Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Clearer Picture Emerging in Chicago Facebook Live Lawndale Gang-Rape Case

Yesterday the public learned only some of the nightmare details of what was done to a 15 year old girl from Chicago's Lawndale community. The 15 year old male, referred to in Juvenile Court only by his initials, was held in juvenile detention by Cook County Judge Patricia Mendoza after she said "the lack of a criminal history is not a get out of jail free card,” then saying "this case is absolutely heinous and one of the most serious cases I have seen.”

The 15 year old male in this case, who is the second participant arrested, is alleged to have received oral sex from the victim who was under duress at the time of the attack, and is further alleged to have slapped the victim in the head, recording a portion of the attack and sending it to someone on Facebook Messenger.   

The public learned in this recent hearing with the 15 year old male that Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Maha Gardner representing the state on that day, laid out a case in which the victim allegedly encountered the boys in a local park on March 19th, then lured into a basement that same day, and then raped by the attackers. Gardner said the state had learned that it was the 14 year old boy who had told the victim she could “have sex the easy way or the hard way” and threatened her with a pit bull attack if she tried to escape.

The allegations continue with Gardner saying the 14 year old then held her down and raped her. We now know that when police in the 10th District found the victim, she was found at 16th st. & Independence Blvd.  

Liliana Dago is a Public Defender with the Cook County Public Defender's Office, and  is assigned to represent the 15 year old male in this case. Dago said in court there was not enough evidence for several of the sexual-assault charges against the 15 year old male and that he did not engage in intercourse with the victim. ASA Gardner then fought the Public Defender, arguing that while the boy may not have had intercourse, the charges were appropriate because he was there and videotaped another person raping the girl. “They were acting in conjunction, under the theory of accountability, he can by all means be charged with this.” was the exact argument Gardner brought to her legal arsenal in the courtroom.

What Happens in Juvenile Court?

The Juvenile Court is very similar to other courtrooms. The State, the defense attorney(s), a Circuit Court Judge, Cook County Sheriff's Deputy, Court Reporter, Court Clerk, and other interested parties gather for the case to be heard. The minor is brought into the courtroom, and the Judge announces the proceedings before the court. This includes the reading of the formal criminal complaint. There is an opportunity for the defense to plea, and the court then makes sure the plea is entered voluntarily by the defendant of their own free will. The court then advises the defendant of the consequences of their plea. 

The court makes a decision as to whether the juvenile should be held, or allowed to go home pending other court hearings, trial, etc. 

About Judge Patricia Mendoza

Judge Patricia Mendoza, Linked-In Profile photo
The Honorable Patricia Mendoza hears cases in Cook County Court Calendar 53. Mendoza is an Associate Judge. Mendoza was elected to the bench on May 4th, 2005 after serving as an Assistant State's Attorney General, and was sworn-in on June 1st, 2005. Mendoza has now been on the bench for 11 years and 11 months. Her background is an education at DePaul University College of Law from 1981 to 1984, and she was the Chief of The Civil Rights Bureau for the State of Illinois Attorney General's Office prior to becoming a Cook County Associate Judge in the Juvenile Court.

About ASA Maha Gardner

Graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2005 with a B.B.A. in International Marketing and Spanish. She started Loyola in 2001. University of Wisconsin Law School 2005 to 2008, graduated with a J.D. and became an Assistant State's Attorney in Cook County in January of 2010.   

IDOT Promotes National Workzone Awareness Week, "Go Orange" Safety Day

Drivers and pedestrians alike have tuned into 530 AM on the broadcast dial for years, often-times hearing the phrase "Give em' a break!" The old IDOT broadcast station gives real-time travel times and highway conditions for the highways that run into and through Chicago.

That station, with FCC issued callsign WNIE334 still operates today from two locations, according to the current FCC ULS Database. Those locations are listed as:  I55 at Lock St. Median, Chicago, IL, Cook County, and I55 at Kedzie Ave. Median, Chicago, IL, Cook County.

IDOT has been participating in a national campaign called National Workzone Awareness Week, which, in 2017, started on April 3rd, and runs until the 7th of April. According to WorkzoneSafety, the National Workzone Information Clearinghouse,  "The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse is dedicated to providing the transportation construction industry and the general public with comprehensive information to improve motorist, worker and pedestrian safety in roadway work zones."

Other key information from their website gives this information: "The National Work Zone Safety Information Clearinghouse is the nation’s first and most comprehensive information resource on roadway construction zone safety."

Chicago-One also learned this:

"After months of consultation with experts in the traffic safety field on how such a Clearinghouse should be established and what it should contain, FHWA sought proposals for the project in a national competition. ARTBA was selected as the project manager in the fall of 1997.

