Illinois Public Media News

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 08, 2011

Chicago Court Green-Lights Suit Against Donald Rumsfeld

(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)

Tags: crime, people

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 05, 2011

Mother and Daughter Killed in Central Ill. Home

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.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 03, 2011

Quinn Signs Law Increasing Gun Violence Penalties

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.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 02, 2011

National Night Out’ Expands in Champaign County

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.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - August 02, 2011

Urbana Council Passes Measure Targeting ‘Aggressive’ Solicitation

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.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 01, 2011

Quinn Adviser Fined by Executive Ethics Commission

A senior adviser to Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has been fined $500 for sending a political email from a state telephone.

The Executive Ethics Commission released a ruling on Jerry Stermer on Monday.

Stermer was the Democratic governor's chief of staff in January 2010 when he reported that he'd sent the questionable emails the previous month.

The commission determined one email from his state phone was to campaign staffers. The other two were sent from a private computer on a Sunday.

The commission noted Stermer held a high position in government and should be an example, but that he admitted and self-reported the violations.

Stermer resigned in August 2010 but was rehired in December as a senior adviser.

Quinn's office hasn't immediately responded to a request for comment.

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 01, 2011

Asset Sales Raise $7 Million for Victims of Decatur Ponzi Scheme

Sales of homes, jewelry and other assets that once belonged to a former Decatur resident convicted of investment fraud have raised more than $7 million. But that's less than a third of the money William Huber was convicted of stealing.

The (Decatur) Herald & Review reports (http://bit.ly/pVqG6C) that court documents indicate most of Huber's former assets have been found and sold.

That includes homes in Florida and California as well as cars and clothes. One of the more recent sales was $39,000 worth of jewelry.

Huber was sentenced to 20 years in prison in December after he pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that stole $23 million from investors.

Huber is now 62 and in prison in California. He's appealing his sentence claiming it's too long.


AP - Illinois Public Media News - August 01, 2011

Judge Sets Blagojevich Sentencing Date

A federal judge has set an Oct. 6 sentencing date for ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Judge James Zagel set the date during a status hearing Monday. Blagojevich didn't attend the hearing.

Legal observers say Zagel is likely to sentence Blagojevich to about 10 years for a lone conviction at his first trial and convictions on 17 corruption counts at his retrial. The retrial convictions in June included trying to sell or trade President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat.

Blagojevich was last in court in July to sign papers putting up his home and another property as collateral for a $450,000 bond that lets him remain free while awaiting sentencing. The 54-year-old did appear last month to sign papers putting up his home and another property as collateral for a $450,000 bond that lets him remain free while awaiting sentencing.

(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)


AP - Illinois Public Media News - July 28, 2011

Caterpillar to Pay $2.55 M for Air Act Violations

The U.S. Department of Justice says Caterpillar Inc. has agreed to pay $2.55 million to settle allegations that it violated the U.S. Clean Air Act.

The department said Thursday that it believed the Peoria-based heavy equipment-maker had shipped more than 590,000 engines that lacked proper emissions controls. The engines were for vehicles made for highway travel and for other purposes.

Engines lacking such controls can emit excess nitrogen oxides and other pollutants that can harm human health.

As part of a consent decree signed with the department, Caterpillar also must continue recalling the engines to make repairs.

Caterpillar spokeswoman Bridget Young says the company denies any wrongdoing and will comply with the decree.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - July 27, 2011

Savoy Man Who Killed Brother Gets 35-Year Prison Sentence

A 35-year prison sentence awaits a Savoy man who shot and killed his brother inside Tolono's only grocery store.

Forty-three year old Brian Maggio has already been jailed for slightly over a year - he will be required to serve 100 percent of the murder sentence for the death of his 32 year old brother Mark.

Mark Maggio was killed during an argument inside the Tolono IGA, which never reopened after the shooting.

Brian Maggio owned that store while his younger brother owned the IGA in Arcola, but the two had a history of financial disputes.

Brian Maggio pleaded guilty to the murder last month - state's attorney Julia Rietz says while Maggio's attorney had asked for a 20 year sentence, the judge decided to order the maximum allowed under the plea agreement.

Categories: Criminal Justice
Tags: crime

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