Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 08, 2010

Champaign Police Seek Info on Hit and Run Accident

Champaign Police are looking for a dark green SUV driven by a bearded white male in his 40s, following a hit and run accident in the 500 block of Alabama on the city's north side Thursday afternoon.

According to a police department news release, witnesses report seeing the vehicle strike a six year old girl and flee the scene at around 4 PM.afternoon. The vehicle was last seen heading south on Harris Avenue. The child was taken to Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana.

The vehicle is described as possibly being a GMC Yukon or Ford Explorer model, with lumber extending from the rear driver's side window.

The driver is described as a white male in his 40's, with a full beard and dark hair wearing a blue t-shirt and blue jeans.

Anyone with information about this accident is asked to call Champaign Police at 217-351-4545.

Anonymous tips can be sent to Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS, through their website, or by texting Tip397 plus the information to CRIME (274637).


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 08, 2010

Prosecution Testimony Continues in Blagojevich Trial, Could Wrap Up on Tuesday

Federal prosecutors say the corruption trial of ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich is moving forward faster than expected and there is a good chance they will rest their case on Tuesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar made the announcement in court Thursday after Judge James Zagel sent the jury home for the weekend.

Blagojevich's attorneys asked if they could be given more time to prepare given that the prosecution finished sooner than expected. Zagel said he wasn't inclined to grant that but would entertain the idea next week. He said at the earliest they would launch their case on Wednesday.

Earlier during trial proceedings on Thursday, jurors heard an FBI wiretap tape in which Rod Blagojevich told a political pollster on an FBI wiretap tape that naming U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to the Senate seat Barack Obama was leaving would yield "tangible political support.'' Blagojevich referred to "specific amounts and everything,'' and adds "there is some of it up front.''

Jackson has been accused of no wrongdoing in the case. But prosecutors say there is evidence that his supporters spoke about raising a large sum for Blagojevich if he would name the congressman to the Senate.

Also on a wiretap tape, Blagojevich was heard cursing everyone from the president to reporters. The target of his fury was the people of Illinois.

In a phone conversation with an aide, Blagojevich talked about legislative successes. Later he cited poll numbers that show his support at all-time lows.

Sounding increasingly angry, he directed his ire at his constituents, saying that, "Only 13 percent of you all think I'm doing a good job.'' He then cursed as he denounces the public as a whole.

Also on Thursday, former Deputy Governor Robert Greenlee testified that Blagojevich hid in the bathroom or left the office early to avoid discussing complex issues.

Greenlee testified that former key aide John Filan had to chase Blagojevich to discuss important state matters.

Greenlee testified that he had to dine with the Blagojevich family at a bowling alley to get the governor to focus on legislation.

He said he was skeptical when Blagojevich spoke of his hopes of getting a job in Washington but kept quiet because Blagojevich could be argumentative if he didn't like what he heard.

Blagojevich has pleaded not guilty to charges including scheming to exchange President Barack Obama's former Senate seat for a high paying job, Cabinet post or massive campaign contribution.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Crime Suspect Found Dead in Decatur Public Pool

Maintenance workers found a body floating in a public swimming pool in Decatur that is believed to be that of a suspect in a knife attack.

The Macon County Coroner's office says Tiheyon D. Freeman was found early Tuesday in the Fairview Park pool. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.

Decatur police say Freeman was a suspect in an attack early Monday that left one woman hospitalized after undergoing surgery to remove part of a knife from her head. A second victim was stabbed several times, but was treated and released from a local hospital.

Decatur Park District officials say the pool in which the body was found will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Union Official Testifies on Conversations with Blagojevich on Senate Choice

Testimony from a labor union official shows ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich angled for job offers and other help from supporters of President Barack Obama.

The SEIU's Tom Balanoff says in November 2008 he acted as a go-between between Blagojevich and members of Obama's inner circle.

In a secretly taped call played at the trial on Tuesday, Blagojevich talks to Balanoff about Senate candidates, including Obama friend Valerie Jarrett.

Then the governor wonders aloud if Obama donors would give millions to start a health care advocacy group Blagojevich could work for.

BLAGOJEVICH: Yeah and then we can help our new senator, Valerie Jarrett, go out and push that. BALANOFF: So let me...let move this idea and...let me put that flag up and see where it goes.

Balanoff testified Tuesday he never had any intention of looking into Blagojevich's idea.

On cross examination, Balanoff acknowledged Blagojevich never explicitly said he'd appoint Jarrett in exchange for personal benefits or favors.

Balanoff also testified that state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias told him in passing, "Maybe (Blagojevich will) appoint me."

When Balanoff told the governor this, he says Blagojevich responded with a expletives aimed at Giannoulias.

Giannoulias' current Senate campaign says his comment to Balanoff about being interested in the seat was made "half jokingly."

Meantime, Balanoff says Blagojevich also dismissed suggestions that Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky get the appointment.

He says Blagojevich told him he wanted to pick an African American, so the governor said - quote - "If Jan could show me she had any ancestors who came over on a slave ship, she'd be fine."