In partnership with the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI), and with financial support from FHWA, the facility opened for business on February 17, 1998.

Ever since, the Clearinghouse has provided transportation agencies, highway engineers and contractors, labor unions, insurance companies, motor clubs, news media and other interested parties with a wealth of information on how to make road construction zones safer for motorists, pedestrians and highway workers.

In 2000, Clearinghouse operations were privatized and managed by the ARTBA Transportation Development Foundation (TDF), with support from the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, TTI, labor organizations and other safety groups. TTI manages the day-to-day operations, conducts the safety research and maintains the Clearinghouse website."

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner proclaimed April 11-15 as “Work Zone Safety Week” in Illinois.

Illinois Department of Transportation employees are wearing orange Wednesday in support of safe driving habits in state work zones.

“We definitely want to get people in the mindset of slowing down, getting off their phones, and being careful when they’re driving through work zones. And, this is just one way to spread awareness about it,” said IDOT Spokesperson Brian Williamson in a comment to WBMD radio in Peoria, Illinois.

“It’s something that we can do together. On our part, we try make work zones as safe as possible, both for the motoring public and for our workers. We just ask that drivers try to do the same thing.”

Williamson says you can show your support Wednesday by wearing orange, taking a photo, and posting it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram).
“Post your picture there, and if you use the hashtag #OrangeForSafety, and also tag IDOT, we’ll post your photo on the IDOT website,” said Williamson.

WGN's Sarah Jindra, NBC's Kye Martin, ABC's Roz Varon, and others wore orange on photos displayed on their twitter accounts which were then re-tweeted by IDOT District-1.

Yesterday at 10AM, IDOT hosted their National Work Zone Awareness Week kick-off event with Tollway and State Police, per a State Press Release.

IDOT released this Roadway Worker statistics graphic to help inform the public about the risks faced by workers.

Next time you see road workers, as the old IDOT broadcast station on 530AM says, "Give em' a break, slow down!"

Chicago-One News spoke briefly with IDOT Public information Officer, Gianna Urgo, who was hesitant to speak, and referred Chicago-One News only to the IDOT Twitter accounts after making an offer to answer questions about Workzone Safety Day, then only saying that it is a "national event, we didn't make it up".

Dear Ms. Urgo, please be advised that there ARE smaller news outlets in existence, and the multi-billion dollar corporate media aren't the ONLY media you can, or will ever speak to. Please practice your public relations skills. 

BREAKING NEWS - Mexican Federal Police Commander Charged with Leaking Confidential Law Enforcement Information to Drug Cartel

U.S. Federal Court, Chicago -

A former high-ranking commander in the Mexican Federal Police has been charged in federal court in Chicago with conspiring with others to corruptly impede a U.S.-based narcotics investigation.
IVAN REYES ARZATE, also known as “La Reina,” conspired with others to warn members of a Mexican drug cartel that they were the targets of an investigation being carried out by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, according to a criminal complaint and affidavit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Reyes had acquired the information through his position as a commander in the Mexican Federal Police, which was working with the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago to investigate an international drug trafficking and money laundering organization, the complaint states. Reyes and his co-conspirators tipped off cartel members when the DEA had obtained judicial authorization to intercept their phones, and leaked the identity of a cooperating source who was covertly working with the DEA to gather evidence against the cartel, the complaint states.

The complaint was filed Feb. 10, 2017, and ordered unsealed today. It charges Reyes, 45, of Mexico City, with conspiracy to corruptly obstruct, influence, and impede an official proceeding. Reyes was ordered detained in U.S. custody after making an initial appearance last week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila M. Finnegan in Chicago. The case is next up before Judge Finnegan on April 13, 2017.

The complaint was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Dennis A. Wichern, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the DEA.

The investigation is being conducted through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force. Valuable assistance has been provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of California, the Chicago Police Department, the Illinois Department of Corrections, the Illinois State Police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“The United States and Mexico have a long history of close cooperation in combatting transnational organized crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Levin. “The criminal complaint announced today is the first step in holding Mr. Reyes accountable for attempting to impede that bilateral cooperation by allegedly obstructing a significant investigation for personal gain. We remain steadfast in the unwavering commitment to disrupt and dismantle drug trafficking organizations and fight against corruption at all levels; our bilateral efforts will continue.”

According to the complaint, U.S. and Mexican authorities over the past year have been working together to investigate certain narcotics traffickers in Mexico. The investigation revealed that a network of high-level cartel members transported multiple tons of cocaine from Colombia to Mexico, and ultimately on to the United States.

