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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cook County not only has corrupt politics but So does the sheriff's office Deputy Lawrence A. Draus,, also known as “Larry,” 62, of Lansing, a Sheriff’s Police officer who was assigned to the Special Operations Division, Vice Unit, in Maywood

A press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Officeabout cigarette bootlegging offenses before the tax is increase another $1 a pack:


CHICAGO — At an undercover warehouse in suburban Hickory Hills, defendants allegedly brought millions of dollars in cash, firearms, narcotics, and counterfeit cigarette tax stamps to purchase millions of unstamped, untaxed cigarettes from two cooperating individuals working undercover with federal agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Altogether, between March 2010 and March 2012, defendants allegedly paid more than $20 million to buy more than 100 million cigarettes without paying Cook County and State of Illinois taxes.
The investigation resulted in federal charges against more than a dozen defendants, including a veteran Cook County sheriff’s police officer.
Following their arrest on March 13, 2012, 10 of those defendants were formally charged in six indictments that were returned yesterday by a federal grand jury, while other defendants remain charged in complaints that were filed previously.

Patrick Fitzgerald
The indictments were announced by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Andrew L. Traver, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Office of ATF; and Thomas M. Jankowski, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The Illinois Department of Revenue and the Hickory Hills Police Department provided valuable assistance in the investigation.
“The distribution of untaxed cigarettes deprives the state and county of significant revenue and this investigation shows that we will work aggressively to ensure that those who allegedly traffic in contraband cigarettes are prosecuted,” Mr. Traver said.
According to court documents, distributors or wholesalers of cigarettes in Illinois must apply for and receive a license from the Illinois Department of Revenue.
Licensed distributors must also purchase tax stamps from the state and Cook County and affix the stamps to each pack of cigarettes that they sell, evidencing proof that the taxes have been paid.
Beginning in March 2010, two cooperating individuals (CS1 and CS2) sold unstamped cigarettes under the direction of ATF agents, and they recorded their telephone conversations and in-person meetings with their customers.
After October 2010, the vast majority of sales of unstamped cigarettes occurred at an undercover warehouse operated by ATF agents, with hidden cameras capturing audio and video recordings of meetings between CS1 and CS2 and their customers.
Between June 2011 and February, 2012, a pending criminal complaint alleges that
  • Lawrence E. Draus, also known as “Eric,” 33, of Peotone, and
  • his father, Lawrence A. Draus,, also known as “Larry,” 62, of Lansing, a Sheriff’s Police officer who was assigned to the Special Operations Division, Vice Unit, in Maywood
conspired to commit extortion by obtaining at least $10,000 to protect the cigarette trafficking from the warehouse.