A statement from Schakowsky says the comment "demonstrates Blagojevich's cynical attitude toward the African-American community.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 29, 2010

Former Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Lying About Torture

A federal jury has convicted former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge of perjury and obstruction of justice charges of lying about the torture of suspects.

Jurors delivered their verdict Monday. Burge now faces up to 45 years in prison.

Burge was accused of lying in a civil suit when he said he'd never seen or participated in the physical abuse of suspects in order to get confessions.

The decorated former lieutenant had testified in his own defense, pitting his word against that of five men who claimed Burge and his officers shocked, suffocated and beat them in the 1970s and 1980s.

Burge was fired from the police department in 1993 over the alleged mistreatment of a suspect. He never was criminally charged in the case.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 17, 2010

Former Blagojevich Donor Testifies at Corruption Trial

There's no action Friday in the corruption trial of ex-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Testimony this week concluded on Thursday with the jury hearing from a former Blagojevich donor.who scored a job leading a state agency.

Ali Ata says in 2002 and 2003, he twice donated $25,000 to Blagojevich's campaign...each time having conversations with the governor that included vague talk of a state job.

With support from Blagojevich and his now-convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko, Ata was appointed executive director of the newly-created Illinois Finance Authority.

The ex-governor's attorney, Sam Adam, Junior, asked Ata several times whether Blagojevich ever told him he needed to contribute to get the state job.

Ata repeatedly said no.

That continued line of questioning clearly frustrated Judge James Zagel.

The judge told Adam that if he didn't think the jury understood that argument by now, "then you should just give up all hope".

Zagel made the remark in front of jurors - some of whom laughed.

Ata returns to the stand on Monday when trial resumes.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 16, 2010

Blago Trial to Feature More Testimony of Fundraiser Cari on Thursday

Prosecutors in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will continue to question Joseph Cari Thursday morning. Cari is a former Democratic big-wig who previously pleaded guilty to attempted extortion.

Cari managed fund-raising during Vice President Al Gore's presidential campaign in 2000.

So - Cari testified Wednesday - when he found himself on a private plane headed to New York with Blagojevich back in 2003, the governor asked him about setting up a national fundraising operation.

Cari says, on the flight, Blagojevich told him that, as governor, he could raise big bucks by giving out state contracts, and hitting up those businesses for donations.

Cari told the same story two years ago during the corruption trial of Blagojevich fundraiser Tony Rezko.

On Thursday, Cari will likely detail the extortion attempt he's pleaded guilty to involving a state pension board.

Prosecutors say that was part of a broad conspiracy Governor Blagojevich took part in to enrich his campaign, himself and others.

Cari is cooperating with the government in exchange for a lighter prison sentence for himself.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 10, 2010

Testimony in Blagojevich Trial Continues; Wife May Be Asked to Leave at Certain Points

Prosecutors say they'll ask that the wife of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich leave the courtroom at her husband's corruption trial when testimony about her comes up.

The often stone-faced Patti Blagojevich has sat in the courtroom since the trial began. She's arrived each day with her husband, often holding hands as they enter the Chicago courthouse.

But according to procedures established earlier, she's supposed to leave when certain testimony arises.

She's in the courtroom Thursday as the former governor's first chief of staff, Alonzo Monk, testifies for a second day.

Judge James Zagel says he'll rule on whether she'll have to step outside right before the testimony that involves her. A defense attorney for Blagojevich has said she'll testify in the trial.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 08, 2010

Blagojevich Trial Begins with Jury Seated

The judge in the corruption trial of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has seated a jury.

Judge James B. Zagel named 18 jurors -- a panel of 12 and six alternates. The judge postponed an immediate decision on a request by Blagojevich's attorneys to dismiss fraud and racketeering charges against him. The former governor has pleaded not guilty to profiting from his power by trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama's former Senate seat. Opening statements are now expected to begin.

The ex-governor appeared upbeat earlier as he made his way through the courthouse security and addressed reporters in the lobby.

Interest in the trial was high. The main courtroom in downtown Chicago and another overflow courtroom with audio feeds from the trial were filled to capacity.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - June 05, 2010

Truck Driver Who Caused Fatal I-57 Crash To Be Ticketed

A Louisiana truck driver will be ticketed for reckless driving and two other violations for causing the Memorial Day crash on Interstate 57 near Mattoon that killed three people and left 13 others injured.

55-year old Everett Van Duzee of New Liberia, Louisiana was also ticketed for failure to reduce speed to avoid a crash, and given a log book violation for a discrepancy in the amount of hours he'd driven. In their report on the crash released Friday night, Illinois State Police say traffic was merging to one lane due to construction that afternoon, and that Duzee had 'became distracted and took his eyes off the roadway.' He hit three vehicles, and caused five more to crash. Three women from Mississippi died - 61 year old Sheila Douglas of Batesville, 68 year old Doris Hamblin-Mayo of Sarah, Miss. and 80-year old Juanita Hall, also of Sarah. Two injured victims remained hospitalized.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

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