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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Judge steps down from case

A stalled animal cruelty trial involving the owner of southwest suburban animal rescue facility was delayed again Wednesday when a Cook County judge recused himself, sending the case back to pre-trial status.
Judge Christopher J. Donnelly last month granted a mistrial for Dawn Hamill, 42, owner of Dazzle’s Painted Pasture’s Animal Rescue and Sanctuary near Tinley Park after learning that the lead investigator and state witness had been arrested on federal extortion charges in an unrelated matter.
At the same hearing April 9, Donnelly read aloud to the court an anonymous letter he received asking him not to dismiss the case in light of the investigator’s arrest. The letter also suggested that a surprise inspection be made of Hamill’s facility, which is still licensed and operating.
At the time, Donnelly called the letter “ridiculous” and said he read it to notify all parties of its existence and to tell the letter’s writer that such communication is inappropriate and that it should be stopped immediately.
In the Markham Courthouse Wednesday, when Hamill’s new trial was set to begin, Donnelly said after additional consideration, he felt the letter should be handled in a more serious manner.
“I thought it was most appropriate for me to recues myself,” he said.
Hamill’s attorney, Purav Bhatt, said Donnelly had notified him of his intent to remove himself from the trial proceedings because of the letter.
“He’s supposed to make his decisions based on the evidence that he hears and not any outside influence,” Bhatt said.
The case was reassigned to Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos, who set a pre-trial motion hearing for May 29. “I’d like to move this along as quickly as possible,” she told both parties.
Bhatt said he plans to file a motion requesting the option of a jury trial. The previous trial, which had only progressed one day before the mistrial, was a bench trial.
He said Wednesday that he is unsure if his client will request a bench or jury trial going forward, but it is a strategic decision worth revisiting because of the anonymous letter and because of the arrest of the state’s lead witness.
Less than a week after testifying March 7 about the conditions he found at Hamill’s animal rescue facility during last year’s raid, Cook County Sheriff’s investigator Lawrence A. “Larry” Draus was arrested as part of a two-year federal undercover investigation that also involved his son, Lawrence E. “Eric” Draus.
A 35-year veteran of the department, Larry Draus was charged in a federal complaint with accepting a $10,000 cash payoff in exchange for agreeing to protect an illegal cigarette operation.
It’s still unclear whether information about Draus’ arrest will be allowed in the new trial.
“That is going to be up to the judge to decide,” Bhatt said. “I’m certainly going to try.”
Hamill is charged with misdemeanor neglect of owner’s duties and cruel treatment resulting from the February 2011 raid of her facility. During the raid, the sheriff’s office and animal control removed more than 100 animals from the property because of poor living conditions, officials said. A dead miniature horse and dead Himalayan cat were found at the rescue facility.
Bhatt said he is undecided if he would file any additional motions. Hamill’s attorneys have previously attempted have a search warrant used to raid her facility in February 2011 thrown out.


Monkey got what he deserved it the store owner should have killed the terrorist.

The robber fired two shots inside the small jewelry shop in West Rogers Park as he threatened Georgi Layous and terrorized Layous' wife and two young grandchildren, even snatching a butterfly necklace and a purse from his 4-year-old granddaughter.

Before leaving, the robber turned his back and began fiddling with a computer to get at surveillance video. The 66-year-old Layous -- paralyzed on his right side from a stroke years ago -- said he saw his chance.
Robbery foiled
Turning to his wife, he told her in Arabic, "Give me the gun." As his grandchildren cried on a couch behind him, Layous said he took the .380-caliber pistol in his left hand and shot the robber in the leg.

When police arrived, they found Musa Thomas, 19, lying on the ground next to a backpack filled with jewelry taken from the store, including the necklace and the purse, officials said. He was taken to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston to be treated for a gunshot wound to the left hip.

“I am very, very sorry for him,’’ Layous said.

Layous said he has known Thomas for five years because the teen would sometimes come into the Starlight Jewelry store in the 2700 block of West Devon Avenue and try to sell some gold jewelry.

When Thomas announced a robbery Monday afternoon, Layous said he thought he was joking.

“He came in with luggage, a schoolbag, and said, "Hi, how are you,’’ said Layous. “He opened his bag and took the gun out right away. He said, 'I’ll kill you.' And he told me to put the money in the bag right away.’’

But Layous said he told him, "You’re my friend, how could you do this to me?"

Thomas became angry when he found only $11 in the register, so he jumped onto the counter and pushed Layous to the ground, Layous said. “I told him I don’t have any money and he pushed me,’’ he said.

Layous said Thomas also pushed his wife to the ground, telling her she would kill her if she moved. After walking back and forth several times from one room to another, Layous said Thomas took jewelry from some cases and even robbed his little granddaughter Sophia, taking a purse and a jewel box and grabbing the necklace from around her neck.

“He take the jewelry from my granddaughter,’’ Layous said. “He snatched it from her neck.’’ When the robber turned away, the little girl grabbed up some of her toys and stuffed them into her pockets so "the jewelry bandit" wouldn't get them, he said.

