very school board members to whom the superintendents report.

Aside from Murphy, who donated to the Bellwood political party she and at least one of the school board members she campaigned for belong to, the donor-superintendents include: Sarah Jerome of Arlington Heights School District 25; Donna Adamic of Cicero School District 99; and Raymond Lauk of Cook County School District 130.

Lauk said he doesn’t donate to the political funds of his school board members, but likes to maintain close relationships with government officials in four towns that comprise District 130: Alsip, Blue Island, Crestwood and Robbins. As such, he paid $200 in August 2010 to attend a golf outing sponsored by the Progressive Party, a political committee supporting Blue Island village officials.

Adamic, who was hired as superintendent by District 99 in 2008, has made six $500 contributions to Cicero Town President Larry Dominick since then. As a superintendent, Adamic said she believes as a community leader it’s important for her to display leadership by supporting nonprofit organizations and political leaders. "I’m an example for my community, where I work and where I live," Adamic said.

Dominick has strong ties to the District 99 school board where his son, Derek, has been a member since 2011. Three of Adamic’s donations to Larry Dominick were made after his son was elected to the school board.

Meanwhile, Jerome said superintendents are still citizens and voters with a stake in their communities. That’s why she said she gave District 25 School Board President David Page $500 in July 2012 during his unsuccessful run for Illinois Senate, state records show. "I think I’d heard somewhere that in our role as educators, we don’t lose our rights to have a voice," Jerome said.

Page said he didn’t see the donation as a conflict of interest or as an attempt to curry favor. In fact, had he won, he would have resigned from the school system.

Some superintendent donations make sense: One top school administrator contributed to a political fund created to help pass a referendum in his district; and some superintendents contributed to a political action committee serving school administrators.

However, giving to school board members or political powerbrokers with influence in their districts is a bad idea, even if it’s allowable, because it opens the door to politicizing a public-sector job that has no business being politicized. Of course kids and their futures are at stake.

But so is money.

Back in District 88, where there’s been a revolving door of superintendents and other high-ranking administrators in recent years, insiders with knowledge of the operation say politics is eroding the quality of education and burning taxpayer dollars. For example, they tell us the district has transferred $800,000 from its education fund to its tort fund since 2010, in part to handle the political fallout of legal fees and settlement agreements resulting from lawsuits and discrimination complaints filed by departed employees.

Perhaps the suits could have been avoided if the district wasn't so politicized.

This analysis was written and reported by the Better Government Association’s Alden Loury. He can be reached at (312) 821-9036 or aloury@bettergov.org.

NEWS: State police investigating whether drugs missing from Schaumburg PD

--When it rains it pours--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

By Eric Peterson

Illinois State Police are investigating whether heroin linked to a teenager’s fatal drug overdose went missing after being turned over to the Schaumburg Police Department last year.

Village Manager Ken Fritz said the discrepancy between the amount of heroin believed to have been turned in and what the department now has in evidence doesn’t appear related to the arrest of three former officers on drug conspiracy charges earlier this month. But the discrepancy came to light as a result of the village’s internal investigation of the three officers, he said.

Fritz and state police said they couldn’t comment further because it is an ongoing investigation.

But a Schaumburg official familiar with the investigation confirmed that the discrepancy involves the number of bags of heroin a Schaumburg woman found on her property after her 19-year-old son’s September overdose.

She turned the bags over to the police hoping they could trace it to whoever sold her son drugs, but the Schaumburg official said she is claiming she took a photograph of 11 bags of heroin before submitting them, when the police evidence log registered only nine.

After reading newspaper accounts of the three undercover officers’ arrests on charges that they had sold marijuana and cocaine taken from crime scenes, she called the police department to make sure the evidence she’d submitted was still intact, the Schaumburg official said.

The state police investigation is trying to determine whether the discrepancy is a result of a miscount or some other cause, sources said.

NEWS: Much lower bonds for accused Schaumburg ex-cops

 --I really don't see them attempting to flee.
I understand everyone has the right to bail.
Doesn't mean you have to agree with it.--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

By Josh Stockinger

Bond was substantially reduced for three former Schaumburg police officers accused of skimming seized drugs and arranging for their sale.

John Cichy cried after Judge Blanche Hill Fawell agreed to lower his bond to $250,000. For the newer amount, he would have to post 10 percent, or $25,000 to be freed while awaiting his trial. A similar reduction was OK’d for Terrance O’Brien, who will need to raise $30,000 to get out of jail. The third officer, Matthew Hudak, will need to raise $35,000.

Initially, all three men were held on $750,000 cash bond, meaning thy have had to post the full amount.

Schaumburg officials announced Wednesday the officers’ resignations from the force.

As a condition of their jail release, none of the men may leave the state and must be on GPS monitors. Their arraignments are next Monday.

In motions for lower bond, all three men cited strong ties to the community and the presence of family in the area. O’Brien, a 23-year police veteran, is a married father of five, while Hudak, an eight-year veteran, is married with two young children, their attorneys say.

Cichy had about five years on the force.

Cichy has never left Illinois in his adult life and has a fear of flying.

“His whole life is tied here,” his attorney Jay Fuller said. “He has no place to go. Everybody has seen his face.”

O’Brien’s attorney, Robert Irsuto, said his client has no passport and would live with his wife.

In arguing for the lower bond, Irsuto said, “These charges are not murder charges, domestic terrorism charges. They are serious, but they are police misconduct charges.”

As members of a special investigations team, the three officers — Cichy, 30; Hudak, 29; and O’Brien, 46 — worked undercover operations involving drugs, gangs and prostitution. They were arrested earlier this month in DuPage County on charges they skimmed drugs from police seizures and used a former informant to sell the drugs.

A fourth co-defendant, Nicole Brehm, 44, of Hoffman Estates, is charged with using her home as a “stash house” for drugs.

The investigation into the officers began Jan. 2 when police discovered about 9 ounces of cocaine inside a Carol Stream storage shed.

That led to a former police informant who said he’d been dealing drugs for three Schaumburg cops who had previously arrested him. Surveillance collected over two weeks showed the officers discussing ripping off dealers and delivering drugs or money to the informant, authorities said.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

NEWS: Three arrested Schaumburg officers resign

--Once again.....MORONS!!!!!!!!--
Duke

Story at Daily Herald

From left, Matthew Hudak, Terrance O'Brien and John Cichy.
By Eric Peterson

The three undercover Schaumburg police officers arrested on drug conspiracy charges two weeks ago have resigned, village officials confirmed today.

Accused officers Terrance O'Brien, Matthew Hudak and John Cichy had been placed on paid administrative leave as soon as Schaumburg officials learned of their Jan. 16 arrests in DuPage County on multiple felony charges.

They are now officially former officers, village spokesman David Bayless said Wednesday.

Hudak resigned last week, and O'Brien and Cichy resigned Tuesday, Bayless said.

Even before the resignations, the village had moved the officers from paid to unpaid administrative leave, Bayless added.

Schaumburg officials have been preparing their own investigation of the officers' professional conduct to make a decision on their employment status. Bayless said it is unclear whether the resignations will make the continuation of that internal investigation necessary.

The officers appeared in a DuPage County courtroom today, when a judge agreed to allow cameras in court Thursday for hearings on motions to reduce their bonds. All three have remained in custody since their arrests, unable to post $750,000 bonds.

NEWS: (Chicago) January homicide count worst since 2002

--And not one of these people was killed with a so called "assault weapon".
Chicago should worry about getting more cops on the street with the ability to enforce existing laws more expeditiously.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Jeremy Gorner and Jennifer Delgado
Chicago Tribune reporters
10:33 AM CST, January 30, 2013

When Kimberly Common visited her mother in the hospital Monday, the two spoke of how much they missed Common's son, Antonio, who was slain 15 months ago at the age of 23.

By Tuesday afternoon, the family's tragedy deepened as Common's older son, Devin, 27, was fatally shot near their home in the Park Manor neighborhood a little past noon. As she stood on a sidewalk by her son's sheet-covered body, Common recalled his last words to her: "I'll be back. I'm going to the store."

"That's the same thing" Antonio said before he was killed in October 2011, the mother of two other children said as tears streamed down her face.

A little more than two hours later, a 15-year-old girl had also been shot to death, bringing to 42 the number of homicides so far in 2013, making this month the most violent January in Chicago since 2002. The bloody start to the new year comes as the Police Department hoped it had begun to turn the corner after a violent 2012 that saw homicides exceed 500, bringing unflattering national attention to Chicago.

At a press conference a day after meeting with President Barack Obama in the White House along with police chiefs from Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo. — sites of horrible mass shootings last year — Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy expressed concern and regret for the wave of gun violence as January draws to a close. Seven people were killed Saturday alone.

