The Chicago Criminal Law Blog - Find a Chicago Criminal Attorney

June 2012 Archives

Dentist Acquitted of One Fondling; Faces Trial for Another

They say, "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Prior to today's ruling, it looked like Dr. Ernest Panos, 81, was going to be on the hook for two sexual abuse charges against two different girls. At his age, a conviction on either charge would almost certainly mean death behind bars. Today, he was acquitted of the first charge, reports the Chicago Tribune.

For his defense team, that's one down and one to go. Dr. Panos' charges got extra attention in the media due to the timing of the charges. He was arrested in August of 2010 for charges related to today's case. He was released shortly thereafter when prosecutors declined to press charges. However, he was picked up again a few months later when the charges were re-filed.

Murder Rate Skyrockets, New Law Enforcement Strategies Needed

Here are a few not-so-fun facts about Chicago crime. Homicides are up 38 percent from a year ago. Compare that with New York and Los Angeles, which have not experienced an increase, despite the desperate state of the economy. Other crime in Chicago, such as robbery, rape, and auto theft has actually decreased by about 10 percent, reports The New York Times.

Why the disparity? A large part of it can be blamed on gang violence. According to the Times, gangs have splintered into over 600 smaller offshoots, each with ready access to guns. With more players in the game, there will be more clashes between cliques.

If at First You Fail To Infringe Upon Their Gun Rights...

After losing in the Supreme Court on a 28-year-old handgun ban in 2010, and losing again last week on a partial gun ban, Chicago politicians — heeding the immortal words of Aaliyah — have decided to dust themselves off and try again, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

On the one hand, you have to admire the resilience. Perhaps the third attempt at skirting the Second Amendment will prove to be a charm. On the other hand, they say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over, and over, and over again, all the while expecting differing results.

Illinois Supreme Court: She's 17; Sex Okay, Pictures Not!

It's not often that we, or the Illinois Supreme Court, get to ask the question: when is child porn actually child porn? It's usually pretty obvious. However, there are occasionally borderline cases, and the oft-mocked U.S. Supreme Court obscenity test of "I know it when I see it" doesn't exactly provide a great litmus test for the pervert with a camera.

This week, however, the Illinois Supreme Court answered that question when a case highlighting the incongruities of consent laws versus child pornography laws made its way to the highest court in the state, reports CBS Chicago.

Prison Break: Seven Hours of Freedom Will Cost Him

The plot wasn't nearly as intricate as Michael's plan in "Prison Break". There were no blueprints tattooed on his body, nor team of inmates completing Mission Impossible-esque tasks to escape from a maximum security prison.

No, Alex Bell's escape was much less interesting. He walked out of a hospital when his guard went to go to the restroom, reports ABC 7 News. He hopped a train and hitchhiked his way to his wife's house, where he was apprehended only seven hours later. (He must have really, really missed her.)

Ten Years for Craigslist Pedophile, Illinois Sex Offender Registry

Under the terms of a plea bargain between himself and the State's Attorney's office, Brandon J. Bergthold, 25, of the Frankfort Square area of Will County, will spend at least the next five years in prison and up to ten years total, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the Sun-Times, Bergthold placed an ad on Craigslist seeking "fathers willing to share their daughters." He was caught in a sting operation.

An undercover officer working in the Cook County Sheriff's Child Exploitation Unit posed as a father of a six-year-old girl. After two months of back and forth over the Internet, Bergthold began to push aggressively for a meeting. Worried that he might seek out another victim, the police set up a meeting immediately and arrested Bergthold.

Rahm Supports Marijuana Decriminalization in Chicago

It looks like Chicago might be following in the footsteps of New York City and California. According to the Chicago Tribune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has thrown his support behind an ordinance that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana.

Under the new law, instead of facing up to six months in jail, plus a $1,500 fine for carrying cannabis, $100-$500 tickets would be the punishment for possession of 15 grams or less.

Insanely High Murder Rates Lead to RICO-esque Gang Laws

Every Monday, it seems, there is a new headline reading "Dozens Murdered over the Weekend." We wrote one of those ourselves, thinking Memorial Day weekend was particularly bad.

It turns out it wasn't. The whole year has been bad. The 2012 homicide rate has spiked 60 percent over last year, reports the Chicago Tribune, and Redeye Chicago tallies 50 homicides in May alone. Obviously, something more is going on than one bad weekend.

Man Caught Recording Up Underage Girl's Skirt; Faces Prison

Dana Gould faces a pretty significant prison term after getting caught attempting to take photos or videos of a 13-year-old girl's underwear, reports the Daily Herald. On May 17, the girl's mother , spotted Gould trying to tape her daughter in a Wheeling store, and alerted security. Gould was not detained and left the premises while security was reviewing the footage.

Fortunately, in addition to being an alleged 'pervertrator,' he's also fearless. He went back to the exact same store on Monday of last week. A store employee recognized him, the police were called, and he was arrested.

Will Balfour Get a New Trial in Hudson Murder Cases?

These cases never seem to end with the trial, do they? We've covered the trial of William Balfour, the man accused and convicted of murdering family members of R&B star and actress Jennifer Hudson, pretty extensively.

How Much Justice Could Conrad Black Afford?

Conrad Black was originally accused of stealing $400 million from his companies. Prosecutors charged him with the theft of $80 million, then reduced the charge to $60 million. After the jury found him not guilty of 9 out of 13 charges, it was even less. After the U.S. Supreme Court and the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals got involved, only two questionable charges were left, amounting to about $285,000 in fraud. He paid $32 million in restitution, reports the Wall Street Journal.

All of that is last year's news. What's new for the newspaper magnate is that he was recently released from prison and wants the last two charges cleared. Why? The right to an attorney of one's choice, of course.

Pregnant Woman Tasered, Arrested Over Parking Ticket

Well, Chicago is the sixth most ticketed city in America, at least, according to a questionable survey and Chicagoist.

Tiffany Rent, who is eight months pregnant, was driving along when she had one of those parental emergencies. You know the type, where one kid in the back seat spilled something or threw a fit. She pulled into a parking lot, parked, and dealt with her daughter, reports CBS Chicago.

Oak Park's Only Gay Club Burned Down ... Hate Crime?

The Velvet Rope Ultra Lounge was the target of a suspicious fire on Sunday morning, reports FOX Chicago. The owner of the business was notified at 6 a.m. that his club was on fire. Fire investigators found derogatory messages scrawled on a wall inside the club and are investigating the fire as arson.

The club, which is the only gay club in Oak Park, was doing quite well before the fire, and the owner has plans to open a new location in Boystown.

Exonerated: Kluppelberg Released After 24 Years for Deadly Arson

What does he do now? Twenty-four long years after being falsely convicted, James Kluppelberg is now a free man. His wife left him and his children and grandchildren don't know him. He has no close family and $14.17 in his pocket, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Sometimes, in this country, it seems you are innocent until proven guilty until proven innocent.