January 14, 2013

RTA Alleges United, American Airlines Using 'Sham' Office

The Regional Transportation Authority alleges two major airlines are running "sham" business operations to get out of paying higher taxes on jet fuel.

According to RTA, United Airlines and American Airlines are claiming they purchase their jet fuel from offices in Sycamore, Ill. RTA believes they are actually doing business out of their Chicago headquarters.

RTA contends the practice has deprived Chicago and Cook County taxpayers of nearly $300 million over the last seven years.

The RTA filed a suit against United, while deferring formal action against American Airlines, since the company is currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

RTA Chief of Staff Jordan Matyas said the Sycamore office is sparse with empty tables and no computers. Still, his organization estimates a million gallons of jet fuel are purchased each day.

“We need to stop this," Matyas said. "The RTA has a fiduciary duty to bring in as much money for the mass transit in Chicago, and we can’t allow any company to dodge the proper sales tax. So I would say to the city of Sycamore...it is time that it stopped.”

The RTA filed the suit against Chicago-based United, while deferring formal action against American Airlines, since the company is currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

This isn't the first time the RTA has sued over sales tax avoidance. In 2011, RTA filed similar lawsuits against far south suburban Kankakee and Channahon, which the company alleges has similar deals with retailers and other airlines.

RTA has differed formal action against American Airlines, as the company is currently involved in bankruptcy proceedings. The airline wouldn't comment, only releasing this statement: "American does not comment on pending litigation but what it is doing in Illinois is permitted under Illinois law."

In a statement, United officials deny any wrongdoing.

"We are still reviewing the complaint, but we believe that any such suit is without merit. In fact, the operation of our fuel subsidiary in Sycamore has been examined by tax authorities in the past and has been determined to comply with all applicable laws," according to the statement released by United. "We will vigorously defend ourselves against these claims."

Meanwhile, the city of Sycamore said the city will defend its position. In a news release issued Monday afternoon, the city said the agreement with United Aviation has been reviewed by tax authorities in the past and determined to comply with state law.


January 14, 2013

Beason Murders Trial Moved to Peoria County

The trial of a central Illinois man accused of killing five members of a Beason family will be in Peoria County instead of Logan County.

A judge ruled Monday that 33-year-old Christopher Harris' trial should be moved.

Harris' attorney had argued that Harris couldn't get a fair trial in Logan County because of news coverage and local sympathies to the slain family.

Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children were found beaten to death in their Beason home in September 2009. 

Harris and his younger brother have pleaded not guilty to murder charges and the attempted murder of child who survived.

Christopher Harris' trial is set for April.


January 14, 2013

St. Joseph Man Arrested After Alleged School Threat

A St. Joseph man is in custody after allegedly making threats against the local high school over the weekend.

St. Joseph-Ogden High School Superintendent Jim Acklin says 34-year old Uriah Fosdick allegedly made statements in front of a sheriff’s deputy, indicating he was threatening a shooting at a school.

Acklin says the key concern is that Fosdick lives literally blocks from the school.

“He’s a back door neighbor.” he said. “You could literally throw a rock from his yard, and toss it into our softball diamond.”

Fosdick was arrested by sheriff’s deputies Monday afternoon, and is in the Champaign County Jail on $750-thousand bond.

Acklin says there’s no reason to believe that anyone was involved with Fosdick and his alleged crime.  He says the school is literally on lockdown daily, with all outside doors locked and video cameras.

But he says school officials are always assessing safety standards and St. Joseph-Odgen’s crisis management plan.


January 12, 2013

Champaign Man Charged After Fatal Shooting

A Champaign man faces weapons charges after police say he fatally shot his girlfriend at a local motel early Friday morning.

Champaign Police say 20-year old Antonio Brown accidentally shot 20-year old Syndi Blackwell of Williamsport, Indiana at the Super 8 Motel on Marketview Drive about 3 a.m. Friday.

Officers say Brown mishandled the gun, causing it to discharge, and he took Blackwell to Carle Hospital, where she died just before 1 p.m.

Brown is in the county jail, charged with Aggravated Discharge of a Firearm and Unlawful Use of a Weapon by a Felon.


January 11, 2013

US Born Taliban Fighter Wins Prison Prayer Lawsuit


A federal judge has ruled that a convicted Taliban fighter should be allowed to pray daily in a group with other Muslim inmates at their high-security prison in Indiana.

U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson sided on Friday with John Walker Lindh, an American convicted of fighting alongside the Taliban.

The judge ruled that the prison was violating Lindh's and other Muslim inmates' religious freedom by banning them from engaging in daily ritual prayer.

Lindh is serving a 20-year sentence for aiding the Taliban during the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.

He sued the government after he was barred from praying with other inmates, which he said violated his religious rights.

Prison officials had argued that it would be dangerous, unaffordable and unfair to other inmates.


Illinois Rep. Derrick Smith
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
January 09, 2013

Indicted State Rep. Smith Back in Springfield

Illinois state lawmakers were sworn in Wednesday. Among them is a state representative who faces a trial later this year for allegedly taking a bribe.