"It's disappointing," said McCarthy, who defended his crime prevention strategies while noting that he had sat down with some of the "brightest minds" in the country for four hours in Washington and heard little advice beyond what he's already been doing.

"You don't throw out everything you're doing because you had a bad couple of days," McCarthy told reporters. "And unfortunately today's (Tuesday) a bad day, too."

By Tuesday evening, three people had been slain — all in broad daylight — on a day in which temperatures soared to 63, a record for Jan. 29. In addition to Devin Common, a 20-year-old man was shot in the head in the East Side neighborhood at about 8 a.m.; the 15-year-old girl was shot at about 2:30 p.m. a few blocks from King College Prep after finishing classes at the North Kenwood high school.

With two days still left in the month, this marked the second consecutive January in which Chicago has hit at least 40 homicides. The 40 homicides last January represented a jump of 43 percent from 28 in January 2011. While Chicago never quite recovered over the rest of the year from an even sharper jump in violence over the first quarter of 2012, homicides fell or were flat in the year's last four months.

Crime experts caution it's way too early to suggest the disappointing January numbers mean violence in Chicago will continue at a similar pace throughout this year.

But Arthur Lurigio, a criminologist, said the January numbers sure aren't encouraging.

"It certainly bodes ill for this year's projected homicide figures because it appears to be a continuation of the violent trends observed through many months of 2012," says Lurigio, a professor at Loyola University Chicago.

The city's homicide woes continue to draw unwanted attention for McCarthy and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, including an article Tuesday in the satirical national publication The Onion that was headlined: "Chicago's Annual Homicide Drive Off To Most Promising Start In Decades."

But there was no humor to be found in violence-plagued spots principally on the city's South and West Sides.

Through Monday, the West Side's Harrison District leads the city in homicides with seven, three on Saturday alone, followed by the South Side's Englewood District with five. While it is clearly too early to draw conclusions, those numbers could be unsettling for police officials because throughout 2012, Emanuel and McCarthy had touted those two districts as successes after they flooded "conflict zones" in both with additional officers a year ago.

University of Chicago criminologist Jens Ludwig said a plausible explanation for the woeful January homicide numbers could be the budget problems confronting cities throughout the country. Emanuel's budget for 2013 calls for the hiring of an additional 500 police officers, but the police union has contended that number falls far short of the void created by cops retiring.

Ludwig said big cities such as Chicago could use help from the federal government.

"Cities can't run budget deficits when economic conditions turn down, which means that usually cities have to scale back police spending at the very time you'd want them to, if anything, increase the number of police on the streets," Ludwig said. "Only the federal government can help solve this with their ability to run budget deficits during economic downturns."

At the press conference Tuesday, McCarthy continued to emphasize that Chicago police are removing more illegal guns from the streets than authorities in any other major city in the U.S. During the first three weeks of January, he said, two of Chicago's 22 police districts seized more illegal guns than were collected in all of New York City.

But one reason for that, McCarthy said, was New York's tougher penalties for gun offenses. "... When people get caught with (illegal) guns in New York, they go to jail," he said. "… As a result they're not carrying guns with impunity."

For Devin Common's mother, the loss of her second son was almost too much to bear. Police said Common was on his way to buy coffee when he was shot Tuesday near East 75th Street and South Champlain Avenue.

Standing by his body at the crime scene, Common's sister, Jermaka, 26, cried softly as friends and neighbors embraced her and her mother.

"This didn't make no sense for him to get gunned down like that," she said. "This is not fair at all."

Tribune reporters Ellen Jean Hirst, Liam Ford and Carlos Sadovi contributed.

NEWS: Authorities continue search for Gacy victims

--Gacy has been dead for 19 years but he continues to haunt  the Chicagoland area.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Steve Mills and Patrick Svitek
Chicago Tribune reporters
9:07 PM CST, January 29, 2013

More than two years after reopening the John Wayne Gacy case, Cook County sheriff's investigators continue to probe cold case files from across the country and leads closer to home in search of additional victims of the notorious serial killer who was executed nearly two decades ago.

Among the avenues investigators are now pursuing is the case of two teenage boys who were raped and slain in Michigan in the 1970s, when Gacy's killing was at its height and he was believed to have traveled to Michigan. Sheriff Tom Dart said in a speech Tuesday that investigators are trying to determine whether a DNA match can be made while also studying Gacy's travel records.

Dart would not reveal details of the Michigan case but said it was high-profile. Authorities in Michigan had contacted Dart's office.

"We're working on that case as we speak to see if we can match his blood to some of the evidence that was taken at the crime scene," Dart said in his remarks at the City Club of Chicago. "I always found it beyond credibility to think he didn't murder elsewhere based on the fact he was such a monster."

At the same time, the investigators are examining a case from the East Coast while also planning to do work in the backyard of a building at Elston and Miami avenues on the Northwest Side, where Gacy's mother lived at one time and where witnesses have said they noticed unusual activity. Workers will scan the ground for anomalies and, if they are found, will drill small holes so cadaver dogs can sniff the area.

Workers scanned the yard and excavated spots in 1998, but an extensive dig was not conducted in spite of their finding numerous anomalies. The new work probably will not take place until early spring, according to Frank Bilecki, a spokesman for the sheriff's department.

Since the sheriff's reopening of the Gacy case was made public, the office has received about 150 leads. About half of them have been closed. Seven people who were missing have been identified — five of them alive, two dead, though neither had a connection to Gacy. Twenty-seven cases are being worked on, while an additional 28 are in earlier stages of evaluation. Twenty have been determined to have no relation to Gacy, Bilecki said.

Gacy was linked to the slayings of 33 boys and young men in the mid-1970s, most of them discovered in the crawl space of his home in Norwood Park Township. Convicted and sentenced to death, he was executed by chemical injection in 1994 and was never linked to additional victims.

The sheriff's department submitted Gacy's DNA profile to a national database late last year.

According to Dart, Gacy's travel records were "never really thoroughly examined," and his office is working with the FBI to determine whether Gacy's "extensive travel history" matches open cases across the country. If it does, sheriff's investigators plan to review those cold case files. Dart pointed to a Florida man who said that Gacy, posing as a police officer, tried to attack him. The man told investigators that he escaped, but not before throwing his wallet at Gacy.

The man's name was found on a driver's license inside Gacy's home, Dart said.

"How is it that you can imagine that someone who killed at the level this person did was not killing elsewhere?" Dart said. "And why would we not be reaching out and making sure we've exhausted ... basic stuff?"

CPD: Ex-cop, federal mole charged with extortion, selling guns to felons

--The Chicago police tow truck scandal.....The gift that just keeps on giving.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Annie Sweeney
Tribune reporter
7:17 PM CST, January 28, 2013

A former Chicago police officer whose undercover work led to charges in separate public corruption probes was himself charged Monday with extorting a tow truck operator and selling firearms to a convicted felon.

Ali Haleem becomes the 11th Chicago police officer charged in a tow truck scandal in which officers steered business to drivers for kickbacks, federal prosecutors said

According to court records and sources, Haleem worked undercover after federal authorities confronted him about the extortion in 2008, secretly recording conversations. His cooperation led to charges against a onetime campaign treasurer for former state Sen. Ricky Hendon, and six others on charges they paid kickbacks in the hopes of securing thousands of dollars in federal grants. Hendon was not charged.

Haleem’s undercover work also resulted in charges against two tax analysts for the Cook County Board of Review who allegedly pocketed a $1,500 cash payoff after agreeing to reduce property tax assessments.

Court documents in both those public corruption investigations identified the cooperating witness as a Chicago police officer who had been arrested in July 2008 as part of a probe into public corruption and gun trafficking.

The charges on Monday against Haleem alleged that in addition to extorting the tow truck operator, he also sold three firearms to the driver, who was a convicted felon who could not legally purchase weapons. Haleem resigned last September from the Police Department.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

CHICAGO OUTFIT: Mob-connected con artist pleads guilty in Internet investment scams

--Their father was Angelo Boscarino, killed in the 1960's after outfit leaders mistakenly believed he was talking to authorities.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY KIM JANSSEN
Federal Courts Reporter
kjanssen@suntimes.com
January 28, 2013 6:48PM

Anthony Boscarino promised gullible Internet investors that his betting tips were a sure thing.

Now the mob-connected con artist can be certain of another type of “lock” — the one on the door of his federal prison cell.

Boscarino — whose father was murdered by the Outfit — faces a lengthy spell behind bars after pleading guilty to spending millions of stolen dollars at Las Vegas casinos.

