Tag Archives: Cook County

Change in Cook County vacancy tax may help reduce commercial vacancies

President of the Small Business Advocacy Council (SBAC) Elliot Richardson joins Rob Johnson and Jane Clauss on the Steve Cochran Show to talk about their efforts to alter the vacancy tax policy in Cook County. They explore the potential benefits of this policy change, including a decrease in crime rates, the transformation of empty retail spaces into flourishing small businesses, and the positive impact it will have on Cook County taxpayers.

FOP President: “85% of Cook County residents have already made up their minds on Jason Van Dyke.”


Big John and Ramblin’ Ray are joined by Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police President  Kevin Graham, where they discuss Jason Van Dyke and how he speaks out for the first time since the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Plus the placement of his trial, since it has been delayed due to placement since residents in Cook County have already determined their verdict.

Lawsuit claims Cook County detainees were secretly monitored in holding cell bathrooms

A new class action lawsuit has accused Cook County sheriff’s deputies of spying on inmates while they used the bathroom in holding cells.

This class action lawsuit against the county and Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart involves tens of thousands of men and women who were detained in holding cells in every Cook County courthouse.


The lawsuit states “pretrial detainees retain an expectation of privacy in their naked bodies, genitals, and bodily functions.”

Attorney Tom Zimmerman said the cameras are monitored in real time by male and female sheriff’s police and kept for 30 days.

Chief policy officer for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, Cara Smith, released a statement saying:

“We vehemently deny the allegations that there are hidden or secret cameras focused on detainees’ private parts or the toilet areas of holding cells. Fixed cameras are present in the holding cells in courthouses as a critical tool to ensure the safety of staff, the safety of detainees and transparency of our operations.”

Smith also called the allegation outrageous. The complaint was filed in federal court on Wednesday.

Read more at WGN-TV.

Illinois State Representative, Scott Drury (D) 58th district which includes portions of Bannockburn, Deerfield, Glencoe, Highwood, Highland Park, Lake Bluff, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Northbrook and North Chicago.

The state finally has a budget and Rep. Drury voted in favor for the plan which includes an income tax increase for Illinois residents. Funding vital public services, paying it’s employees, and vendors.

Drury is hoping that he can be elected Governor, and believes he can accomplish something nobody else has been able to do, eliminating the $250 Billion liability for pension benefits for state employees.

Chris Kennedy & J.B. Pritzker (two other candidates running in the primary) have large amounts of financing to back their campaign, Drury thinks his message and experience can carry him to victory over the others.

John Dempsey updates us on the proposed Cook County Identification card, specifically designed to offer ID’s to residents who might not be eligible to get a State or Federally issued document.

Chicago Man Free After Arson and Murder Charges Vacated

Jennifer Keiper, WLS-AM 890 News

(CHICAGO) – Adam Gray was 14 years old when he was convicted of setting an apartment fire on Chicago’s Southwest Side that killed two elderly people. In 1993, he was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

“I had to make peace with the idea that I was going to die in prison for something that I didn’t do,” said Gray.

Gray said his confession was coerced and he gave it after being questioned for seven hours but it was something else that led to his prison release, earlier this week.

Cook County prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges against him saying fire science advancements raised too many questions about his conviction.

Gray’s lawyer, Terri Mascherin of Jenner & Block, spent recent years fighting his convictions based on the unreliability of the scientific testimony at his trial. “I think that this is a classic case of how the authorities can fall into tunnel vision. They had a case here, where they’re investigating a fire – which, it turns out, was probably an unfortunate accident,” said Mascherin.

Gray says he’s still having difficulty believing he’s a free man after spending more than half his life in prison.

Copyright 2017 WLS-AM News

People in CPD custody may have access to lawyers sooner

(CHICAGO) People held in custody by the Chicago Police may have access to a free lawyer well before they appear in front of a judge under an administrative order announced Tuesday by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Currently, most of those who are arrested do not have an attorney until they come to court for a bond hearing.

But under the order, defendants may be able to procure a lawyer while they are at the police station.

Signs with numbers for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office and the First Defense Legal Aid will be posted in the 22 police stations with lockup facilities, according to a news release issued by Evans’ office.

Assistant public defenders will be available to talk to the arrestees from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays, and volunteer attorneys with the First Defense Legal Aid will be available on weekends, holidays and all other hours.

Those arrested will still have to ask for an attorney, and not everyone is guaranteed an attorney because the program will be based on available staffing, the release said.

Cook County Public Defender Amy Campanelli, said in the news release that Evans’ order was a “huge step forward.”

State’s Attorney Kim Foxx also applauded Evans’ order, saying it ensures “that no one is denied their constitutional right to counsel.”

— Chicago Sun-Times

MLB: Cook County Sheriff tries to enter World Series using credentials

By Don Kleppin, WLS AM 890 News

(CHICAGO) Deputy Chief Mike Anton is under investigation by the Cook County Sheriff’s Department and the MLB, after baseball investigators say he used his police credentials to try and get a teenage relative into Game 5 of the World Series.

Sheriff’s Department Spokesperson Cara Smith told the ABC7 I-team this is NOT why officers are given access.