Derrick Smith has had quite a journey to end up back where he started. The Chicago Democrat was arrested last year for allegedly taking a $7,000 bribe in exchange for office services.
After his arrest, Smith’s fellow House of Representatives kicked him out of office. And despite all that, he was elected to his old seat in November’s election.

Republican State Rep. Jim Durkin called it surreal that he took the same oath of office as the indicted Smith.

"He will have a very difficult time legislating and, quite frankly, I think that members of the legislature are going to be suspicious of him and some of them will be just downright offended that they’re serving with him," Durkin said.

Durkin said lawmakers can’t oust a sitting state representative twice for the same reason. He said he would not try to kick Smith out of office again unless the U.S. Attorney's office files a superceding indictment to Smith's pending charges.

"How he interacts with us will be important because, again, recognizing that he does have a constituency to represent, it'll be entirely up to him to proceed in a manner where he can continue to be a representative for his district," said State Rep. Will Davis, a Democrat.

Approached before the inauguration, Smith refused to answer questions about how he expects to work with lawmakers. He also wouldn't answer questions about his legislative priorities.

Two other state legislators sworn in Wednesday, State Sen. Donne Trotter and State Rep. LaShawn Ford, also face criminal charges. But those charges do not pertain to their official office duties.


January 07, 2013

Use of Illinois Ex-Governor's Picture Prompts Lawsuit

The wife of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has filed a lawsuit against a Chicago radio station for using her husband’s image in an advertising campaign.

Crain’s Chicago Business (http://bit.ly/TOWdSI) reports Patti Blagojevich is seeking $30,000 from Merlin Media LLC for advertising that features Rod Blagojevich’s picture on billboards promoting Chicago’s WIQI-FM.

The lawsuit contends Merlin “believed that the advertisements featuring Mr. Blagojevich would be fun and get people’s attention.” The advertising, which ran in May, was also on Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains.

Cincinnati-based Merlin Media has declined to talk about the lawsuit. 

In March, Blagojevich began serving a 14-year-old sentence for corruption, including charges he sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a job.


January 07, 2013

Use of Illinois Ex-Governor’s Picture Prompts Lawsuit

The wife of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has filed a lawsuit against a Chicago radio station for using her husband’s image in an advertising campaign.

Crain’s Chicago Business (http://bit.ly/TOWdSI) reports Patti Blagojevich is seeking $30,000 from Merlin Media LLC for advertising that features Rod Blagojevich’s picture on billboards promoting Chicago’s WIQI-FM.

The lawsuit contends Merlin “believed that the advertisements featuring Mr. Blagojevich would be fun and get people’s attention.” The advertising, which ran in May, was also on Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains.

Cincinnati-based Merlin Media has declined to talk about the lawsuit.

In March, Blagojevich began serving a 14-year-old sentence for corruption, including charges he sought to sell or trade President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat for campaign cash or a job.


October 25, 2012

University Enacts New Policies to Prevent Abuse

The University of Illinois has adopted new policies after the sexual abuse scandal at Penn State University.

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was sentenced this month for sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15 years.

In the wake of the scandal, a task force at the University of Illinois came up with a series of rules that all employees must follow, including mandatory sexual harassment training. Criminal background checks can also be performed on employees who have regular contact with minors.

Maureen Parks, the U of I’s associate vice president for human resources, said she hopes the new policies make the U of I safer.

“The situation at Penn State just really strengthened our resolve to say we need to take a comprehensive look at our program of protection and determine are there any holes, do we need to strengthen anything, do we need to change procedures, etc,” Parks said.

The U of I must also keep records of all events that involve minors, like sports camps. The policies will officially be rolled at next month’s board of trustees meeting.

Meanwhile, state law will also require all university employees report suspected cases of abuse and neglect.


October 14, 2012

One Hospitalized After Overnight Shooting in Champaign

Champaign Police are asking the public's help in identifying at least two men involved in a early morning shooting Sunday at a north side gas station.

Officers say just past 2:30 AM, they learned that a 22-year old male gunshot victim had been taken to Provena Covenant Medical Center.  His current condition is unknown. 

Officers responded to a call at the Mobile Super Pantry at 1503 North Neil Street after hearing reports of multiple gunshots heard at the business, and several cars leaving the area.

Preliminary reports of the incident stemmed from a physical altercation that took place inside the business.  Shortly after leaving, the victim was apparently approached and shot by a second male who was not involved in the initial confrontation.  

Police are currently conducting interviews in hopes of getting more information.  Anyone with more information is encouraged to contact Champaign Police at 351-4545 or Crimestoppers at 217-373-8477 (TIPS.)


Page 3 of 61 pages  < 1 2 3 4 5 > Last ›


WILL Highlights

Classical BTS logo

Classical:BTS

Stories behind the people working within the classical music discipline in central Illinois


The 21st

21st century radio for the 21st state. Weekdays at 11 am on WILL-AM 580.