The 48-year-old pleaded to 37 counts of fraud, money laundering and illegal gun possession in federal court in Arizona last week, but still faces an additional 51 counts.

He stole more than $7 million and lived the high life thanks to a series of Internet scams that promised huge returns on phony investments in sports betting, a slot-machine gambling system, oil drilling and mortgage-backed securities, prosecutors say. Boscarino allegedly also asserted his mob credentials and threatened a witness. He is due to be sentenced in April.

It’s not the first time his family has hit the headlines. His brother, convicted felon Nick Boscarino’s alleged mob ties were enough to sink a Rosemont casino deal back in 2005, and their father was killed in the 1960s by mobsters who wrongly believed he was snitching to the feds.

MELROSE SEVEN: Felon works in new River Forest state rep’s local office

--What is there to say--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

By BILL DWYER and David Pollard
bdwyer@pioneerlocal.com
January 17, 2013 8:00PM
Updated: January 24, 2013 5:24AM

RIVER FOREST

Newly elected state Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch, who represents River Forest and the seventh district in Springfield, has hired a former cop convicted of a felony to run his Westchester constituent services office.

Guy “Ric” Cervone, 53, was one of seven former Melrose Park cops convicted for his part in a conspiracy to muscle Melrose Park businesses into using a security guard business owned by Vito Scavo, who was police chief at the time.

Cervone was convicted of urging officers under his command to lie to federal investigators.

A receptionist at Welch’s office, 10005 Roosevelt Road in Westchester, referred to Cervone as “the office manager” on Thursday.

A message requesting comment from Cervone was not returned Thursday. Welch’s Springfield office, which has no listed phone number, wasn’t immediately available for comment via email.

Welch edged out Forest Park village commissioner Rory Hoskins by 36 votes out of 11,945 votes cast in the March primary. He ran unopposed in the November general election.

Cervone, who was a Melrose Park police lieutenant, was indicted in 2007 as part of Scavo’s conspiracy to run a private security firm using public funds for expenses like gasoline and cars, and on-duty police paid by the village.

The day before he was to stand trial in federal court in 2009, Cervone changed his plea to guilty and admitted to corruptly influencing and obstructing the administration of justice.

Cervone was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a $5,000 fine and 250 hours of community service. Prosecutors dropped two other wire fraud charges as part of the plea deal.

“I was afraid and I did the wrong thing,” Cervone told a judge at his sentencing.

That sentence was far less than the maximum of five years in prison that the one count of obstruction carried. Federal prosecutors had asked for a 16-month prison sentence.

In December 2010, Cervone lost his police pension after a 4-1 vote by the village’s Board of Police and Fire Commissioners. At that hearing, Cervone said he was “a good police officer put in a bad situation. I didn’t know it was going on.”

Both Cervone and Welch have a strong political connection to Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico. Cervone contributed $2,050 to Serpico’s campaign funds, and he won election to the Melrose Park District 89 School Board with Serpico’s financial and campaign help.

Serpico also has long supported Welch’s political career in the same manner, helping him win three terms on the Proviso District 209 High School Board.

In 2012, Cervone received nearly $14,000 from the Welch campaign for “election day poll watchers” and for “services rendered,” according to state records.

NEWS: Three cases involving charged Schaumburg police officers dropped

--Once the landslide starts, it is nearly impossible to stop.
This will take Schaumburg PD years to recover from, but it is possible.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

More cases may be dropped in the future

By George Houde
Special to the Tribune
4:29 PM CST, January 28, 2013

Fallout from the arrest of three Schaumburg police officers charged with dealing drugs continued today as Cook County prosecutors dropped felony charges against three defendants the trio had arrested in undercover drug busts.

Several cases are being dropped in the wake of the arrests of officers John Cichy, Terrrance O’Brien and John Hudak on Jan. 16. The officers are charged with shaking down drug dealers they arrested in undercover drug busts in Schaumburg and other northwest suburban communities, prosecutors said.

Authorities say that the officers' credibility would no longer stand up in court.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said that 19 cases have been reviewed and that it plans to drop charges in 15 of them. The other four will move forward, prosecutors said.

The cases dropped today included Raina Lewerenz, 20, of Franklin Park, charged with possession of Ecstasy pills; Marleny Gutierrez, 30, of Wheeling, charged with delivery of marijuana; and Alex Garcia, 18, of Palatine, charged with delivery of cocaine.

NEWS: Northlake man pleads not guilty in fatal stabbing of girlfriend

--What can you say except, hopefully justice is done--
Duke

Story at Pioneer Press

Adam Belmont, 23, of Northlake, enters the courtroom at the DuPage County Courthouse in Wheaton, on Tuesday. Belmont was arraigned on first-degree murder and sex assault charges in the Dec. 15, 2012, death of his ex-girlfriend, Alyssa Van Meter. Belmont is accused of fatally stabbing the 25-year-old victim and then sexually assaulting her body during a home invasion at her Woodridge apartment. | Bev Horne/bhorne@dailyherald.com
BY DAN ROZEK
Staff Reporter
January 29, 2013 11:18AM
Updated: January 29, 2013 12:03PM

During a brief hearing recorded by media cameras, Adam Belmont formally denied fatally stabbing and then sexually assaulting his former girlfriend last month in her Woodridge apartment.

Belmont’s Monday arraignment marks the third time cameras have been allowed in DuPage County courtrooms under a new Illinois Supreme Court policy allowing broader media access.

The 23-year-old Northlake man had objected to having cameras at the hearing, but Judge Blanche Fawell rejected his claims that photographing him in court could prejudice future jurors against him.

Belmont faces a possible life sentence if convicted of the Dec. 15 slaying of 25-year-old Alyssa Van Meter.

Prosecutors contend Belmont climbed a balcony to break into the second-floor apartment he formerly shared with Van Meter, then choked her unconscious and fatally stabbed her after she refused to reconcile with him.

Belmont, a former tow truck driver, allegedly used a keepsake knife inscribed with their names and anniversary date to kill Van Meter, a fellow driver, authorities have said.

Before her death, Van Meter sent a text message to a friend warning that “Adam just broke into my apartment,” authorities have said.

After the slaying, Belmont allegedly sexually assaulted Van Meter before fleeing the apartment, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Vincent M. Miceli entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Belmont, who wore orange jail fatigues and stood handcuffed next to him.

Belmont had abruptly collapsed during an earlier hearing, but he remained composed during his arraignment, speaking only once after Fawell asked him if he understood he needed to appear in court for every hearing.

“Yes,” replied Belmont, who remains jailed without bail.

His 23-count indictment includes charges of first-degree murder, aggravated criminal sexual assault, home invasion, criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse and abuse of a corpse.

Miceli declined to comment, except to say Belmont is ready to defend himself against the charges.

“He knows there’s a long road ahead of him,” Miceli said.

More than a dozen of Van Meter’s relatives and friends were in court for the hearing, but declined to comment outside the courtroom.

Monday, January 28, 2013

NEWS: Too Many Boards for us to Support

Illinois is never going to change.
We are the most governed state in the nation with over 7000 political bodies and over 340 state commissions.
Until voters finally decide that enough is enough and vote the way they should and NOT the way they are told we will continue to be a broke laughing stock.--
Duke

Story at Better Government Association

January 26, 2013 12:41 PM

Illinois is home to more than 300 separate tax-payer supported boards and commissions, many of them costly and of dubious value. It’s a poster child for government excess — watchers watching watchers — that should have been streamlined years ago.
By Andy Shaw/BGA

Run a business? Perform a public service? Have a civic interest? Enjoy a hobby? Then chances are the State of Illinois has a board, a commission or panel watching over you.

Illinois is home to more than 300 separate tax-supported boards and commissions, many of them costly and of dubious value, starting with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Advisory Board and rolling through the alphabet to end with the Youth Development Council.

Taxpayers are covering the salaries and benefits of board and commission members who "oversee" a wide range of functions that probably don’t need another layer of oversight, including elections, utilities, liquor control and property tax appeals.

It’s a poster child for government excess — watchers watching watchers — that should have been streamlined years ago.

In fact, when Gov. Pat Quinn took office in 2009, replacing impeached and now-imprisoned Rod Blagojevich, he pledged to dump the most unnecessary boards and commissions — that’s a lot of them — and make the rest more efficient.

But four years later the situation, incredibly, is actually worse, not better.

In June of 2010, there were 333 state panels, according to a report by the Illinois Auditor General. Today, there are 346, based on a recent count by the BGA.

Almost 40 of those boards pay their members a total of more than $8 million a year in salaries and benefits.

The rest hand out nearly a million a year in per diem fees and expense reimbursements.