Layous said he opened two safes for Thomas as the robber screamed and fired twice, missing him and his family.

While Thomas was at a computer, trying to remove surveillance video tapes, Layous said his wife handed him the gun he keeps in the store for protection. “I asked my wife to give me the gun and I shot him in the leg,’’ Layous said.

Thomas, of the 1300 block of Union Avenue, was charged with armed robbery. Layous said police took his gun but did not cite him with anything.

Layous said he has operated other jewelry shops on Devon Avenue for more than 20 years. His daughter Caroline Layous said her father has a kind heart. "He's always trying to help people.’’

Not all police agencies enforce this law some in lower Illinois ignor it

<b><big>Charge: Kidnapping, interfering with custody, endangering the welfare of a child</big></b><br><a href=",0,3310567.story"target="_blank">Read more>></a>Heather Minton

Charge: Kidnapping, interfering with visitation, endangering the welfare of a child, concealing a child from non custodial parent

Most Police Agencies in central Illinois those officer's think that it is a civil matter when the custodial parent refuses visitation. But cops in Rantoul, Ludlo, Gifford, Paxton, Gilman, and Thomasboro all say it is a civil matter. But ILCS classifies this as a class A misdeminor. Wake up dub ass I think I am the police. I say to those cops spend a year in Cook County with our cops and you will see what real police work is.

Terrorists charged in Link fruad

<b><big>Charge: Felony public aid wire fraud, misdemeanor possession of stolen property</big></b><br><a href=""target="_blank">Read more>></a>

Usama Bawazir


<b><big>Charge: Felony public aid wire fraud, misdemeanor possession of stolen property</big></b><br><a href=""target="_blank">Read more>></a>     Jennifer M. Mahmood

An Evanston store manager and his girlfriend each face charges of fraud and possession of stolen property after authorities allege the pair accepted cash in exchange for illegitimate LINK card transactions.
Evanston police on Saturday announced charges against Willowbrook residents Usama Bawazir, 27, manager of A.J. Mini-Mart, 1901 Church St., and his girlfriend Jennifer M. Mahmood, 22, an employee at the mini-mart and adjacent A.J. Wireless store, 1700 Dodge Ave.
Both face one felony count of public aid wire fraud and three misdemeanor counts of possession of stolen property, police said.
In the later charge, Evanston police allege they recovered 16 electronic items suspected of being stolen. Several owners of those items have been identified, police said.
Evanston police and agents with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Secret Service executed a search warrant at 10 a.m. Thursday at both stores. Investigators confiscated records and various handheld electronic devices in the raid.
Both stores share the same phone number, according to online listings. Calls to that number went unanswered Monday morning.
Bawazir and Mahmood are expected to appear in court on May 22 in Skokie. Neither could be reached for comment.

Sarge's Military tribute to Sgt. David Nowaczyk

I just wanted to say thank you to your family for your altimit sacrifice of losing a loved one for my freedom. I am sorry for your loss. You will be missed but not forgotten.

Dyer, Ind. - Funeral services will be held Wednesday for Sgt. David Nowaczyk of Dyer, Ind., who was killed in Afghanistan.

Nowaczyk, 32, was killed last month when his military vehicle was hit by a bomb. This was his third tour of duty.

He leaves behind a wife, Rachel, a 2-year-old daughter and an older stepson.

Nowaczyk was a graduate of Lake Central High School.

Funeral mass will be held on Wednesday at St. Thomas More Church, 8501 Calumet Ave., in Munster.

Man fatally stabbed in his home in Harvey

A Harvey man was stabbed to death during a quarrel with a friend inside the home they shared, authorities said.

Killed was Terry Krueger, 49, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office. An autopsy is scheduled for today.

Krueger and the friend were drinking inside their home in the 15000 block of South Morgan Street late Tuesday night when they started arguing, authorities said.

The man stabbed Krueger, but also suffered lacerations during the attack, authorities said. Krueger's girlfriend witnessed part of the attack, they said.

Krueger was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where he was pronounced dead just before midnight, a medical examiner's spokeswoman said.

Krueger's friend was also hospitalized and was under police guard, officials said.

A representative of Harvey police wasn't immediately available for comment.

How Daley beefed up his pension payouts

Two years into his reign as Chicago's longest-serving mayor, Richard M. Daley took advantage of the state's convoluted pension system to significantly increase his potential payout while saving $400,000 in contributions, a Tribune/WGN-TV investigation has found.

Daley, a former state senator, made it happen by briefly rejoining the legislative pension plan in 1991. He stayed there just one month before returning to Chicago's municipal pension fund, but the switches made him eligible for benefits worth 85 percent of his mayoral salary — a better rate than all other city employees receive.

He was just 49 years old at the time. Even if Daley had never won another election, he could have started collecting a public pension at age 55 of $97,750 a year. Without the steps he took, his public pension benefits at that age would have been worth just $20,686.

