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June 2011 Archives

Jay Mariotti's Preliminary Hearing: Mariotti to Stand Trial

At Jay Mariotti’s preliminary hearing, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge found enough evidence to order Mariotti to stand trial and answer to felony charges of stalking and assault of his ex-girlfriend.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Mariotti, the long-time Chicago Sun-Times columnist and former ESPN television personality, was accused of confronting his ex-girlfriend at a Los Angeles restaurant, the same day that a court had ordered him to stay away from her due to an earlier battery charge.

Mariotti was also charged in a separate incident a few months later, when he again confronted his ex-girlfriend at a restaurant, only this time he was accused of pulling her hair, grabbing her cell phone, and yelling at her.

Illinois Backseat Seat Belt Law Now Effective

Governor Pat Quinn signed a new law that will require backseat passengers to wear seat belts in Illinois.

According to the Chicago Tribune, the measure strengthens current seat belt laws requiring frontseat passengers to wear safety belts by now requiring backseat passengers to wear safety belts too.

Police can now stop vehicles if they notice backseat or frontseat passengers not wearing safety belts. Violators face a $25 fine reports the Tribune.

The Illinois seat belt law was sponsored by Senate President John Cullerton, a Chicago Democrat. Cullerton was the author of Illinois' first seat belt laws in the 1980s reports the Tribune.

Blagojevich Guilty of 17 Corruption Charges

A federal jury found Rod Blagojevich guilty on 17 of the 20 corruption charges leveled against him.

Most notably, Blagojevich was convicted of all 11 counts of trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after Obama was elected President in 2008 reports the Chicago Tribune. This includes an attempt to give the seat to Jesse Jackson Jr. in exchange for $1.5 million in campaign contributions.

Blagojevich was also convicted of all three counts of attempting to shake down Children’s Memorial Hospital and a racetrack executive. In both cases, Blagojevich was alleged to have demanded campaign contributions in exchange for some state action reports the Tribune.

Former Sun-Times Owner Conrad Black to be Re-Sentenced

At a re-sentencing hearing, a federal judge in Chicago will determine whether Conrad Black, former media baron and owner of the Chicago Sun-Times, will return to prison or be released based on time served. Black was originally sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison for defrauding investors, but he was released after two years to pursue partially successful appeals, reports Reuters.

According to Reuters, Black was accused of siphoning millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers held by his company, Hollinger International. He was convicted of fraud and obstructing justice in 2007 before being released in July 2010 to pursue his appeals.

An appeals court subsequently threw out two of the three fraud charges levied against Black, and a sentencing judge will now determine whether Black’s 29 months served was adequate punishment.

Drunk Chicago Man Arrested for Performing Surgery on Dog

Stewart Gibbs of Chicago is facing felony animal cruelty charges after Chicago Police arrested him for allegedly performing a surgical procedure on his dog’s head.

According to the New York Daily News, Gibbs was obviously drunk and covered in blood when police showed up at his West Loop apartment following a complaint. When police entered his apartment, they saw blood on the floor and a large black Doberman with a gash on his head.

Alvin Kang Charged With Pointing Laser At Police Helicopter

Alvin Kang, a graduate student at Northwestern, has been arrested with two other men for allegedly pointing a laser beam at a police helicopter. The Chicago Tribune reports that the three men are now facing misdemeanor charges for unlawful use of a weapon -- the laser pointer.

According to the Tribune, a Chicago Police helicopter was hovering above the Old Town Triangle neighborhood when Kang and his cohorts shone a green laser beam into the cockpit. Blinded by the light, the helicopter crew donned night vision goggles and directed police officers to the source of the light. Kang and two other men were arrested on a nearby building rooftop.

In allegedly committing the crime, Kang and his buddies may have thought they were playing a harmless prank worthy of a slap-on-the-wrist by prosecutors. However, they would be very wrong if they thought this.

83 Percent of Chicago Men Arrested Test Positive for Drugs

A White House study revealed that 83 percent of men arrested in Cook County test positive for illegal drugs following arrest. The study of arrests last year put Chicago at the top of a national list for drug abuse ahead of cities like Washington D.C., Atlanta, and New York reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Sun-Times, over half of the Chicago men arrested tested positive for marijuana, a quarter tested positive for cocaine, and ten percent for heroin or other opiates. A quarter of the inmates also tested positive for multiple drugs.