Cigarette smoke pours out of this car.
Lawrence E. Draus, was also charged with purchasing contraband cigarettes.
Both defendants were released on bond and the charges remain pending.
The following six indictments were returned yesterday against a total of 10 defendants, all of whom were released on bond following their arrest in March and will be arraigned on later dates in U.S. District Court:
United States v. Mustafa Mohd Shaikh, 12 CR 166
Mustafa Mohd Shaikh, 47, of Tinley Park, was charged with 17 counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes, two counts of money laundering, and two counts of filing false federal income tax returns in a 21-count indictment.
Between March 2010 and February 2012, Shaikh allegedly conducted at least 66 transactions in which he paid the two cooperating individuals more than $9 million for more than 32 million unstamped cigarettes.
The indictment seek forfeiture of at least $680,000, including $600,000 that was seized when Shaikh was arrested, as well as an additional $37,200 that was seized a day later from two bank accounts and his residence, and two vehicles that were seized, a 2012 Infiniti QX56 and a 2009 Nissan Altima.
One money laundering count alleges that Shaikh attempted to illegally transfer money to Jordan, and the tax counts allege that he under-reported his total income on his 2010 and 2011 income tax returns.
United States v. Zulfiqar Alvi and John James, 12 CR 173
  • Zulfiqar Alvi, 62, of Justice, was charged with four counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes and two counts of filing false federal income tax returns, and
  • John James, 66, of Bourbonnais, was charged with three counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes and one count of possessing and selling counterfeit tax stamps, in an eight-count indictment.
Alvi allegedly conducted approximately 69 transactions in which he paid the two cooperating individuals more than $4 million for more than 32 million unstamped cigarettes. James allegedly conducted 11 transactions in which he paid approximately $675,000 for more than 6 million unstamped cigarettes. Alvi also allegedly under-reported his total income on his 2010 and 2011 income tax returns.
United States v. Aiman Othman, 12 CR 168
Aiman Othman, 32, of Oak Lawn, was charged with seven counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes, one count of money laundering, two counts of illegally possessing firearms as a previously convicted felon, and one count of dealing firearms without a license in an 11-count indictment. Othman allegedly conducted 44 transactions in which he paid the two cooperating individuals more than $3.4 million and provided 161 firearms in exchange for more than 23.1 million unstamped cigarettes. The indictment seeks forfeiture of approximately 161 firearms that were seized during the investigation and a 2008 Cadillac Escalade.
United States v. Firas el Matari and Ammar el Matari, 12 CR 171
  • Firas el Matari, 37, and
  • his brother, Ammar el Matari, 33,
both of Tinley Park, were each charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes in an 11-count indictment. Firas el Matari was also charged with seven counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes and one count of possessing and selling counterfeit tax stamps, while Ammar el Matari was also charged with six counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes. Together, they allegedly conducted approximately 25 transactions in which they paid more than $3.3 million for more than 23 million unstamped cigarettes.
A DuPage County gas station advertises lower taxes than in Cook County.
United States v. Mohammad al Sakhleh and Mahmoud al Qaisi, 12 CR 170
  • Mohammad Al Sakhleh, 27, of Merced, Calif., and
  • Mahmoud Al Qaisi, 41, of Justice,
were each charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes in a five-count indictment. Al Sakhleh was also charged with one count each of trafficking contraband cigarettes and money laundering, while Al Qaisi was also charged with two counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes. The charges allege that Al Sakhleh obtained contraband cigarettes bearing counterfeit New York and New Jersey tax stamps, and that Al Qaisi would find buyers for the cigarettes. Together, they allegedly purchased approximately 3.6 million cigarettes for more than $450,000. The indictment seeks forfeiture of $100,000 that was seized when they were arrested, as well as an additional $159,000 from Al Sakhleh in alleged money laundering proceeds.
United States v. Victoria Jaber and Chadia Abueid, 12 CR 172
  • Victoria Jaber, 30, of Chicago, and
  • Chadia Abueid, 32, of Chicago,
were each charged with one count of conspiracy to traffic contraband cigarettes in a 13-count indictment. Jaber was also charged with five counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes, two counts of possessing and selling counterfeit tax stamps, and four counts of distributing cocaine, while Abueid was also charged with four counts of trafficking contraband cigarettes and three counts of possessing and selling counterfeit tax stamps. Together, Jaber and Abueid allegedly conducted 26 transactions in which they paid $291,000 for more than 2.8 million unstamped cigarettes. They also exchanged approximately 100,000 counterfeit tax stamps for contraband cigarettes, which they resold for a profit, the charges allege. Jaber also allegedly distributed a total of approximately 4.9 kilograms of cocaine to one of the cooperating individuals.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sunil R. Harjani, Christopher T. Grohman, and Scott V. Bruner.
The charges in these cases carry the following maximum penalties on each count:
  • conspiracy and trafficking contraband cigarettes — five years in prison and a $250,000 fine;
  • possessing and selling counterfeit tax stamps — 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine;
  • money laundering — different statutes carry a maximum of either 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, or 10 years and a $250,000 fine, and both provide for an alternative fine totaling twice the amount of the funds involved in the transaction;
  • filing a false federal income tax return — three years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, a defendant convicted of tax offenses faces mandatory costs of prosecution and remains civilly liable to the Government for any and all back taxes, as well as a potential civil fraud penalty of up to 75 percent of the underpayment plus interest; and
  • distribution of cocaine — mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum of 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5 million.
If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that indictments and complaints contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

DUI driver slams in to police in the Harrison area

A speeding, intoxicated motorist drove past a police station – almost crashing into a squad car -- and then tried to give an officer $5,000 to let him go this week on the West Side, police said today.