Salaries range from $117,043 for members of the full-time Pollution Control Board, which holds hearings and reviews environmental cases — that’s arguably necessary — to $15,000 for the part-time Employment Security Board of Review, which backstops decisions on unemployment insurance claims. Really?

One of the best gigs is the part-time Human Rights Commission, whose 12 members are paid $46,960 a year, plus health and pension benefits, for working an average of 13 hours a month, according to a 2011 BGA investigation.

That’s almost as much as the average salary of a fulltime state employee.

Some boards and commissions are created by the Illinois General Assembly, but most are under the governor’s purview,

Quinn’s promise to cut and economize also included a pledge to depoliticize panels that, in many cases, serve as landing pads for connected insiders and cronies who leave fulltime sinecures but want to remain on the public payroll in some fashion.

Case in point: The aforementioned Human Rights Commission, which includes five politically influential Democrats named to the panel by — you guessed it — Democrat and self-proclaimed reformer Pat Quinn.

In fairness, Quinn’s been dealing with bigger financial issues, including a massive public pension debacle, a budget crisis and a mountain of unpaid bills.

But a governor with an army of minions should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.

A spokeswoman for Quinn tells the BGA that he remains committed to his original reform agenda and will lay out a game plan in his upcoming budget address.

It’s about time, and we’re looking forward to hearing his new and improved strategy. But please: Don’t call for the creation of a new board or commission to review the current ones.

That would be adding insult to injury.

Andy Shaw is President & CEO of the Better Government Association. He can be reached at ashaw@bettergov.org and 312-386-9097.

NEWS: Four Mich. Officers Accused of Bribes, Drug Transports

--MORONS!!!!!!!--
Duke

Story at Officer.com

Eric D. Lawrence
Source: Detroit Free Press
Created: January 26, 2013

One of the Highland Park officers agreed to perform a contract killing.

Jan. 26--Beating and then taking a bribe from a man facing trial.

Scheming to protect and deliver what they thought was cocaine.

Even agreeing in principle to kill someone for $20,000.

The allegations unsealed Friday in a criminal complaint against four Highland Park police officers reads like a script for a movie about dirty cops. Although only one -- Anthony Bynum -- is accused of agreeing to perform a contract killing, all are alleged to have taken money to transport what they thought was cocaine.

During a news conference Friday, U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade sought to assure the public that all those involved in the alleged scheme have been arrested.

"This misconduct in this case is limited to the four officers charged," she said.

She also put other officers in the region on notice.

"Police officers who take bribes and participate in criminal activities will be discovered and prosecuted," she said in a statement. Officials also indicated that the multi-agency Public Corruption Task Force involved in the arrests would be presenting more cases in the future.

McQuade credited Highland Park Police Chief Kevin Coney with initiating the federal investigation. Even before the current allegations, Coney was looking into the conduct of the officers, she said. The criminal complaint references three instances between May and July in which residents filed written statements saying they had been beaten or had items stolen from them by Officers Bynum and Price Montgomery together, or by Bynum alone.

The four officers -- Bynum, 29, Montgomery, 38, Shawn Williams, 33, and Craig Clayton, 55 -- face charges including bribery, conspiring to distribute 6 kilograms of cocaine and carrying firearms in furtherance of a drug-trafficking crime. Bynum, Montgomery and Clayton are all of Highland Park; Williams is from Detroit.

The federal investigation began after Bynum and Montgomery arrested a man on a firearms charge in August. The complaint says the officers beat the man, who was not named, and stole $1,700 in cash and a gold ring from him. The complaint says the man, who eventually began working with the FBI as an informant, agreed to pay the two officers $10,000 in exchange for failing to appear for his trial, which led to the dismissal of the case.

The complaint says that Bynum and Montgomery then offered to help the man in his drug dealing. It notes that they claimed to know of "a drug trafficker who uses women to transport drugs from California to Michigan."

As the law enforcement sting developed, Bynum and Montgomery eventually persuaded Williams and Clayton -- both auxiliary Highland Park officers -- to participate in one of two deliveries involving the transport of what turned out to be "sham cocaine" from the Chili's parking lot at Oakland Mall in Troy to a Meijer parking lot in Taylor in November and January, the complaint says.

Bynum's mother asked for prayers for her son following his initial appearance in federal court in Detroit on Friday afternoon.

"My son is a good boy. He is a good officer," said Annie Bynum, 65, of Detroit. "I can't even believe this is happening."

Bynum's mother said her son has two sons of his own, a 10-year-old and a 7-month-old. Bynum also is an officer for Detroit Public Schools, and his mother said he has been a pastor at two churches in Detroit and Highland Park.

During the hearing, Magistrate Judge Laurie J. Michelson set bail for all four at $10,000 in unsecured bond. Michelson also ordered Bynum to wear a tether and be subject to a curfew because federal authorities said he is a flight risk and noted that he is accused of various violent incidents.

All four were ordered not to have contact with one another unless their attorneys are present, or with any witnesses, victims or members of Highland Park police, except to retrieve property. Their travel is restricted to eastern Michigan.

Preliminary examinations were set for Feb. 15.

The men sat side by side with their legs shackled as they waited to be called before Michelson, who appointed federal defense attorneys to represent them. Bynum wiped his eyes several times as he waited his turn. All four spoke in one- or two-word answers as Michelson addressed them.

NEWS: Cops’ business partner busted in gun raid, but case went nowhere

--This is a case of clout gone wild if I have ever seen one.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY TIM NOVAK AND CHRIS FUSCO
Staff Reporters tnovak@suntimes.com
January 28, 2013 12:26AM

The Chicago Police Department seized 36 guns from the home of James B. Finkl (above) in 2010. | Finkl Enterprises website photo
It’s been nearly three years since the Chicago Police Department seized a small arsenal of weapons — including four assault rifles — from the River North mansion of James B. Finkl, a steel company heir who owned a security business with two Chicago cops.

Finkl wasn’t charged. The case remained in limbo. And City Hall officials say they can’t explain why.

But now, after being asked about it, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has ordered the police internal affairs division to investigate what happened to the case against Finkl, who was in business with police Lt. Daniel J. Shields.

Ten months after the raid, Shields’ brother, Michael Shields, also a police officer, was elected president of Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7, the union for Chicago cops.

The police raided Finkl’s home looking for an illegal, automatic assault rifle, which a tipster said he had fired in Finkl’s “basement firing range,” records show. Police reports don’t show whether officers found that gun — but they did confiscate 36 other weapons, including vintage handguns, several shotguns and four semi-automatic assault rifles, one with 40 live rounds of ammunition.

Finkl told the police he didn’t own any of the weapons — 11 of which were loaded. Later, they learned that he owned all of them.

Finkl was arrested the next day on 36 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, a state crime, and 36 counts of possessing guns that weren’t registered with the city of Chicago, a city ordinance violation.

The criminal charges were dropped because Finkl bought the guns with a valid Illinois Firearm Owners’ Identification card, according to police and prosecutors.

The police never returned the weapons, though. They say that’s because, even though the city hasn’t pursued the case, Finkl is still on the hook for the ordinance violation.

At the time of the raid at his 14,000-square-foot home, Finkl owned a company called Jetty Security with two Chicago cops: Dan Shields and Michael Malaniuk.

Finkl — who owns a black Humvee that has FOP stickers on the windshield — couldn’t be reached for comment.

Dan Shields’ lawyer says the officer’s business relationship with Finkl ended last year.

Mike Shields wouldn’t talk about his brother’s company or say whether he ever worked for it. He was elected president of the Fraternal Order of Police on March 4, 2011, and appointed his brother as a sergeant-at-arms for the union.

Finkl is a member of the family that formerly owned A. Finkl & Sons Co., the Near North Side steel business founded in 1879, eight years after the Great Chicago Fire. The Finkls were major supporters of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, hosting political events for him at the steel plant where Blagojevich’s father once worked. The Finkls sold the steel company five years ago.

Finkl, 49, is founder and chief executive officer of Finkl Enterprises, whose holdings included Jetty Security, Radar Pictures and several other businesses. Radar has helped finance movies for Radar Productions, which is headed by former Chicago Sun-Times owner Ted Field. Some of those movie deals involved Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley who late last year was charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of David Koschman nearly nine years ago.

The narcotics division of the police department’s organized-crime unit raided Finkl’s house in the 400 block of West Huron on May 18, 2010, hours after an informant told police he had fired a fully automatic AR-15 rifle in Finkl’s basement that day. It would be a federal offense to own such a gun unless it is registered with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Officer James Polaski got a warrant to search Finkl’s home that day. The informant — identified in public records only as “J. Doe” — “observed James Finkl in possession of an AR-15, fully automatic assault rifle which James Finkl recovered from his bedroom,” according to the warrant, which also said the informant and Finkl went down to Finkl’s basement, “at which time J. Doe fired the rifle into a cement wall that was located at the end of the basement.”