Brian Annoreno Gets 40 Years for Child Pornography

Brian Annoreno will spend his next 40 years in prison after being sentenced for his child pornography crimes. Last year, Annoreno pled guilty to a variety of crimes relating to child pornography after he was arrested for molesting an infant and live-streaming the act over the Internet reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to the Sun-Times, Annoreno took part in a worldwide child pornography ring on Internet chat rooms like “Kiddpics & Kiddyvds.” In these chat rooms, Annoreno was accused of swapping thousands of pornographic images and videos with people around the world.

Illinois State troopers have been issuing speeding tickets on Chicago highways at a higher rate than ever before. According to a Chicago Sun-Times review of speeding data since January 2000, a record 79,724 speeding tickets were issued last year — 13 percent more than in 2009 and a whopping 75 percent more than in 2004.

The Sun-Times reports definite trends in the data showing which factors most likely play a role in getting a ticket. For example, the time of day someone is driving, the day of the week, and location all influence the likelihood of getting a ticket.

However, as you may have guessed, the overwhelming determinant in whether someone receives a speeding ticket is speed.

Muddy Paws' Diane Eldrup May Plead Guilty to Animal Cruelty

Lake County prosecutors may negotiate a plea deal with Diane Eldrup, the woman charged with multiple counts of animal torture and aggravated cruelty at her Muddy Paws Dog Rescue. Eldrup was arrested in December after police found dozens of starved dead dogs inside filthy cages at her Deer Park animal shelter reports the Daily Herald.

According to the Herald, police also found three dead birds and a dead opossum at the kennel. The Muddy Paws Dog Rescue, which included a kennel and attached residence, has since been shut down and deemed inhabitable by officials due to its disgusting conditions.

Rahm Emanuel Wants Justice Against Flash Mobs

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling on Chicago police to crack down on flash mobs responsible for five weekend attacks in the upscale Streeterville neighborhood. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, a group of 15 to 20 young men were responsible for a series of crimes that included beating and robbing victims, pushing cyclists into the lake, and dragging people out of cars and taxis.

Rahm Emanuel believes that these flash mobs are gathering via social networking tools like Twitter and text-messaging reports the Sun-Times. And while the social media phenomena of youths gathering together to commit some group activity like spontaneously dancing in a mall has existed for some time, the violent turn taken by the mob in Streeterville is particularly alarming.

Chicago Police Remind Bicyclists to Obey Traffic Laws

Police in downtown Chicago are making a concerted effort to crack down on bicyclists violating traffic laws. The Chicago Tribune is reporting that cops are stopping bicyclists and reminding them that they are not above the law when they run red lights, blow by stop signs, and ignore other traffic laws. So far, Chicago police have given dozens of warnings and have even issued a ticket.

According to the Tribune, Chicago’s bicycling ambassadors program is using this crack-down as an opportunity to educate bicyclists that they must follow traffic laws as well additional regulations specific to bicycle riding.

At a house party in Joliet, aspiring rapper John “Fatboy” Powell died shortly after agreeing to be punched in the face by Tiffany Startz. According to ABC News, Powell was performing at a house party with his band Krazy Killaz when he accepted a $5 bet to be punched in the face by a woman.

ABC News reports that a man was offering anyone at the party $5 to be punched by the 142-pound Startz. After Powell accepted the bet and was punched, he passed out and died. An autopsy revealed that Powell died from a brain hemorrhage caused by blunt force trauma.

In a spate of shootings across Chicago, six people were murdered and at least 21 others were wounded. Ironically, the Memorial Day violence comes on the heels of an FBI study showing an almost across-the-board decrease in crime in Chicago as well as the re-deployment of 500 Chicago police officers to high-crime districts.

According to the Chicago Tribune, some of those killed during the Memorial Day violence include Lavarro Taylor who was shot to death after coming to the aid of his beaten girlfriend, Stephen Hill who was killed in a drive-by shooting, 16-year-old Karla Allen who was also killed in a drive-by shooting, and Elliot Alexander who was killed while waiting for his girlfriend to get off work so that they could celebrate her birthday.