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April 2010 Archives

Graduate student Natasha McShane and her friend, Stacy Jurich, were seriously beaten with a bat and robbed in Bucktown last Friday, the Chicago Tribune reported. A Northern Irish national, Natasha McShane was out celebrating with her friend upon learning that she had gotten an internship after earning her degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The student, 23 years old, and her 24-year-old friend sustained head trauma and are being treated at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. Natasha McShane underwent a medical procedure to reduce pressure in her brain and is in critical condition, while Stacy Jurich is in serious condition.

The graduate student's parents flew to Chicago upon hearing the news and said they have never encountered this type of violence before. Grandmother Bernadette McShane spoke on behalf of Natasha McShane's parents:

"They're distraught. And they're very shocked." 

Just before the murder trial of reputed "Satan's Disciples" gang members, brothers Alberto and David Colin, pleaded guilty to killing a mother of five in 2006 as she was walking in the Pilsen neighborhood, the Chicago Tribune reported. The victim, 29-year-old Helen Coronado, was walking home from the grocery store with two of her kids.

Alberto Colin jumped out of a van in the 1800 block of South Wood St. and aimed his gun at a rival "Bishops" gang member but missed his intended target. The bullet instead hit Helen Coronado in the head, which killed her almost instantly.

The reason for the attempted hit? Prosecutors say he was retaliating against the Bishops street gang after a few members of the rival faction slapped him in the face in front of his own mother. Apparently, he decided a Bishop member had to die for his humiliation.

Illinois Senator Rev. James Meeks accompanied a 21-year-old alleged gang member accused of murdering 20-month-old Cynia Cole with an errant gunshot as he turned himself in to police, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The suspect was identified by a friend as Michael Johnson, although court records identify him as Michael J. Wilson.

The bullet that struck the South Side girl in the head and killed her was allegedly meant for her father, Jerome Hendricks, described by sources as a member of the Gangster Disciples gang. The alleged shooter is a reputed member of the rival Black P-Stones gang.

The shooter fired several shots at the family's parked car, in which the girl was seated. Intended target Jerome Hendricks said he had stopped at the home of a man who sells cigarettes when the shooter opened fire, discharging about eight rounds into the vehicle:

"I knew my baby was hit. I reached in to the back and held her with one arm while driving with the other."

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that 35-year-old Lombard woman Christy Lentz was sentenced to 50 years in prison for fatally shooting her father during a 2006 argument. She hid his body in a garbage can for more than a month after an unsuccessful attempt to burn his remains.

Christy Lentz was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this year. While she admitted to police that she shot her dad twice in the head, Illinois criminal defense attorney Richard Kayne had argued that his client acted in self-defense.

Prosecutors argued otherwise and ultimately won their case, which emphasized forensics reports showing that 58-year-old Michael Lentz had been shot in the back of the head. Prosecutor Alex McGimpsey called it a "cold-hearted crime," telling the jury that Christy Lentz "executed her father."

According to Rush University biochemistry professor Marcello DelCarlo, homemade explosives found in his garage by police were intended to be used as fireworks, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. His counsel, Chicago criminal attorney Scott Yu, also insisted that his client's homemade explosives were for "peaceful" purposes:

"They're nothing more than glorified firecrackers that the defendant was making to celebrate the 4th of July." 

But prosecutors aren't buying it.

School Superintendent Eric Witherspoon warned students and informed Evanston Township High School staff that students could be prosecuted for posting "malicious" content on a Facebook page named "Evanston Rats," according to the Chicago Tribune. That means that cyberbullies better watch out.

And according to the article, police also have gotten involved. So what's the big deal?

It may seem odd that someone would have to call a Chicago criminal attorney because of something they typed on Facebook. But the Cyberbullying Research Center shows just how hurtful this form of harassment can be. Cyberbullies can do a lot of damage.  

Police told the Chicago Herald-News that 23-year-old Hank M. Robinson is responsible for more than a dozen burglaries throughout the Joliet area. His Oldsmobile Alero was stopped close to midnight last week, after police say they observed traffic violations.

Suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty, but how will Hank Robinson possibly explain to the court why he had some unusual items in his car? Joliet Det. Jim Voudrie explained his interaction with the state trooper who stopped the suspect:

"He had a cash register and cash drawers inside the vehicle, so state police asked if we had any business burglaries."

Well yes, as a matter of fact, Joliet had experienced quite a few.

There's a reason why reputed mobsters most often get taken down on tax evasion fraud. While organized crime bosses are able to cover their tracks and hide behind lower-ranking members, hiding money and cheating the Internal Revenue Service is not so easy.

If you're caught defrauding the IRS, the strong arm of the law comes down swift and hard. And an Illinois criminal defense attorney may have a difficult time defending against suspicious paper trails.

Which brings us to the story of 28-year-old Ovidiu Isac, whom authorities believe cheated the IRS out of roughly $1.3 million dollars, as covered by the Chicago Tribune.

Reputed Chicago mob boss Frank Calabrese Sr. was convicted more than a year ago for more than a dozen murders and will spend the rest of his life in prison, as reported by the Associated Press (via HuffingtonPost). Victims' family members described Frank Calabrese Sr. as an "animal" who slit throats, strangled people and also used the old standby of a gunshot to the head.

District Judge James B. Zagel, who presided over the trial, even added to the flattery:

"You are in fact guilty of appalling acts, and the fact that there may be people in the world who are worse than you doesn't excuse your actions."

But Frank Calabrese Sr. always had a code, at least he often preached that a man should always remain loyal to his family. His Chicago criminal attorney, Joseph "The Shark" Lopez, told the court that his client had a "great relationship" with his mother.

But a court document recently filed by federal investigators paints a different picture, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. 

John F. Johnson already was in jail when he allegedly ordered a hit on his ex-wife, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. But the purported hitman he called from DuPage County Jail on July 1, 2009 actually was sheriff's investigator Rafael Osorio, who was working undercover.

And despite the evidence stacked up against John F. Johnson, who was in jail for violating an order of protection obtained by his ex, he has not retained the counsel of a Chicago criminal attorney and instead will act as his own attorney.

John F. Johnson, 42, spoke with the "hitman" for roughly 17 minutes, expressing bitterness toward the woman he allegedly wanted killed and detailing exactly how he (allegedly) wanted the murder to go down.

The services of a Chicago criminal attorney, or any attorney for that matter, rarely are cheap. But even though securing the assistance of a skilled lawyer may seem like a privilege only for the rich, everyone has the right to legal counsel and options for the less-advantaged among us do exist.

Those facing criminal charges always have the option of accepting a public defender, while personal injury lawyers often don't charge unless (and until) you receive payment for damages or a settlement. Low-income individuals also can apply for legal aid from government-funded lawyers.

Many attorneys also provide what is called "pro bono" services.

Behind every successful musician is a skilled producer, and local hip-hop star Lupe Fiasco is no exception. But an Associated Press article republished by the Chicago Tribune indicated it will be a long time before Mr. Fiasco's producer and mentor, Charles Patton, returns to the studio

Mr. Patton was convicted on drug charges more than two years ago and sentenced to 44 years in prison.

Very few details of the arrest have been made available, but an entry on the ProHipHop blog said he was busted with 6 kilograms of heroin and had used the sale of narcotics to fund his musical projects (the news link in the blog entry has since expired). Patton, who had a loaded gun in his possession at the time of his arrest, appealed his conviction because the jurors were not asked whether they had any "bias" against firearms.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on the murder of Ronald Heard Jr., a Chicago State University business student and the father of one-year-old twin boys. He was gunned down at a South Side White Castle. He reportedly tried to help a woman who was being harassed by a drug dealer.

The drug dealer, 25-year-old Darius Walton, will be spending most of the rest of his life in prison for murdering Mr. Heard, the son of a police officer.

His Chicago criminal defense attorney asked for a lighter sentence because he suffers from mental illness, but Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks showed little mercy as he looked Mr. Walton in the eye and said the following:

"It's not great fun to sentence you, but you earned it."