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March 2010 Archives

A five-month joint investigation by the Cook County Sheriff's Financial Crimes Unit, several Chicago-area police department and the US Postal Inspection Service brought down a massive identity theft ring, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Dubbed "Operation Quick Change," the investigation led to the arrest of seven young women from the south Chicago suburbs and further downstate.

They stand accused of charging more than $300,000 in at least 500 transactions with credit cards obtained through stolen personal information. Sheriffs said the group bought expensive consumer goods such as appliances and furniture, selling them to friends and relatives for cash.

One of the ringleaders is in police custody and most likely has called a Chicago criminal defense attorney by now, while the six other suspects are thought to have fled the area.

Prosecutors say Kevin Long walked into the Daley Center two weeks ago armed with four knives, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. Prior to the incident, Mr. Long was convicted and sentenced to prison for threatening to kill an opposing civil attorney's 9-year-old daughter.

He was released in November for "meritorious good time" credit he had earned but allegedly remained determined to commit violence.

After his arrest for allegedly bringing weapons to a courthouse, a raid of his house by Cook County sheriff's police and US Marshals yielded a massive weapons cache. The inventory reportedly found by officers was incriminating, to say the least:

1,600 more knives, five handguns, seven law enforcement badges, brass knuckles and names of law enforcement officers with targets sketched by their names.  

Three-week-old baby girl Liliana Galvez never had a chance. Cicero paramedics found her lifeless body at her father's home and originally thought she had died of sudden infant death syndrome, according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. 

Now her father, 19-year-old Jorge Galvez, stands accused of murder.

Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Colin Simpson claims that Mr. Galvez accidentally dropped Liliana; after which she was crying and responsive. But then he called the baby's mother (who was not named by reporters) and for whatever reason Mr. Galvez allegedly threw the baby in her crib.

Liliana became unresponsive at that point; after which her mother told Mr. Galvez to immediately call police. But Mr. Simpson said that he went to sleep instead for "at least six hours." When he finally awoke, Liliana still was unresponsive so he attempted chest compressions to try to revive her.

But it was too late.

The Chicago Now blogger known as "Joe the Cop" wrote an interesting piece about crime in Chicago's suburbs, basically dispelling the myth that crime is an urban problem. "Joe" is actually a pseudonym, but he is a real-life police officer in Chicago.

Joe samples from comments pertaining to suburban crime stories to illustrate his point:

  • "I always thought Naperville was a nice community, not any more." 
  • "Glenview Residents actually doing gang killings?"
  • "Are you kidding me, Schaumburg? I would walk through there at night with my eyes closed."

A cop, he says, won't be fooled by such naivety. Joe's point is that even "nice" communities are not fortified from surrounding neighborhoods and have their fair share of misdemeanors and felonies.  

A federal judge recently said there will be no delay in disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's trial on multiple conspiracy-related charges, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The trial is scheduled to commence on June 3.

Mr. Blagojevich and his team of Illinois criminal defense attorneys were hoping a delay would alter the prosecution's charges because of a pending Supreme Court case that could diminish his charges. That case concerns a provision used by federal prosecutors to pin corruption charges on elected officials and other public figures, as discussed earlier in this blog.

A ruling in the Supreme Court case is expected later this summer; after Mr. Blagojevich's trial is scheduled to begin.

West Side resident Johanna Vera pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted murder for giving her two sons rat poison in response to her boyfriend breaking up with her, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. She was sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison and will be credited with the two-plus years she spent in jail following her arrest.

Ms. Vera wiped away tears and said (in Spanish): "I am really sorry. I really love my children."

Luckily the two boys, one 10-months-old and the other three years old at the time, survived and were not seriously injured from the potentially deadly cocktail.

Controversy still surrounds the use of Taser stun guns by police officers. While the American Civil Liberties Union and some other human rights groups call for more oversight regarding the use of the arguably non-lethal weapons, according to the Chicago Tribune, police officers and their representative organizations argue that they are safe and effective.

Nevertheless, the Chicago Police Department has decided to significantly increase the deployment of Tasers by equipping each and every squad car with one. Police officials cited by the Tribune said they need a more effective option than batons and guns for subduing "uncooperative" suspects.

According to the rules of engagement for Tasers, police may use the weapon if they are under attack or if a suspect is fleeing or otherwise resisting arrest. A total of 166 people were tasered in Chicago in 2008, which jumped to 228 in 2009.