“They’re not given a credential to go watch the baseball game…they’re given it to assist with keeping the peace. The mere having that credential is not a problem. The concern is if it was…if a credential was provided to someone who wasn’t authorized to have it.”

Anton’s still on the job with his full salary of 120,000 dollars a year and hasn’t said anything publicly.

Sheriff’s officials said shortly after Game 5, Anton let his superiors know he’d tried to get into the game using police credentials and was turned away.

Rescue crews to resume search Monday after vehicle found in pond

A car was found in a pond after it drove off the road in south suburban Lynwood early Sunday afternoon. | NVP News


(CHICAGO) A car was found in a pond after it drove off the road in south suburban Lynwood early Sunday afternoon.

At 12:39 p.m., officers received a call about a vehicle in a pond with occupants inside, according to Cook County sheriff’s spokeswoman Sophia Ansari. It is unclear how many people were inside the vehicle.

The Lynwood Fire Department began a search early Sunday afternoon that was called off about 5 p.m., Ansari said. Rescue crews are expected to resume the search Monday morning.

The cause of the crash is under investigation, authorities said.

Rescue crews in Lynwood respond after a vehicle was found in a pond. | NVP News

County gun violence report calls for more cop collaboration

(CHICAGO) While crime does not respect municipal boundaries, police agencies in Cook County have no uniform way to compare their crime data or trace weapons used in crime, according to a report from a county task force on gun violence.

The wide-ranging report released Wednesday after 10 months of research and public hearings, offers a variety of policy suggestions and suggested tactics to reduce violence in the county, from endorsing “hot spot” patrols to increased funding for employment anti-violence programs — but it was not clear how many of the recommendations would take hold, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“We have a blueprint. We have to implement it,” Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin said Wednesday, after the board of commissioners formally entered the report into the record — a meeting that began with a resolution honoring Jovan Wilson, the grandson of Congressman Danny Davis. Wilson, a 17-year-old honor student, was gunned down in November at his home in Englewood, one of more than 700 homicides in Cook County’s largest city so far this year.

The report endorses “hot spot” police measures — sending officers to areas with surging crime — and called for more community-oriented policing, familiar themes of contemporary crime-fighting. But the authors also called for creating a consortium of academic, law enforcement and public health groups to coordinate research on violence, and for local police agencies to coordinate gun traces and crime reporting.

Boykin said federal law prevents the State Police from sharing data on gun traces with any group other than the law enforcement agency that requests the trace, but individual police agencies could share the information among themselves.

An intra-county database could allow police to follow guns, helping solve crimes and locate sources of weapons, said John Donovan, special assistant and counsel to Sheriff Tom Dart. Likewise, police agencies could track crime trends more easily if they had a uniform system for reporting and exchanging information.

“The hope is that we can come together and move that ball forward,” Donovan said.

Boykin said at least one recommendation of the task force, launching a public health study on violence and its effects, began earlier this year when the County Board approved the Cook County Health & Human Services panel to study violence in collaboration with other area hospitals. Boykin said he would be frustrated if other suggestions don’t become reality.

“We’re in a state of emergency” because of surging crime,” Boykin said. “But you can’t tell that by the [reaction of] elected officials.”

Dart Looking At Cashless Bond System

By Nick Gale, WLS-AM 890
(CHICAGO) Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart is looking at a cashless bond system saying the current system, posting 10-percent, is unfair to those who can’t afford to pay.
Dart’s proposal would have a non-violent defendant released pending trial based on a background investigation by the court’s staff. It would require lawmakers to change the state’s bail statute.
The practice isn’t unheard of.  Washington, D.C. has a no-cash bond system and some states, like Colorado, have considered it.
Dart along with Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle have already been pushing for lower bonds and an expanded use of electronic monitoring.
The Cook County Board’s criminal justice committee is expected to discuss the issue Thursday.
The Sun-Times first reported Dart’s proposal, but he joined John Howell and Ray Stevens Tuesday morning to discuss on the morning show. Listen to that segment here.
© WLS-AM 890 News

Ex-Cook County worker admits he embezzled from flood relief grant

(CHICAGO) A former Cook County worker admitted Monday that he swindled cash out of a $10.3 million federal grant meant to help flood victims, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Barry Croall, 47, collected kickbacks after arranging for companies to overbill for their services in the wake of severe flooding in 2008. He pleaded guilty to embezzling Monday in front of U.S. District Judge Andrea Wood. The feds say he used the money he stole to buy a condo in Yorkville and to pay credit card bills and mortgages on properties owned by his company, Dove US.

The actual amount of money Croall stole could become an issue at his sentencing hearing, which is set for Feb. 24. Though he faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison, his sentence is more likely to fall between 24 and 30 months, if calculations by federal prosecutors are correct.

The feds accused Croall of stealing $330,000 from the program when he was indicted in 2014. The English immigrant worked as a program manager in Cook County’s Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which was in charge of implementing the grant.

The feds say Croall arranged for companies working on eligible homes to submit inflated invoices in 2010 to the nonprofit West Suburban Neighborhood Preservation Agency, which was reimbursed by Cook County before paying the companies.

Croall later went back and collected kickbacks from those companies.