Martin Johnson was charged with bribery, driving while under the influence and driving with a revoked license, according to Harrison District police Lt. John Andrews.

Johnson, 34, of the 4200 block of West Jackson Boulevard, was also cited with several traffic violations after Tuesday's arrest. Johnson was expected to appear in court today but bond information was not immediately available.

An officer couldn’t help but notice Johnson because he was westbound on Harrison at a high rate of speed near the police station in the 3100 block of West Harrison Street about 5 p.m. Tuesday.

The officer was pulling out of the station’s parking lot and saw Johnson cross the center line and nearly plow into his squad car before taking a right onto northbound Kedzie Avenue, according to a police report.

Pursuing officers apparently lost track of the vehicle but it was stopped about a mile and a half away in the 700 block of North Kedzie Avenue after a flash message with the car’s description was broadcast over police radio, the report said.

As officers asked him to produce his license, he appeared incoherent and officers smelled alcohol on his breath, according to the report.

Johnson had “bloodshot, glassy eyes,’’ slurred speech, and had trouble keeping his balance while leaning on his vehicle for support, the report said.

After refusing to take a field sobriety test, Johnson allegedly tried to bribe an officer, saying: “I’ll give you ($5,000) if you let me go,’’ the report said.

A clear plastic water bottle containing liquid suspected to be alcohol was recovered from the car during a search, police said.

Man sues the City of Chicago for wrongful imprisionment

Jacques Rivera speaks to reporters after leaving Cook County Jail a free man last October.A man sent to prison for murder 21 years ago, then released last fall after a key witness recanted, accuses Chicago police in a lawsuit of manipulating the witness and falsifying evidence.

“Jacques Rivera has suffered a grave injustice at the hands of Chicago police," attorney Locke Bowman said today in announcing the lawsuit. “This is a pattern within the Chicago Police Department."

Rivera, a former Latin King, was convicted of killing 16-year-old Felix Valentin during a summer of rising violence among warring street gangs in Chicago's West Humboldt Park neighborhood in 1988.

The state's only witness was 12 at the time of the murder. Orlando Lopez testified he was hiding in an alcove about 25 feet away when he saw Rivera fire shots into Valentin's parked car, then turn toward him and look in his direction.

Judge Michael Close convicted Rivera of the murder and sentenced him to 80 years in prison.

Rivera's lawyers with Northwestern University's Center on Wrongful Convictions tracked down Lopez in 2010. He recanted his testimony, swearing in an affidavit that he tried to notify police and prosecutors before Rivera's trial that he had identified the wrong individual but that they wouldn't listen.

Last month, Judge Neera Walsh ruled that Lopez's recantation was credible and ordered a new trial for Rivera. Cook County prosecutors then decided not to retry Rivera and he was released from jail last October.

According to the suit, Lopez was unable to identify anyone as Valentin’s assailant during the first line-up that included Rivera. The suit claims that no police record was made of this line-up and, instead, "detectives falsified records to show that Lopez had not viewed the line-up."

Lopez later encountered the "actual shooter in his neighborhood," according to the suit. Lopez told police but they "proceeded to pressure and manipulate the 12-year-old boy into falsely identifying Rivera," the suit contends.

"Simply releasing Mr. Rivera from prison has not made him whole for all that he has suffered,” said Jon Loevy, another attorney for Rivera. “He deserves compensation for the injustice that cost him so much of his life.”

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Aldermen approved Wednesday up to $5.2 million

Harper Court Project ChicagoAldermen approved Wednesday up to $5.2 million in subsidies for a 131-room hotel in Hyde Park.

The $28.6 million project at the northeast corner of Harper Avenue and East 52nd Place will be developed by Smart Hotels LLC and The Olympia Companies. It will managed by SHG Chicago LLC under a under a franchise deal with an affiliate of Hyatt.