“J. Doe squeezed the trigger one time and multiple rounds fired from the rifle.”

A woman let Polaski and other officers carrying out the search warrant into Finkl’s home around 3:30 p.m. that day, according to a police report. They reported finding 19 handguns, five rifles and three shotguns in Finkl’s third-floor bedroom and, in the basement, six rifles and three shotguns.

Finkl came home during the raid accompanied by a man who identified himself to the police as Finkl’s “security personnel.” The police wouldn’t provide his name.

“Finkl denied any ownership of the . . . recovered weapons and stated that he has frontal brain lobe damage due to a boating accident and has trouble remembering things,” according to the police report.

Finkl had been severely hurt in a 1995 powerboating race, according to a biography on his company’s website.

The police arrested Finkl at his home the following morning, May 19, 2010, on 36 counts of unlawful use of a weapon, the state crime. He also was accused of violating a city ordinance for failing to register the 36 weapons.

He was taken to the lockup at the 18th District police station — which is also where Dan Shields, his business partner at the time, worked. Fingerprinted there, Finkl was released about two hours later.

Finkl was scheduled to appear in misdemeanor court on July 2, 2010, but the Cook County Circuit Court clerk has no records on that case.

The arresting officer showed up in court that day, and a Cook County judge continued the case, according to Melissa Stratton, a police spokeswoman who referred additional questions to the city’s law department.

The law department responded with a written statement: “When the city was first alerted to this issue — that a court case might not have been filed or pursued after Finkl’s arrest in 2010 — the law department and Chicago Police Department immediately began to review the facts and disposition of the case.

“It appears that the circuit court clerk’s electronic database does not have on record a case corresponding to the May 19, 2010, arrest date. The city is still determining why the clerk did not receive this case in their database. As a result, and in light of the Sun-Times bringing this case to our attention:

“1. CPD immediately launched an internal affairs investigation to review the handling of this case.

“2. The Law Department is working with the County clerk’s office and CPD to have the case refiled.

“3. The weapons that were seized during the arrest remain in police custody as evidence.

“Once refiled, the charges against Mr. Finkl are anticipated to include the following violations of the Chicago Municipal Code: four counts of unlawful possession of an assault weapon and 36 counts of possession of an unregisterable firearm.

“As part of the refilling process, the defendant, Mr. Finkl, will be given notice that the proceedings are moving forward and given another date to appear.”

If found guilty, Finkl would face fines of as much as $5,000 and up to three months in jail.

CHICAGO OUTFIT: ‘Nightmares never stopped’ for son of mobster Frank Calabrese Sr.

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY STEVE WARMBIR
Staff Reporter/swarmbir@suntimes.com
January 27, 2013 7:46PM


Kurt Calabrese in Chicago, Ill., on Tuesday, January 15, 2013. | Andrew A. Nelles~Sun-Times Media
The son had to see his father’s remains.

His father had haunted him his entire life, first when he was a child with routine beatings and belittlings, then later as an adult, with more of the same but with greater intensity, culminating in bullying him into a family business he wanted nothing to do with.

Even after his father had been held responsible for 13 mob murders in a historic trial in Chicago and had been sent hundreds of miles away to be locked up in the tightest security possible, Kurt Calabrese still couldn’t escape his father, Frank Calabrese Sr.

His father lingered in his memories.

And he never left his nightmares.

“The nightmares have never stopped,” Kurt Calabrese told the Sun-Times in a recent interview, his first extensive remarks after the death of his father on Christmas Day at the age of 75.

Calabrese Sr. died from heart disease after spending much of his life making millions of dollars for the mob and terrorizing people wherever he went, from street corners to the corner bar to his own kitchen table.

His downfall was how he abused his family. His oldest son, Frank Calabrese Jr., decided he would cooperate with the FBI and secretly record his father while both were in prison on a juice loan case, a prosecution that would also land Kurt Calabrese behind bars for playing a minor role.

Frank Calabrese Sr.’s brother, Nick, who also committed murders for the mob, some with his brother, also testified against Calabrese Sr. at the Family Secrets trials.

Kurt Calabrese, 51, did not testify, even though his father tried to bully him into doing so.

But he did speak at his father’s sentencing hearing, as a victim, in January 2009.

It was the last time he would see his father, and it did not go well.

Kurt Calabrese described to the court how his father would beat him at a moment’s notice.

In court, Frank Calabrese Sr. scoffed at his son, said he had been treated like “a king” and demanded he apologize.

A federal judge found nothing Frank Calabrese Sr. said credible and sentenced him to life in prison.

Kurt Calabrese reached out to his father while in prison, to talk to him, but he was having none of it.

Then, just after Christmas last month , with a phone call from the federal Bureau of Prisons, it fell to Kurt Calabrese to decide whether he wanted to step up and take responsibility for disposing of his father’s remains.

His father had made millions for the mob, developed so much influence, but no one had bothered to make arrangements for what to do with the dead mobster’s body.

Frank Calabrese Jr. got the first call from the feds, and he passed on the job.

So next up was Kurt Calabrese.

He didn’t want to do it. He couldn’t believe no one had set up the details beforehand.

Kurt Calabrese had long stopped considering Frank Calabrese Sr. much of a father.

He wasn’t interested in paying his respects. Throughout his life, Frank Calabrese Sr. often confused fear and respect, especially when dealing with his son, Kurt.

Kurt Calabrese felt he had no compassion left for the man.

But he had unfinished business with him.

And if he didn’t take responsibility for his father’s remains, he would never get the chance to complete it.

So on a recent Saturday, he took a flight to Raleigh-Durham Airport, N.C., to see the body of his father one last time and have a conversation with him that he could never have with him when he was alive.

“I don’t want to say I needed to see him dead,” Calabrese said.

“I didn’t want to do this. I had to have some sort of closure to this. I needed to see the body.”

He had been warned over the phone by federal prison officials that his father’s body had deteriorated in the few weeks after he had died. No mortician had worked his magic to make his father look good. Kurt Calabrese said he understood.

From the airport, he hopped into a cab and went to a ranch home doubling as a mortuary that was near Duke University.

The red front door was already open, and he walked inside.

Two men were waiting to greet him. The mortician and an official from the Bureau of Prisons.

Again, they told him his father’s remains had deteriorated.

They made him sign a paper, acknowledging he had been notified of that fact.

Are you ready, they asked him.

Kurt Calabrese said he was.

They walked him into a room with several bodies, covered up and laid out on long tables. The two men left to give him time alone.

One body was covered up with an old blue blanket up to the chest.

On the body was a piece of white paper with a name written across it in black marker.

Frank Calabrese, it said.

“I was shocked to see him, still knowing it wasn’t going to be pretty,” Kurt Calabrese said.

His lips were puffy, his head was scabbed, his chin and cheeks covered in white stubble.

In life, Frank Calabrese Sr. had always taken care of himself and worked to look good.

On the table, he looked like a homeless man, Kurt Calabrese said.

“And that’s not how I wanted to remember my father.”

Calabrese started to get upset for other reasons as well, and started having feelings he didn’t expect to have.

At first, he didn’t want to get close to the body. But there appeared to be water — it looked like a tear — coming out of his right eye.

It made Calabrese think about a time in 1980, when he was walking the family’s two German shepherds outside the family home, and his father came out to walk and talk with him.

“We never had a relationship where we would walk and talk,” Calabrese said.

Frank Calabrese Sr. told him how his own father was dying of cancer, and there was nothing Calabrese Sr. could do about it.

His father had tears in his eyes, Kurt Calabrese recalled.

It was the only time he can remember when his father actually talked to him like a son.

The memory upset him, Kurt Calabrese said. “I wished I had times like that when he would talk to me. I saw a human side, I hadn’t seen before or since.”

In the mortuary, Kurt Calabrese needed to get some things off his chest, so he started talking to his father. He’s not a religious person, but he hoped his father somehow heard him, he said. Near his father’s head was a large cross on a stand.

“I asked him to let go,” Kurt Calabrese said.

“To let the people he’s affected in his life have some peace. Me, my family, my mother, the victims’ families, everyone.”

Kurt Calabrese figured he’d spend about 15 minutes with the body.

He would up spending about an hour, he said.

He got to have a conversation with his father he had never had the chance to do in real life.

“He didn’t stop me. He didn’t cut me off. He didn’t interrupt me. He didn’t throw something at me or try to hurt me. It’s not him yelling and screaming at me.”

He asked his father why they couldn’t have a normal father-son relationship.