Most of the Chicago Police Department's surveillance cameras are anything but discreet, as you can see for yourself in the photograph included with a Chicago Tribune article about new plans to deploy decidedly incognito cameras. Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis told reporters the department plans to deploy about 50 hidden cameras to help enforce crime.

The reason for the upgrade is simple, at least from the perspective of the police: Criminals (including gang members, for whom the cameras originally were intended) simply keep their eyes out for the large, blinking contraptions and commit felonies or other crimes outside their visual range.

Police spokesman Roderick Drew said the department is not getting rid of the older cameras, which have blinking blue lights and the Chicago Police seal stamped on all sides, but rather upgrading:

"[We] are looking at ways to take advantage of the latest technology and devise strategies to deploy cameras. However, we won't be discussing how we do so and what those cameras might ultimately look like."

A total of 15 states have enacted laws that allow for the medical use of marijuana, according to a recent USA Today article. Meanwhile 14 additional states, including Illinois, are considering legislation that would legalize pharmaceutical pot (also known by its proper name, cannabis).

But while legislators ponder the burning question of whether or not it's a good idea for the state, Illinois citizens caught with less than 30 grams of the herb can be charged with a misdemeanor, according to the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Possession of more than 30 grams gets into felony territory.

That means tokers in the Windy City who consider marijuana an important medicine may want to hold onto that Chicago criminal attorney's business card for a little while longer.

Prosecutors say a Valentine's Day fire at a Cicero apartment building that killed seven people (including four teenagers and two young children) was intentional, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Landlord Lawrence Myers has been charged with seven counts of murder and two counts of arson.

The building's maintenance man, Andre Comier, allegedly did Mr. Myers's dirty work and was also charged with multiple counts of murder and arson.

Prosecutors say Mr. Myers had a motive to collect on the $250,000 insurance policy and was secretly recorded after the blaze saying, "I told [Mr. Comier] not to hurt anybody." Unfortunately things didn't go according their alleged plan.

Twenty-three-year-old Army veteran Joseph Jesk called 911 and told the operator he had "killed the only person he'd ever loved," according to an article published by the Southtown Star. While he doesn't dispute that he shot and killed wife Heather Jesk, he insists that it was not a cold-blooded murder.

His lawyer, Illinois criminal defense attorney Michael Clancy, described it as a tragic accident but did not provide additional details as to what went wrong:

"At no time did this young man intend to harm his wife."

In what investigators believe was a targeted home invasion, a Darien couple and one of their three children were found shot to death in their home, as reported in the Chicago Sun-Times. Among the dead are 50-year-old Jeffrey R. Kramer, 48-year-old Lori Kramer and their 20-year-old son Michael J. Kramer.

The surviving daughter, whose name and age were not disclosed, called police from an upstairs closet slightly before 3 a.m. saying she heard shots fired. It wasn't known whether she witnessed the murders or was able to identify the suspect(s). A woman who was visiting the house told reporters that another son escaped through a basement window.

No weapon was found and no one has been taken into custody. So far, police have few leads other than tracks in the snow leading to where the assailant's car presumably was parked.

A 24-year-old father of three young children named Jerry Weber was repeatedly shot in the head by Edward Tenney for just $6, according to an article by the Chicago Tribune. A DuPage County jury handed down a guilty verdict to Mr. Tenney who is already in prison for two other first-degree murders.

Members of the jury next will decide whether to sentence Mr. Tenney to death, although executions in the state remain on hold after former Gov. George Ryan instituted a moratorium.

The crime took place nearly 18 years ago when Mr. Weber's van got stuck in the mud near an abandoned farm where he was collecting flagstones. Mr. Tenney and another man were collecting cans for recycling when they saw Mr. Weber.

The case of convicted South Side robber Pedro Cabrera illustrates the importance of choosing one's words wisely when speaking with a judge, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. Mr. Cabrera's case also drives home the importance of listening to your Illinois criminal attorney when he advises you how to act in court.

One simple but serious statement cost Mr. Cabrera 21 additional years in prison. Had he kept his mouth shut he would have been released a few days ago, according to the article.

Mr. Cabrera pleaded guilty in 2004 to robbing a husband and wife at knifepoint. Cook County Judge Leo Holt told four-time felon Mr. Cabrera the following, with regard to his relatively light sentence:

"You can't imagine how lucky you are. It boggles my mind." 

But that's nothing compared to what happened next.