The 84,000-square-foot project will include 50 below-ground parking spaces, a small workout facility and pool for guests. The University of Chicago owns the land.

This is the second city subsidy to help revamp the 53rd Street corridor. In 2010, the city approved $20 million in tax increment financing funds to help finance an office tower at 53rd Street and South Lake Park Avenue. The university, which also owns that land, and LA Fitness are the anchor tenants of the tower now under construction. The developer, Harper Court Partners, hopes to bring 10 to 15 shops to the street-level space.

As Hyde Park's largest landowner, U. of C. has a vested interest in improving its amenities -- not only for students and faculty, but also to draw newcomers to the area between East 55th and 49th streets.

The university also has purchased a number of buildings around the hotel and office towers, including the former Borders building where clothing chain Akira will open a flagship store in the fall. The U. of C. also owns the building where the New 400 Theaters will open in November, and the building adjacent to it, where a Five Guys Burgers and Fries set up shop in September. Across the street the university renovated a building where a Clarke's restaurant opened in February.

Another former County Club Hills official indicted over grant tied to Regal Theater

Another former suburban top law enforcement official has been indicted in an ongoing investigation of alleged fraud over a $1.25 million state job-training grant.

A federal grand jury indicted Ronald Evans Jr. today, accusing the former inspector general of Country Club Hills of working with his wife – then the south suburb’s police chief – to use grant money to pay the mortgage on a historic Chicago theater.

The money was supposed to be used to help dozens of minorities or women train for jobs in the building trades.

Former Police Chief Regina Evans was indicted in April. The state has been trying to get most of the grant money back since late 2009, not long after the check was cut to Regina Evans’ non-profit, We Are Our Brothers Keeper.

An attorney for both Regina Evans and Ronald Evans said the couple is innocent of the charges, which include mail fraud and money laundering.

“We are going to contest the charges,” said attorney Beau Brindley.

Regina Evans, 49, previously pleaded not guilty. The ex-Chicago cop resigned her Country Club Hills post last summer. The suburb’s mayor has commended her work and said her grant problems have nothing to do with the village.

Ronald Evans Jr., 45, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. His inspector general post was axed by opposition alderman last summer.

Both are charged with one count of mail fraud and two counts of money laundering.

Regina Evans won the state grant with the backing of two state lawmakers.

The money for job training dovetailed with efforts to rehab the New Regal Theater, an iconic 1920s movie palace on Chicago’s South Side that Regina Evans planned to turn around.

Yet, when the state money came through, the theater was in foreclosure.

The Tribune detailed last year that Evans stayed on as Country Club Hills police chief for at least a year as state officials demanded the grant money back.

Metra loses 800 thou can you imagine how much more they would have lost if they didn't let armed security officer's on the train

The NATO summit at McCormick Place cost Metra $800,000 in lost revenue from customers who stayed away and extra security expenses like bomb-sniffing dogs, the commuter railroad agency said Wednesday.
Some Metra board members said they were surprised the costs weren't higher, based on the number of cautionary measures imposed by theU.S. Secret Service, which coordinated security for last month's meeting of world leaders.
"To be honest, I thought it might be three or four times as much as that figure," board member Jack Schaffer said, adding he was glad only one of Metra's 11 lines had to be shut down for any period of time.
The South Shore Line, serving northwest Indiana, also expects a loss of about $100,000, General Manager Gerald Hanas has told officials of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District.
Metra's chief financial officer, Thomas Farmer, is expected to present the NATO costs to Metra's board members at a meeting Friday.
"We serve a great city, and occasionally we have to pay the bill," Schaffer said.
Board member Mike McCoy said he also thought the loss in fares from riders who stayed away would be higher — perhaps in the half-million-dollar range. Also adding to the costs were the Secret Service's "ever-changing" security requests, he said.
"I don't think we had the option to say no," McCoy said.
According to Metra, it lost $400,000 in passenger revenue related to the May 20 and 21 summit.
Metra also racked up about $600,000 in additional operating expenses. That amount includes $100,000 for operations, $200,000 in additional costs for Metra police and $300,000 for hiring outside security firms.
Metra expects the federal government to reimburse it about $200,000.
Most Metra Electric District and South Shore trains were allowed to run under McCormick Place, but many stations on the lines were closed, and Monday afternoon trains were canceled.
Numbers weren't yet available, but Metra said ridership was half the normal levels on Friday and Monday, May 18 and 21, as workers took the days off or worked from home.
Ridership was also reportedly low Saturday and Sunday, with visitors to downtown staying home.
Metra beefed up personnel at stations and platforms for days in advance of the summit and hired private security firms to help. The agency also asked suburban police departments to assist at outlying stations.
Dogs patrolled trains, and police screened passengers and searched bags at Union, Millennium and LaSalle Street stations and the Ogilvie Transportation Center.