He asked his father if he hadn’t been a good, loyal son.

“I want to believe he heard me. I want to believe that down the line, he will realize that I was a good son, and that he wasn’t a great father,” Calabrese said.

Something surprised him as he stood talking to his father.

“I didn’t feel I had any more compassion for my father,” Calabrese said. “I had a lot more compassion left.”

The visit accomplished something else important for himself, he said.

He’s beginning to forgive his father for what he did to him — the beatings, the mental torture, the bullying.

“Forgetting it, that’s another story. Forgiving, I have to. I need to be the best dad I can be, and I can’t do that with having hatred for my father,” Calabrese said.

When Frank Calabrese Sr. was alive, he was sucking the life out of his son.

Now, Kurt Calabrese feels like he’s starting to get his life back.

“This is the way I needed to handle it,” he said. “Just to close it.”

For his entire life, Frank Calabrese Sr. tried to control every aspect of his son’s life.

In the end, in front of the body of his father, Kurt Calabrese made his own decision and found some way to find some measure of pity for the man who had tried to destroy him.

“Every day brings a different emotion, in a good way,” Calabrese said.

His nightmares, for now, are gone.

Frank Calabrese Sr. was cremated.

Kurt Calabrese doesn’t know what he will do with the ashes.

NEWS: Private cops get permission to ticket

--Having worked in the private security industry on and off for years I can say that this is a bad idea.
Nothing against private security officers but allowing armed or unarmed civilians to make traffic stops and issue citations is going to lead to nothing but problems.
I would not pull over for flashing yellow lights behind me for any reason until I was around the real police or a very public place.
We already have people misusing the legit red/blue lights to impersonate the police and hurt people.
Do you see where I am going with this?
There is no reason why these sub-divisions or communities cannot sign a letter of agreement with local police to enforce traffic laws.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

Illinois Supreme Court rules subdivision police can detain drivers

By Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune reporter
9:52 PM CST, January 25, 2013

The homeowners associations responsible for managing subdivisions across the state have the power to enforce their own traffic rules through a private security force, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled Friday, overturning a lower-court ruling that found they could be unlawful.

Former DuPage County prosecutor Ken Poris sued LaSalle County's Lake Holiday Property Owners Association after he was pulled over for speeding in 2008 by a vehicle with flashing lights.

A uniformed officer wearing a badge and duty belt took his driver's license and Lake Holiday membership card back to his squad car and wrote him a $50 speeding ticket. The man wasn't a police officer but a homeowners association employee with little police training and no state certification.

Last year, an appeals court found that the association could not stop and detain drivers for violating homeowners association rules. The court found that Lake Holiday could be found liable for Poris' false imprisonment claim and that the association's use of amber-colored flashing lights on its squad cars was unlawful.

But the Illinois Supreme Court on Friday reversed each of those findings, ruling that Lake Holiday was allowed to enforce its bylaws against residents and that courts "generally do not interfere with the internal affairs of a voluntary association."

"We can discern no logic in allowing a private homeowners association to construct and maintain roadways but not allowing the association to implement and enforce traffic laws on those roadways," Judge Robert Thomas wrote.

Poris, who asserted that only sworn officers had the authority to pull over drivers and that the association police were also stopping and ticketing drivers who did not belong to the Lake Holiday association, said he was disappointed with the opinion.

"I think it's going to have possibly some real serious consequences," Poris said.

Poris said he believed the ruling expanded the definition of probable cause, making it easier to stop someone on private property. "Now every homeowners association can basically set up their own enforcement group and those people are allowed to make stops," he said.

Lake Holiday's attorney Bruce Lyon said the association, which encompasses 2,000 single-family lots, was pleased with the ruling.

"They're happy that the court has agreed that they do have the ability to allow them to keep the area safe for all of the families and kids who live there and not allow people to speed with impunity," he said.

He said the association has not enforced the speed limit for about a year as the appeals process worked its way through the courts. While the case was a first for the Supreme Court, Lyon disagreed that it would make it easier for drivers to be pulled over on private property.

"I believe what this ruling really does is reiterate the rights of a private association to contract with its members when those members agree to those rules," he said.

R.I.P.: Sergeant Rick Riggenbach

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 

Sergeant Rick Riggenbach
Chitimacha Tribal Police Department, Tribal Police
End of Watch: Saturday, January 26, 2013

Bio & Incident Details

Age: Not available
Tour: 15 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Gunfire
Location: Louisiana
Incident Date: 1/26/2013
Weapon: Shotgun
Suspect: Charged with murder

Sergeant Rick Riggenbach was shot and killed after he and two St. Mary Parish deputies responded to reports of a mobile home fire and an armed subject on Flatown Road, near, Charenton shortly after 9:00 am. The fire was reported just off of tribal land about one quarter mile from a Chitimacha-owned casino.

When Sergeant Riggenbach arrived at the scene the subject shot him with a shotgun, fatally wounding him. The subject then opened fire on the two St. Mary Parish deputies as they arrived at the scene moments later. Both deputies were critically wounded. The subject, who was also wounded at some point during the incident, was taken into custody by other responding officers and transported to a local hospital.

After the house fire was extinguished the body of its owner was discovered in the debris. The subject who started the fire was a neighbor with a history of mental illness.

Sergeant Riggenbach had served with the Chitimacha Tribal Police Department for 15 years. He is survived by his wife and two grown children.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Police Chief Blaise Smith
Chitimacha Tribal Police Department
155 Chitimacha Loop
PO Box 661
Charenton, LA 70523
Phone: (337) 923-4973

Saturday, January 26, 2013

NEWS: (Northlake) 2011 theft of $100,000 in cash from suburb remains a mystery

--Being a Northlake police officer I am 1000% confident that no one on the police department had any involvement in this.
However, there is no way the NLPD should have assumed responsibility for this investigation. (Not that they could not handle it, but why be put in the uncomfortable position of investigating the people who sign your paychecks?)
The super secretive police chief, who has spent years hiding issues from the city council did not want outsiders looking in.
I have been told that all the elected officials at the time had taken and passed at least two polygraph tests. (The finance director is not elected but hired as a city employee).
I have also been informed that several members of the city council wanted an outside agency, such as the Illinois State Police, to handle the investigation and they were rejected by the mayor.
Could the efforts to keep it "in house" be because the identity of the offender would be to much of an embarrassment to the mayor? 
Or, could it be fear that the guilty person would be able to reveal to much "inside" information in the effort to make a deal if caught?--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

Northlake police chief largely silent on investigation; mayor fires finance director, alleges negligence

By Joseph Ryan, Chicago Tribune reporter
January 20, 2013

More than $100,000 in cash was stolen from Northlake's municipal offices on a night in June of 2011. (Antonio Perez, Chicago Tribune / January 16, 2013)
After a suburban festival finally wrapped up late one weekend night, the town's finance director said he put the day's take in a cardboard box in his office — leaving a stash of more than $100,000 gathered in thick stacks of cash from vendors and ticket sellers.

By daylight, the money was gone.

Northlake officials say the theft appeared to be an inside job — only an employee, or someone close to one, would know the money was there and be able to quietly get it.

Yet, more than 18 months later, the cash is still gone and no one has been charged. And adding yet another layer to the mystery: the investigation is headed by the local police chief, who reports to the mayor and whose officers would be investigating fellow city employees.

"I can see where certainly a cynic could say it is … a cover-up and so on," said longtime Mayor Jeffrey Sherwin. "I'm confident it is not."

With the case dragging on, the mayor fired the city finance director, William Kabler, in September, alleging negligence for putting the money in his city office instead of a more secure place, such as the Police Department.

Kabler said he has been made to be the "fall guy." He also argues the investigation should have been turned over to an outside agency, such as the Illinois State Police or FBI, so there "wouldn't be any prejudices, and there wouldn't be a conflict."

Some police experts back Kabler on that point. They say bringing in an outside agency on an inside theft could help dispel allegations of a fix if no one is caught.

"I know of others who would have immediately turned that over to an outside group," said John Kennedy, director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

The mayor and police chief, both in place since the mid-1990s, stand by the decision to keep the investigation locally controlled.

The heist

The high-dollar, dark-of-night theft in June of 2011 stung a western suburb that has tried to cultivate a small-town feel just south of bustling O'Hare International Airport. Two days after the money disappeared, the mayor decided to break the news to residents by typing up a letter to the roughly 4,000 local households.

"I thought it would be best to inform you of a serious situation before rumors and inaccurate information began to circulate throughout the community," the mayor's letter began.

Days earlier, the finance director was wrapping up his duties at the annual Northlake Days, a three-day festival punctuated by tribute bands, fireworks and a car show.