Reyes was the principal point of contact for information being shared between U.S. law enforcement and the Mexican Federal Police. He first drew the attention of U.S. authorities in September 2016 while the investigation was active and ongoing, the complaint states. A member of the conspiracy sent a law enforcement surveillance photograph to an alleged Mexican drug trafficker and notified the man that he was a principal target of an investigation, the complaint states. In a conversation intercepted by law enforcement, a member of the conspiracy further informed the alleged trafficker that a confidential source cooperating with U.S. law enforcement was present at the meeting and “sitting with you the day of the picture,” according to the complaint.

Reyes’s name also surfaced the following month in additional intercepted conversations between members of the alleged Mexico-based transnational drug trafficking organization that was targeted in a joint investigation with U.S. Attorney’s Offices in Chicago and San Diego. The members of the organization discussed obtaining law enforcement information about the investigation, prompting one of the alleged Mexico City-based traffickers to identify the source of the information as “Ivan,” the complaint states. The alleged trafficker went on to say that “Ivan” previously leaked law enforcement information to a different Mexican cartel.

“Who is Ivan?” the alleged head of the transnational drug cartel asked in the intercepted conversations, according to the complaint. The alleged Mexico City trafficker responded, “The boss,” in an apparent reference to Reyes’ position as a high-ranking officer in the Mexican Federal Police. According to the complaint, in November 2016 Reyes met in person with the head of the cartel in Mexico City and discussed the leaked surveillance photograph.

The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Katherine Sawyer, Michael Ferrara and Devlin Su.

Chicago Police Arrest Suspect in South Side Quadruple Homicide

Chicago Police have arrested a 19 year old male named Maurice Harris. Harris was arrested late Tuesday night, said a statement from Chicago Police.

Maurice Harris, Chicago Police Photo

Area Central Commander Brendan Deenihan provided the public with the picture of a gruesome, angry scene in which Harris acted in a purposeful, wanton, and cruel manner. Harris is the only suspect in this quadruple homicide. When asked what Harris may have been thinking and what his motive was, Deenihan stated that Harris invoked his rights and did not confess. Deenihan stated that Harris's father was killed and that the investigation into that murder is still open, and speculated that the father's murder may have been a motive for Harris to commit the quadruple homicide.

Deenihan further stated that they do not believe the Luella st. homicide is connected to this offender. "We obviously failed him as a juvenile. If someone were to do a deep analysis of him as a juvenile, it would come as no surprise that we're here talking today." said Deenihan, after acknowledging that Mr. Harris has a well-documented juvenile history with the Chicago Police Department. "Harris was no stranger to CPD" were the exact words used by Commander Deenihan.

Commander Deenihan stated that he could not publicly disclose the contents of Harris's juvenile record. In Illinois, only Law Enforcement Officers, Judges, and the Media have access to juvenile records with limited exceptions. Juvenile records cannot be used or disclosed in Illinois until and unless a person has been convicted of a felony, at which time, the pre-sentence investigation will result in the opening and inspection / investigation of those records, and they will be used to evaluate the risk the individual poses to public safety in concert with the new felony conviction and facts of that case.     

Deenihan stated that this is Harris's first arrest as an adult. As to the matter of gang involvement, Deenihan stated that "all the players in this have gang affiliations of some kind", further saying that the Black P-Stones gang and the Gangster Disciples are the two gangs involved in this violence.

The Cook County Sheriff's Department Inmate Locator had no information about Harris as of this time.

UPDATE - April 5th at 12:33PM

Harris's mother states he was at the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identifying his father, and that she has cellphone texts with him that prove this. It appears as if CPD is aware of this contention by Harris's mother, and said they stand by the arrest.

UPDATE - April 5th at 3:20PM

Harris was in Bond Court today, and the Chicago Sun-Times reports this:   

Assistant State’s Attorney Jaime Santini said Wednesday that witnesses saw Harris follow Stokes and Davis into the restaurant with a semi-automatic handgun. After gunning down the two men inside the restaurant, Harris ran out of the restaurant. Witnesses then heard more gunshots from outside.
Defense lawyer Ian Barney said that there was no video and that he expected to present witnesses that could prove Harris was with them at the time of the murders.

“There is perhaps more to this story than has been told,” said Barney, who added that Jacobs’ funeral was scheduled for later this week.
Judge Adam Bourgeois ordered Harris held without bond, noting that the 19-year-old Harris had notched 29 juvenile arrests.

Red Line Collision Victim Identified

Yesterday, a collision occurred between a northbound CTA Red Line train, and a  female victim who was prnounced dead at the scene. The collision occurred at 521 N. State St.

The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office has confirmed that death this morning, and has said the victim has been identified as 49 year old Ann Fritzsche. Although there was some speculation yesterday on part of the Chicago Fire Department about this being a suicide, The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office said that the cause and manner of death has not been determined at this time because an autopsy is pending.