Illinois Public Media News
Gov. Pat Quinn has pardoned 11 people and ordered that their criminal records be expunged.
He says it's part of an effort to clear what he calls a "shameful'' backlog of almost 2,500 clemency requests that built up under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Crimes committed by those who were pardoned include drug possession, aggravated battery and burglary.
Quinn says this is just the first in a series of clemency petitions he will act on with the goal of drastically reducing the backlog by the end of the year.
He says each person he pardoned underwent a criminal background check.
A car chase by authorities in two area counties Monday night led to the fatal shooting of a suspect and an investigation by Illinois State Police.
Champaign and Douglas County deputies chased the man after a Villa Grove police officer says he was assaulted in the town after investigating a suspicious vehicle. All officers followed the man out of the community to Interstate 74 to the Oakwood area. There, police stopped the vehicle using 'stop sticks' just before 11 last night. Officers say the man then got out of his car holding a knife and a machete, and were unable to subdue him with tasers. After the man initially fled on foot, deputies say he approached them with both weapons, and officers multiple shots at him in self defense. The suspect died at the scene, and an autopsy is planned for today. Vermilion County Coroner Peggy Johnson identifies him as 23-year old Ocuwatofunmi Kaiyewu of Missouri City, Texas.
Other officers at the scene were from the Vermilion County Sheriff's Office and University of Illinois Police. Three officers, Champaign County Sheriff Dan Walsh, Vermilion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn, and U of I Chief Barbara O'Connor, were placed on paid administrative leave, which the departments say is normal procedure.
The 75-page indictment handed down Thursday against former Governor Rod Blagojevich and five co-defendants made fascinating reading for a University of Illinois law professor. Andrew Leipold is an expert on criminal law and the federal judicial process. He told AM 580's Jim Meadows that the indictment alleges a conspiracy to defraud people and extort money --- dating back to the very start of the Blagojevich administration.
A sweeping federal indictment charges former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich with scheming to auction off President Barack Obama's U.S. Senate set, pressuring a congressman for campaign money and lying to FBI agents.
The 19-count indictment against Blagojevich and others also alleges billions of dollars in state pension bonds were refinanced in exchange for the promise of a massive kickback, among other crimes.
Others indicted included the former governor's brother Robert Blagojevich, Springfield millionaire William Cellini and the governor's onetime chief fundraiser Christopher G. Kelly.
Blagojevich's former chief of staff John Harris also faces a charge in the indictment. Prosecutors say he's cooperating.
US Senator Dick Durbin's reaction to Blagojevich's indictment was short - he says he hopes the governor doesn't see the indictment as a green light for another publicity tour. He says Blagojevich deserves his day in court but the people of Illinois deserve a break. 15th District Congressman Tim Johnson of Urbana says those under indictment brought shame to the state and nation, and their prosecution is overdue.
Federal prosecutors have worked for weeks to produce an indictment accusing ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich of committing an extraordinary "white-collar crime spree'' in the heart of Illinois government. Their handiwork could be seen as early as today.
U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald has until Tuesday to get an indictment that would replace a complaint charging the former governor.
Blagojevich is accused of plotting to trade or sell President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat and a host of other crimes.
Today is believed to be the last day the grand jury meets before the deadline, although the government never announces the time and place of grand jury meetings.
Fitzgerald could ask Chief Judge James F. Holderman of U.S. District Court for another deadline extension.
Authorities say bodies matching the descriptions of two small boys missing from a central Illinois town and their father have been found.
An Amber Alert was canceled for 9-year-old Duncan Connolly and his 7-year-old brother Jack, who both lived in LeRoy in McLean County. Authorities have said they went missing March 8 after their father allegedly failed to return them to their mother after a custody visit.
Authorities say the children's' bodies were found Sunday inside a car in remote Putnam County.
The car was registered to Michael Connolly, who authorities described as a fugitive in a child abduction case. The body of a man matching his description was found about 60 feet from the car on Sunday.
Police didn't release further details pending an afternoon news conference. Autopsies have been scheduled.
Gov. Pat Quinn is defending his pick to lead the Illinois State Police, saying Jonathon Monken is the right man to lead the agency in the wake of a scathing audit about the agency's performance.
Monken has taken over the agency, but has yet to be confirmed by the state Senate. Some key lawmakers say he lacks the necessary experience.
The 29-year-old Monken is a decorated military veteran and Quinn says that experience makes him qualified for the post.
Quinn is defending Monken's nomination for the post amid Thursday's release of an audit that found there was a huge backlog in testing crime evidence.
Quinn called Monken a strong leader and he dismisses suggestions that Monken isn't qualified for the post.
The Illinois Department of Corrections has returned 44 maximum-security inmates who were transferred out of Pontiac Correctional Center to the prison.
Pontiac prison was targeted for closing by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who claimed prisoners could be housed more cheaply at Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois. Gov. Pat Quinn announced earlier this month the facility will remain open.
Department of Corrections spokesman Derek Schnapp said the maximum-security inmates were transferred Tuesday from Menard Correctional Center. The transfer brings the total population of Pontiac prison to 1,105. Schnapp didn't say why the transfers took place.
Pontiac prison was set to close on Dec. 31, 2008, but a lawsuit filed by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 31, which represents some prison workers, halted the process.
Governors can issue pardons but they can't automatically clear a convict's criminal record, according to a new Illinois Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling involves pardons saying two men were innocent and could have their convictions expunged, or officially wiped away.
One pardon went to Stanley Howard, who was convicted of murder based on a confession that may have been obtained through torture. The other went to Dana Holland, who was convicted of rape but was later cleared by DNA evidence.
When they took steps to expunge their records, the courts said no.
The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that despite the governor's pardons, the courts ultimately decide whether to expunge convictions.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz says a change in philosophy has allowed some of those who go through the justice system to take responsibility for what they've done, recover and get on with their lives. But challenger Janie Miller-Jones disagrees with that assessment and says the office needs to do more to prevent crime to begin with. AM 580's Jeff Bossert previews the race for State's Attorney.
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