With a police officer following him for security, Kabler said he moved cash collected that day — much of it in singles and small bills — in a nondescript cardboard box from an office at the fest to his car.

Kabler said the police officer then tailed him as he drove to City Hall, where he placed the box of cash under a chair in his office. He said he left about 1 a.m. Sunday, believing his office door was locked behind him.

Kabler said that when he returned about 8 a.m. Sunday, his office door was unlocked. The box was still there, he said, but the money wasn't. Another employee was in City Hall at the time and Kabler said about six other employees had keys to his office.

"I walked out and said, 'Is this a joke?'" Kabler recalled.

Kabler said the other employee called the police, and a further search of the building revealed a computer tied to the City Hall's cameras was also gone.

In all, the city said $102,604.25 was stolen.

But, Kabler said, the thief didn't touch a petty cash box in his office or the wallet he accidentally left on his desk or anything else of value in the building.

Investigation

To the mayor and Kabler, it all pointed to an inside job.

"Honestly, I don't think it was someone from the outside," Sherwin said, adding later: "Anyone who knew (the money) would be there would absolutely be a prime suspect."

And one of them was Kabler, a longtime numbers guy who had been with Northlake since 2003.

Police officers questioned Kabler that day and again in an interrogation room a few days later, Kabler said. Then, Kabler said, he was asked to take a lie detector test the following week.

Kabler said he was uneasy about the local police chief handling the case because the two didn't get along. He got a lawyer — drawing criticism from the mayor — but said he still took the test. Kabler said he was told he passed the test.

Turning to focus on his job, Kabler submitted a claim for the six-figure theft to the city's insurance carrier.

Weeks turned into months, and still no one was charged as rumors swirled around City Hall.

Police Chief Dennis Koletsos declined to reveal many details of the investigation. But he declared that he is certain none of his officers was involved in the theft, including the one who followed Kabler to City Hall that night.

"We know our officers were not involved," Koletsos said, declining to elaborate.

The chief also defended keeping the investigation in-house, stressing that his investigators wouldn't be deterred from locking up a city employee. He said he has leaned on other agencies, including the Illinois State Police, for "resources."

No arrests

The mayor said it didn't occur to him early on to consider going to an outside department. Because so few people knew the money was there, Sherwin said he thought the thief would be caught quickly.

But that didn't happen.

By early 2012, records show the insurance carrier was wondering how to process the city's claim. Did the claim fall under a clause for employee theft or a more typical theft by an outsider?

Records show the police chief sent a letter to the city's insurance carrier in March saying the claim should be processed as a typical theft.

"As the investigation continues, we feel that someone from outside the city employees is responsible for this loss," Koletsos wrote in the brief letter.

The chief declined to comment on that letter, and he also declined to discuss whether he believes the thief was a city employee or not, saying any such talk "could possibly compromise this."

The insurance agency cut the city a check to cover the loss, minus a $2,500 deductible, the mayor said.

After another Northlake Days fest passed in 2012, Kabler said other employees were suddenly subjected to lie detector tests.

On Sept. 12 the mayor fired Kabler.

In a letter to the City Council, the mayor wrote that he fired Kabler for "negligence" in handling the money.

For his part, Kabler said he was just doing what he had done in years past, and he said that neither the mayor nor any other city official told him to keep the money elsewhere.

The mayor said he didn't know the money would be stashed at City Hall, an assertion Kabler disputes.

"Everyone knew what was going on," Kabler said.

The mayor said he is still hoping the thief is caught. He is seeking his fifth term this year. Sherwin first won his seat in 1997, financing his campaign with his share of a $42 million lottery award split with family members.

For the next Northlake Days, Sherwin said the town will have the carnival operators keep the money throughout the event, then settle up with the city afterward.

"It is a small town. You get comfortable and complacent. You trust people," Sherwin said. "I think everyone got a little too comfortable with the way things were being handled."

Friday, January 25, 2013

PENSION: Illinois bond rating sinks to worst in the nation with S&P downgrade

“We assessed what the pension fund status is, what the pension funding levels are, and is there a likelihood there’d be significant change on that front. Only way that can happen is legislative action, and our view is we don’t expect significant change,” Robin Prunty, a credit analyst with the rating agency, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
 --Are we supposed to be shocked by this? I'm not.
What we should be is outraged at our elected officials for letting our great state get into this position.
Unfortunately we are represented by people who really don't care what happens to us (not all of them, but definitely most of them). All they are worried about is making money for themselves and making sure their pension and insurance is taken care.
The rest of us can fend for ourselves.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Sun-Times

BY DAVE MCKINNEY
Springfield bureau chief
January 25, 2013 2:20PM

SPRINGFIELD — Citing inaction on pensions, a prominent Wall Street bond-rating agency downgraded Illinois’ bond rating Friday, making the state the nation’s worst credit risk.

The move by Standard & Poor’s to rate Illinois’ bonds at A- with a negative outlook comes as the state is preparing to go out on the market Wednesday with a $500 million bond issue.

With the new lowered rating, Illinois eclipsed California as the least creditworthy state in the country in Standard & Poor’s eyes and could face higher borrowing costs.

“We assessed what the pension fund status is, what the pension funding levels are, and is there a likelihood there’d be significant change on that front. Only way that can happen is legislative action, and our view is we don’t expect significant change,” Robin Prunty, a credit analyst with the rating agency, told the Chicago Sun-Times.

“The past two years, they’ve been discussing pension reform, and there hasn’t been action,” she said.

Lawmakers left Springfield earlier this month, once again fumbling efforts to solve Illinois’ $95 billion pension crisis. Since last May, the Democratic-led House and Senate failed on four occasions to rally behind a single plan despite continuous prodding from Gov. Pat Quinn.

On Friday, before word of the downgrade had circulated, Quinn warned that continued inaction on pensions by lawmakers would lead to the very action Standard & Poor’s took and embraced a new pension plan – Senate Bill 1 – being touted by Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago).

“We’ve got to put our seat belts on here, and understand the rating agencies won’t give us better marks until the Legislature passes Senate Bill 1 and gets the job done,” Quinn told reporters. “That’s really the message the credit rating agencies are screaming at the top of their voice. I’ve heard it, and I think the members of the Legislature need to hear it as well.”

PENSION: (Illinois) Ralph Martire: Another way forward on pension reform

 See, three factors have contributed to the creation of this unfunded liability. The first two are items inherent to the pension systems themselves, like benefit levels, salary increases and actuarial assumptions; and investment losses suffered during the Great Recession. But if those were the only factors creating the unfunded liability, the systems would be around 70 percent funded today, meaning no crisis.
 --The biggest problem I see is that the legislators in Springfield make laws just to get around laws they already made.
They passed a law in 1994 to legalize their theft of the pension funds so what is to stop them from passing a law to not pay the 6.5 billion a year?--
Duke

Story at State Journal-Register

By Ralph Martire
The State Journal-Register
Posted Jan 23, 2013

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when the recent lame-duck session in Springfield ended.

Why? No action was taken to address the $95 billion in debt owed to the state’s five pension systems.

This leaves the systems with just 40 percent of the funding they should have currently, which is well below the 80 percent generally deemed healthy for public systems. Good government groups and editorial boards alike lamented the Legislature’s failure to pass yet another proposal to reduce that ginormous obligation — this time by cutting almost $30 billion in benefits earned by current workers and retirees.

But rather than being dismayed, folks should be relieved. Here’s why.

A problem really can’t be solved unless the proposed solution addresses its true cause. And the proposal that failed to pass during the lame-duck session — like every other proposal introduced to date on this subject — focused its solution on benefit cuts and thereby failed to deal with this particular problem’s true cause.

See, three factors have contributed to the creation of this unfunded liability. The first two are items inherent to the pension systems themselves, like benefit levels, salary increases and actuarial assumptions; and investment losses suffered during the Great Recession. But if those were the only factors creating the unfunded liability, the systems would be around 70 percent funded today, meaning no crisis.

The vast majority of the unfunded liability is made up of the third contributing factor: debt. Indeed, for more than 40 years. the state used the pension systems like a credit card, borrowing against what it owed them to cover the cost of providing current services, which effectively allowed constituents to consume public services without having to pay the full cost thereof in taxes.

This irresponsible fiscal practice became such a crutch that it was codified into law in 1994 (P.A. 88-0593). That act implemented such aggressive borrowing against pension contributions to fund services that it grew the unfunded liability by more than 350 percent from 1995 to 2010 — by design. Worse, the repayment schedule it created was so back-loaded that it resembles a ski slope, with payments jumping at annual rates no fiscal system could accommodate. Want proof? This year the total pension payment under the ramp is $5.1 billion — more than $3.5 billion of which is debt service. By 2045, that annual payment is scheduled to exceed $17 billion, with all growth being debt service.