Of course, Daley went on to win five more elections, remaining ensconced on the fifth floor of City Hall for the next two decades. When he retired last May, his pension benefits had grown to $183,778 a year — about $50,000 more than he would have otherwise received.

Daley declined to be interviewed for this story. His spokeswoman, Jacquelyn Heard, wrote in an email: "I can only assume that his pension was handled in the same manner that anyone's would be, given the length of service — nearly 40 years — in government."

The Tribune and WGN-TV already have detailed how Daley used the city's pension funds for political purposes. In 1991, the same year he secured his much larger pension, Daley's administration helped aldermen land a dramatic pension increase, providing them with benefits far exceeding those of the average city worker.

The same legislation, rushed through the General Assembly on the last day of the session, also gave private labor leaders public pensions based on their much higher union salaries. Under Daley's watch, former Chicago Federation of Labor President Dennis Gannon was given a one-day city job that allowed him to collect a public pension based on his $200,000 private union salary.

In 1995, when Daley wanted to fund his school reform package, his administration pushed legislation that allowed it to divert $1.5 billion from the Chicago Teachers' Pension Fund over a 15-year period.

All the while, Daley blessed benefit increases for city workers without ensuring that payments into the funds would cover the costs, a problem worsened by the economic downturn. Today, the combined unfunded liabilities of Chicago's four pension funds have grown to nearly $20 billion, which doesn't include the $6.8 billion shortfall at the teachers fund.

The city's pension debt is not only damaging Chicago's financial stability, but also breeding cynicism about government's ability to provide modest pensions to the people who teach the city's children, collect the garbage, run into burning buildings and keep the peace.

"When these plans are misused, there is a price that will be paid by taxpayers and other pension plan participants," wrote Keith Brainard, research director at the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, in an email after hearing of Daley's deal. "But there's another cost, possibly far greater than the financial cost. That cost is the erosion of public support for decent retirement benefits for employees of the state and local government."

Last week Mayor Rahm Emanuel wrote to legislative leaders in Springfield urging them to move forward on meaningful pension reform and outlined four principles the mayor would support, including increasing the retirement age and suspending automatic increases for pension benefits.

"If our pension system is not reformed, Chicago has two roads to take: We can watch each of our funds go bankrupt ... and be unable to pay the hardworking people who have paid into their retirement funds, or we will be forced to raise property taxes by $1.4 billion per year — triple what we now pay toward pension costs," Emanuel wrote to House Speaker Michael Madigan, Senate President John Cullerton and minority leaders Rep. Tom Cross and Sen. Christine Radogno.

In response to questions about a Tribune/WGN-TV story about aldermanic pension perks, Emanuel said Tuesday that broad reforms are needed. "What I don't want to see is that we ... take our eyes off the big change that is required."

Daley left an indelible mark on the city. But Chicago's pension crisis threatens to become part of that legacy, shaping the city's future as much as Millennium Park, the expansions of O'Hare International Airport and McCormick Place, or any of his other achievements as mayor.

His own public pension, meanwhile, will end up costing taxpayers all over the state. Records show that his contributions to the statewide General Assembly pension fund weren't nearly enough to cover the benefits he receives.

Generous laws

The roundabout way that Daley lined up his pension was made possible by a law sponsored in 1981 by then-state Sen. John D'Arco, D-Chicago, who was convicted on federal bribery charges in 1991 and 1995.

Under the law, members who had left the General Assembly but were participating in other Illinois public pension funds could rejoin the state legislative fund for up to four years as long as they did so by Jan. 1, 1992. At the time, the former members had to have at least eight years of service in the General Assembly Retirement System, known as GARS, to qualify.

Police officer seriously hurt in SW Side crash

squad car crash

A Chicago police sergeant was injured in a crash early Wednesday morning. _20120502080920_JPG
Chicago - A Chicago police sergeant and another man were injured when a squad car and another vehicle collided early Wednesday on the Southwest Side.

The accident happened about 2:21 a.m. at the intersection of 59th Street and California Avenue, and involved a squad car and one other vehicle, police said.

The police sergeant was taken in “stable” condition to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, with non-life-threatening injuries, police said. He had suffered a head injury that included some swelling, but police said he was conscious and talking at the scene.

The driver of the other vehicle, a man, suffered bumps and bruises and was taken to Holy Cross Hospital.

The police Major Accident Investigation Unit is investigatingA Chicago police sergeant was seriously injured this morning when his squad car was struck by another vehicle in a crash that authorities suspect was alcohol-related, officials said.

The officer collided with a green Ford at about 2:22 a.m. near the intersection of 59th Street and California Avenue in the Chicago Lawn neighborhood, police said.

No details of the accident were available, but a police spokesman said alcohol was suspected in the crash and that charges were pending against the second driver.

The officer was admitted to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn in serious-to-critical condition, police said. Authorities initially believed that the sergeant suffered only minor injuries, but later found more extensive injuries internally, authorities said.

The Ford's driver was taken to Holy Cross Hospital, but his condition wasn't known, police said.