Illinois Public Media News
A convicted influence peddler remains on track to be sentenced weeks after his one-time benefactor, former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Prosecutors said at a status hearing Tuesday that they want to stick with an Oct. 21 sentencing date for Tony Rezko.
The government has portrayed Rezko as the ultimate insider who pulled strings in Blagojevich's administration.
A jury convicted Rezko in 2008 of squeezing kickbacks from businessmen eager to land state contracts.
The 56-year-old appeared at Tuesday's hearing in jail clothes and chains binding his ankles. He smiled weakly and waived at relatives on courtroom benches.
Jurors convicted Blagojevich for corruption in June. His sentencing date is Oct. 6.
Rezko's sentencing was repeatedly delayed to leave the possibility he could testify at Blagojevich's trial. But the government never called him.
A new online database lets people to see who has outstanding warrants in Cook County.
Sheriff Tom Dart said there are about 44,000 people in Cook County who have outstanding warrants. The new online database, he hopes, will help the office get some tips on the whereabouts of those people.
"This has a way of really flushing out the system, as well, and really doing a lot of very positive things because there's nothing good with having this many warrants in the system," Dart told reporters Friday.
Dart said about a third of the warrants outstanding are for traffic offenses and about 13,000 are for drug or theft charges.
The majority are not wanted for violent crimes, Dart said.
"There is a hope that there will be quite a few people who'll go to this website just, frankly, to check, maybe, theirself (sic) out," he said.
The sheriff said he's putting together a 500 most wanted list for the website, as well.
Attorneys for torture victims of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge are trying to put some political pressure on the Illinois Supreme Court.
Their attorneys are planning to file a brief Wednesday morning in the case of Stanley Wrice. Former Illinois U.S. Sen. Adlai Stevenson and former Illinois Gov. Jim Thompson are joining congressmen, aldermen and prominent attorneys in signing the document that asks the Supreme Court to order a review of the Wrice case, and the cases of 14 other alleged torture victims who are still in prison.
Wrice says in 1982 he was beaten by police under former commander Jon Burge until he confessed to a brutal rape. He raised the issue in court in 1983 but the officers testified they didn't beat him and the courts ruled against Wrice.
But now there is a long string of evidence - including Burge's conviction - to show that torture did occur, giving Wrice's claims added weight they didn't have 30 years ago. Attorneys aren't asking for Wrice to be freed, but they do want all Burge torture victims to have new hearings in light of all the new evidence regarding police torture.
(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
A nine-year legal fight by a man sexually abused by a priest in the 1970s is over, now that a southern Illinois diocese and its insurer have handed over $6.3 million to resolve a jury award in the man's favor.
Attorneys for the Diocese of Belleville turned over the checks during a hearing Wednesday in St. Clair County, three years after James Wisniewski of Champaign won the $5 million jury award. The additional $1.33 million includes interest since that verdict.
Wisniewski sued in 2002, alleging that a former priest sexually abused him dozens of times for five years at St. Theresa's Parish in Salem. The lawsuit also claimed the diocese hid the one-time priest's suspected behavior and quietly shuffled him among parishes.
The diocese's attorneys declined comment.
Former University of Illinois basketball player Jereme Richmond faces battery and weapons charges.
The (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reports Richmond, of Waukegan, was arrested Monday after police say he shoved a 17-year-old girlfriend and threatened to shoot her outside her house. Police drove up as 19-year-old Richmond searched for something in a car while another man waited. Police found a gun in the car.
Richmond is charged with aggravated battery, aggravated unlawful use of weapons, domestic battery and other charges. Lake County court officials say he hasn't entered a plea and doesn't yet have an attorney.
Richmond was heavily recruited but spent one season at Illinois. He played sparingly and was benched for off-court issues before leaving for the NBA draft. He wasn't drafted.
(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)
A federal appeals court says two Americans who worked for an Iraqi contracting firm can move forward with a lawsuit that accuses former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of being responsible for U.S. forces allegedly torturing them.
The ruling Monday from the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejects arguments that Rumsfeld should be immune from such lawsuits for work performed as a Cabinet secretary.
Chicagoan Donald Vance and his colleague Nathan Ertel claim they were each tortured in 2006 after blowing the whistle on alleged illegal activities by the contracting company that employed them. Vance, a Navy veteran, claims he and Ertel were forcibly detained for weeks at Camp Cropper, a U.S. Army security detention facility in Baghdad, without being charged with any crime or being allowed to speak with an attorney.
Both men say they were subjected to sleep deprivation, blasting music, hunger and various threats during their incarceration. The lawsuit describes such practices as torture and alleges Rumsfeld personally took part in approving the methods for use by the military in Iraq.
Their attorney, Mike Kanovitz, welcomed the ruling, saying the court faced a choice between "protecting the most fundamental rights of American citizens in the difficult context of a war or leaving those rights solely in the hands of politicians and the military."