It is this unattainable, unaffordable repayment schedule that is straining the state’s fiscal system — not pension benefits and not losses from the Great Recession. And no matter how much benefits are cut, that debt service will grow at unaffordable rates. Which means decision-makers can’t solve this problem without re-amortizing the debt.

Given that the current repayment schedule is a complete legal fiction — a creature of statute that doesn’t have any actuarial basis — making this change is relatively easy. Simply re-amortizing $85 billion of the unfunded liability into flat, annual debt payments of around $6.9 billion each through 2057 does the trick. After inflation, this new, flat, annual payment structure creates a financial obligation for the state that decreases in real terms over time, in place of the dramatically increasing structure under current law. Moreover, because some principal would be front- rather than back-loaded, this re-amortization would cost taxpayers $35 billion less than current law.

One last thing — it actually solves the problem by dealing with its cause.

PENSION: (Illinois) State unions propose pension summit

--It seems that all I hear from the politicians is how they want to repay the money they misspent without hurting themselves.
I have not seen any suggestions toward reforming the pension systems in Illinois.--
Duke

Story at State Journal Register

 By DOUG FINKE (doug.finke@sj-r.com)
The State Journal-Register
Posted Jan 23, 2013 @ 06:34 PM

 Public employee unions have invited Gov. Pat Quinn and the four legislative leaders to a “summit” next month to try to reach a negotiated agreement on pension changes.

We Are One Illinois, a coalition of public employee unions, said it will hold the meeting in Burr Ridge Feb. 11.

In a letter to Quinn and the leaders, Illinois AFL-CIO President Michael Carrigan said the coalition hopes that bringing legislators and unions together will overcome obstacles that have stymied pension proposals so far.

“We believe that these efforts have faltered in large part because they did not address the concerns of those most directly impacted — public sector employees and retirees,” Carrigan wrote. “Moreover, in virtually every instance, the proposed legislation sought to place the entire cost of fixing the pension problem on those employees and retirees.”

Plans advanced in the legislature so far have generally called for lower pension benefits and higher contributions from workers. Unions have said they’re willing to have members pay more toward their pensions, but they have resisted changes in benefits.

We Are One Illinois has called for ending a series of business tax breaks and new taxes on things like satellite TV service in order to generate $2 billion in additional state revenue.

Rep. Elaine Nekritz, D-Northbrook, had not heard of the union summit, but said she hopes the talks might produce some results. At the same time, she said “it will be challenging to come to agreement on the nature of the solution,” particularly on ending business tax breaks.

“A lot of them have been tried routinely,” Nekritz said. “But I’m happy to have the dialogue.”

Several pension reform bills have already been filed in the new session of the General Assembly.

Senate President John Cullerton, D-Chicago, is sponsoring a bill that combines two different reform measures. Part A contains pension reforms advanced by Nekritz and others late last year. That plan called for higher employee contributions, curtailing annual cost-of-living adjustments in retirement benefits, and a mechanism to ensure the state makes its contribution to pensions.

Part B includes provisions that already passed the Senate, but not the House. That approach would give workers a choice  between continued COLAs and having future raises count toward pensions, or continuing to receive state-subsidized health insurance in retirement.

Under Cullerton’s theory, if the combined bill passes and the courts strike down Part A, Part B would become law.

On Tuesday, Quinn referred to the bill as “kind of attractive.”

Neither Quinn nor Cullerton’s offices responded to questions.

R.I.P.: Trooper Michael Slagle

OFFICER DOWN MEMORIAL PAGE 

Trooper Michael Slagle
Tennessee Highway Patrol, Tennessee
End of Watch: Friday, January 25, 2013


Bio & Incident Details

Age: Not available
Tour: 20 years
Badge # Not available
Cause: Automobile accident
Incident Date: 1/25/2013
Weapon: Not available
Suspect: Not available

Trooper Michael Slagle died following a vehicle crash on Longmire Road, near Emory Road, in Knox County.

His patrol car slid off the roadway after striking a patch of ice. Despite being stuck in his vehicle, he was able to notify dispatchers of the crash and rescue crews were sent to the scene. A responding fire truck slid on the same patch of ice and flipped over on top of his patrol car while he was still inside.

At some point during the incident Trooper Slagle suffered a fatal heart attack.

Trooper Slagle had served with the Tennessee Highway Patrol for over 20 years.

Please contact the following agency to send condolences or to obtain funeral arrangements:

Colonel Tracy Trott
Tennessee Highway Patrol
1150 Foster Avenue
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone: (615) 251-5175

Thursday, January 24, 2013

NEWS: Former Harvey cop gets $600,000 in federal lawsuit

--If more public employees stood up to their employers like this guy, things would be a lot better in this world.
Congratulations Officer Gbur.--
Duke

Story at Southtown Star

BY KIM JANSSEN
Federal Courts Reporter
Updated: January 24, 2013 4:51PM

A Harvey cop who was forced to patrol in an unsafe squad car without his K-9 partner as revenge for his political opposition to Mayor Eric Kellogg was awarded $600,000 in damages Thursday by a federal jury.

Former police officer Alex Gbur was shot at by a gang member on the night of Sept. 26, 2006, but couldn’t call for help because the decrepit squad car he was assigned had a broken radio. Just hours later, Metra police officer Thomas Cook was killed in the high-crime south suburb — allegedly by the same gunman.

An emotional Gbur testified at trial he was ordered to work without his police dog, and to take the “deathtrap” squad car, in retaliation for backing the mayoral campaign of Kellogg rival Marion Beck, and for giving evidence to a Department of Justice probe of racism within the Harvey Police Department.

A jury took less than four hours to reject Kellogg and the City of Harvey’s denials, awarding Gbur $500,000 in compensatory damages and ordering Kellogg to pay an additional $75,000 in punitive damages. Former Police Chief Andrew Joshua was ordered to pay $25,000 in punitive damages.

NEWS: Defendant will wear prison garb in front of cameras, judge rules

'Belmont, 23, of Northlake, is scheduled to formally enter his plea Jan. 29. Authorities allege he stabbed Van Meter to death in her Woodridge apartment on Dec. 15, about a week after she ended their relationship.'

--Still crazy when I think that this kid lived 100 feet away from me.--
Duke

Story at Chicago Tribune

By Clifford Ward
Special to the Tribune
5:31 PM CST, January 24, 2013

A man charged with killing his ex-girlfriend will have to face the courtroom news cameras in his standard jail attire, a DuPage County judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Blanche Hill Fawell rejected a motion filed on behalf of Adam Belmont, who is scheduled to be arraigned next week for the first-degree murder of Alyssa Van Meter, his former girlfriend. Fawell’s decision is similar to an earlier ruling involving another case in DuPage County, which is refining operations during a pilot program of providing enhanced media coverage of court proceedings.

Media representatives had asked permissions to have cameras on hand when Belmont, who is being held in lieu of bail, formally answers the charges. Belmont’s attorney, Vincent M. Miceli, asked the judge to allow Belmont to appear unshackled and in his own clothing.

But Fawell denied the request, saying one of the purposes of experimenting with courtroom cameras was to give the public an accurate depiction of what happens in court. Breaking routine defeats that purpose, she said.

“This is how we do it every day, cameras or not,” Fawell said.

Belmont, like other jail inmates, appears in court in the orange jail uniform with his hands manacled. Those types of images, Miceli said, could create prejudicial feelings among the public about Belmont, and perhaps hinder his ability to receive a fair trial, should his case go before a jury someday.

“Sensationalism doesn’t outweigh his right to an impartial jury,” Miceli said following the hearing.

Fawell’s ruling mirrored a recent one made by Judge Daniel Guerin in the case of Joseph Spitalli, a Darien man who is charged with the first-degree murder of man who was dating Spitalli’s former girlfriend. Guerin turned down a defense request to excuse Spitalli’s presence at his arraignment, and the judge also shot down an alternative request to allow Spitalli to appear in street clothes.

Guerin said changing up routine court procedure because of the presence of cameras was at cross purposes with the enhanced media experiment. Fawell said she was familiar with her fellow judge’s ruling and agreed with his reasoning.

Belmont, 23, of Northlake, is scheduled to formally enter his plea Jan. 29. Authorities allege he stabbed Van Meter to death in her Woodridge apartment on Dec. 15, about a week after she ended their relationship.

DuPage County is the largest court jurisdiction in Illinois to allow cameras. The Illinois Supreme Court began the camera pilot program a little over a year ago, and about two dozen counties around the state are participating.