Pregnant black lady needs to get a job instead of getting tax dollars

Tiffany Rent climbs into a van outside the 1st Municipal District court building Wednesday.  Rent, who is 8 months pregnant, said a police officer shot her with a stun gun. Police say Rent tried to drive away while the officer was writing her a ticket.Tiffany Rent stood hunched over in pain outside a Far South Side courthouse Wednesday, tears streaming down her face as she worried about whether her unborn son had been harmed when a Chicago police officer shocked her with a stun gun the previous night.

Rent, who is eight months pregnant, said the officer knew she was expecting and accused him of overreacting during a dispute that began over a parking violation.

"I didn't hit anybody," Rent said. "I didn't do anything."

But police say Rent, 30, swore at the officer and tried to take off in her SUV when he said he was going to arrest her.

The incident occurred late Tuesday when Rent parked in a handicapped spot at a Walgreens in the 10300 block of South Michigan Avenue while her fiance, Joseph Hobbs, went inside to buy a battery for his car's key chain remote, police and Hobbs said.

A police officer wrote a parking ticket, but Rent tore it up and threw it at him, according to a police report. The officer got out of his car to write her a ticket for littering and asked her for identification, the report said.

"I ain't giving you (Shit Bitch)," the report quoted Rent as saying.

As Rent got back into her SUV, the officer warned that he would use his stun gun if she drove away. When Rent "put her right hand on the gear shifter in an attempt to put the car in gear and leave the scene," the officer fired the weapon, the police report said.

Hobbs, the father of Rent's unborn son, was arrested when he tried to intervene, police said. He said he suffered a dislocated elbow during the arrest.

Rent was released after treatment at two separate hospitals. She and Hobbs were charged with misdemeanor offenses.

Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy declined to discuss details of the incident but said police are generally authorized to use a Taser to prevent an escape or overcome an assault. The Independent Police Review Authority is investigating.

But whats not stated is that the doctor's at the hospital stated her baby is ok. This bitch just wants to sit pretty the rest of her Lazy life off of the tax payers bet she is on link and gets medical at Cook County Hospital.

protester tosses frying pan at officer

Twelve protesters were arrested after a scuffle with police on Michigan Avenue at Ohio Street that left five officers injured, including one hit in the head with a frying pan, police said.

Gary C. Wagaman, a 30-year-old Michigan resident, tossed the pan at a police line and hit an officer assigned to a bike unit Wednesday evening, officials said. The officer was wearing a helmet, police said.

The incident touched off a skirmish that led to the other 11 arrests as others in the group tried to stop police from getting to Wagaman. The 11, ranging in age from 18 to 38, face a variety of misdemeanors related to the protest.

The protesters had been using pots and pans to make noise during a march up the Mag Mile, police said. Those arrested were part of a larger group marching in support of students in Canada who have been demonstrating against issues including higher tuition fees, according to Leon Andersen, a member of Occupy Chicago who said he was part of the march but not among those arrested.

Protesters began marching on the 500 block of South State Street around 5 p.m. and then headed to Michigan Avenue toward Canada’s consulate office, Andersen said.

Many of the protesters were associated with the Occupy Chicago movement, but some were members of other activists groups as well, said Rachael Perrotta, a member of Occupy Chicago’s press committee.

Wagaman was charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer and is expected to appear in court today.
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