"It was not an easy choice for the Court to make, but it was the brave and right choice," Kanovitz said in a written statement.
An attorney for Rumsfeld blasted the ruling.
"Having judges second-guess the decisions made by the armed forces halfway around the world is no way to wage a war," David Rivkin, Jr., said in a written statement. "It saps the effectiveness of the military, puts American soldiers at risk, and shackles federal officials who have a constitutional duty to protect America."
A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice, which represents Rumsfeld in the case, declined comment on the ruling.
But Rivkin said he believes the decision will eventually be overturned.
(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Authorities say two women found dead early Friday in a rural central Illinois home were a mother and daughter.
Macon County Sheriff Thomas P. Schneider says 57-year-old Cindanett Eaton and 23-year-old Lindsey Eaton were found in their rural Harristown home after a 911 call about 12:45 a.m. Friday. The community is just west of Decatur.
Another woman whom Schneider says is also Cindanett Eaton's daughter is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. The sheriff wouldn't identify her or discuss the nature of the women's injuries.
Schneider said 27-year-old Timothy Giles of Centralia has been arrested. Giles is being held on $2 million bond and has not appeared in court but his warrant lists murder, attempted murder, aggravated battery, domestic battery and home invasion charges.
Giles does not yet have an attorney.
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation increasing penalties for convicted felons who are found carrying guns.
Under the law, signed Tuesday, felons convicted of unlawful use or possession of a weapon face two to 10 years behind bars.
Additional violations by felons caught with guns while on parole or supervised release will carry a sentence of three to 14 years in prison.
The measure was sponsored by Sen. Tony Munoz of Chicago and Rep. Michael Zalewski of Summit, both Democrats, in response to the shooting death of Chicago Police Officer Thomas Wortham. He was killed outside his home during an attempted robbery last year. Suspects in his death had previous gun charge convictions.
In signing the bill, Quinn said the law will ensure safer neighborhoods for families across Illinois.
A nationwide effort to raise awareness about crime and drug prevention kicks off Tuesday night in Champaign.
The annual 'National Night Out' typically lasts for a day, but this year it is being broken up into more than a dozen events throughout the month.
"Historically it's just something that's happened in Champaign, and Urbana was doing their thing, and Savoy, and so it was just a real disjointed effort," Champaign Neighborhood Coordinator John Ruffin said. "Now it's a joint effort to really focus on making sure that Champaign remains a safe and healthy community."
For the first time, workshops led by the Champaign and Urbana Police Departments and the Champaign Fire Department will be offered. Chelsea Angelo, a safety education coordinator with the city of Urbana, said she hopes this expanded role by law enforcement officials helps bridge the gap between neighborhoods and police officers.
"We're always looking for ways to bring our officers into contact with the citizens that not involving strictly enforcement," Angelo said. "We don't want them to only see our officers when there is an emergency situation going on."
The 'National Night Out' kicks off Tuesday at 6pm at the Champaign City Hall. More information about other activities planned can be found on the city of Champaign's website.
A watered-down version of what began as a panhandling ordinance has been approved by the Urbana City Council.
The measure that passed on a 5-to-1 vote Monday night instead bans what's called 'aggressive solicitation,' or those who ask for money in a threatening or intimidating matter. The new ordinance removed portions that banned any requests for donations in the Philo Road Business District.
Alderwoman Diane Marlin said those who aggressively beg in that area have brought one unintended consequence.
"Basically, people who have been approached, or aggressively solicited or felt threatened, their reaction is to just stop patronizing businesses where this occured," she said. "That's a survival tactic."
The new measure still prohibits solicitation near an ATM or bank. Public opponents, including resident Ron Custer, argue that laws already on the books in Urbana should handle what the council is trying to address. Custer is one of several opponents who has come out in the last few weeks to speak out about the issue.
"I mean, when we hear anecdotes of somebody being terrorized in their car, and somebody else saying 'oh this happens routinely,'" Custer said. "Doesn't that sound like something that could have been responded to effectively by now?"
Opponents also say the original ordinance unfairly targeted poor people, and didn't distinguish from those who intimidated from those who casually ask for money.
One change to the new ordinance allows violators to perform community service as an alternative to paying a fine. That's an idea welcomed by Alderman Eric Jakobsson.
"That certainly will not dilute what we're hoping to acheive with this, whether we achieve it or not," Jakobsson said. "It definitely moves it in a direction of actually even being more than a deterrent, but being a positive outreach, to the extent that that's possible."
City council members will do an 18-month review in Jan. 2013. Alderwoman Heather Stevenson voted down the measure, saying the issue weighs heavily on civil liberties. She suggested that the public as well as police officers should learn more about existing laws.
Mayor Laurel Prussing and Alderman Dennis Roberts did not attend Monday's council meeting.
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