Strategic Management Services boss Ronald Ford of Country Club Hills was also charged in the scheme and allegedly kicked at least $108,000 back to Croall. Ford is scheduled to enter his own guilty plea Wednesday.

— Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County to hike minimum wage to $13

(CHICAGO) Minimum-wage workers in the Cook County suburbs are getting a raise, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

County Board members Wednesday approved an ordinance that will boost the minimum hourly wage from $8.25 to $13 by 2020.

The commissioners’ vote affects about 200,000 workers in the suburbs and unincorporated areas, said the ordinance’s sponsor, Commissioner Larry Suffredin. Chicago aldermen voted nearly two years ago to raise the minimum wage for businesses in the city to $13 by 2019.

The county vote came over the opposition of business groups, which claimed businesses would struggle to afford a payroll increase on top of a higher county sales tax and record property tax increases in Chicago.

Republican commissioners Timothy Schneider, Peter Silvestri, and Ed Moody voted against the minimum wage boost, and Gregg Goslin voted “present.”

“I recognize there will always be opposition to measures like this, but let’s get real. Who can live on $8.25 an hour?” Board President Toni Preckwinkle said at a news conference after the vote.

“Why would you relegate entire categories of worker to a wage structure that’s below the poverty line? At $13 an hour, nobody’s going to get rich.”

Workers’ will see their first pay increase this July, when the minimum wage will increase to $10 per hour from the current state minimum wage of $8.25. The minimum hourly pay will increase by $1 per year each year until 2020, and will go up each year thereafter in step with the inflation rate or 2.5 percent, whichever is lower.

The added payroll costs for employers will come on top of increased burdens for employee medical care and paid sick leave that have been tacked on federal and local laws in recent years, said Tanya Triche, vice president of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association. Pay increases could force businesses to lay off workers, leave Cook County, or go out of business altogether, she said.

“Suburban small business owners are really concerned about the level to which you’re willing to experiment” with wage increases, Triche said.

“If you don’t have employers, people aren’t working.”

Suffredin said that increasing the pay of low-wage workers can stimulate a local economy, because those workers need to spend every cent they get.

“They’re not going to put money into a 401(k) account, they’re not going to put this into an investment account. Every dollar they get is going to be used to support their family, so it’s going to come right back into the economy,” Suffredin said.

— Chicago Sun-Times

Judge rejects access to Laquan McDonald’s juvenile records again

(CHICAGO) Lawyers for Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke will not be able to access Laquan McDonald’s juvenile court records, a Cook County judge ruled on Wednesday for the second time, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

In August, Patricia Martin, the presiding judge of the child protection division of the Juvenile Court, denied the request from defense attorneys, who had argued that they needed to review McDonald’s file to prepare for trial.

Some members of Van Dyke’s defense team appeared before Martin again Wednesday to see if she changed her mind.

She didn’t.

Van Dyke is accused of shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

Just last month, Van Dyke’s lawyers made a separate request to see McDonald’s private files to Judge Vincent Gaughan, who is presiding over the officer’s murder case.

While Gaughan asked the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to turn over 8,200 pages of McDonald’s juvenile court records, he said he will first analyze them himself to see if they are relevant for the officer’s trial.

Defense attorney Daniel Herbert, at the time, noted the “significant” amount of PCP in McDonald’s system and his “erratic behavior” before his death and said he needed to browse the records to see if the teenager had a medical condition or was on medication.

Gaughan has not yet announced his findings on whether any of the files are relevant for the defense.

Christopher Nelson, a spokesman for special prosecutor Kane County State’s Attorney Joseph McMahon, said he could not legally comment on Wednesday’s ruling since the matter was in juvenile court.

Defense attorneys don’t plan to appeal Martin’s decision, according to their spokeswoman Anne Kavanagh.

McDonald’s juvenile court records, usually confidential, were made public to the Chicago Sun-Times and other media outlets late last year after the graphic dashcam video of McDonald’s death in the 4100 block of South Pulaski was made public.

Abuse and neglect complaints began when McDonald was a toddler. He became a ward of the state at age 3, was in and out of foster care, and had a history of arrests for drugs and petty crimes, according to those records.

— Chicago Sun-Times

Local, state health officials issue rabies warning

(CHICAGO) County and state health officials in Illinois are testing feral cats and warning residents to have their pets vaccinated after two outdoor cats tested positive for the disease in northern Illinois and western Missouri.

Cook County Animal and Rabies Control issued the warning Tuesday.

The cats found to have rabies in the past two weeks were in Ogle County, Illinois, and Cass County, Missouri.

Cook and nearby counties have increased surveillance for the disease, which is often fatal to animals and can be passed on to people from the bite of an infected animal.

Animal and Rabies Control Administrator Dr. Donna Alexander says finding rabies in cats is unusual.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Challenger of fired clerk seeking judgeship bumped from race

Video from ABC 7

(CHICAGO) Plans by a woman to wage a write-in campaign against a former law clerk who allegedly impersonated a Cook County judge has been derailed by the Chicago Board of Elections.

Maryam Ahmad on Thursday declared her write-in candidacy against Rhonda Crawford in the judicial race. However, the election board ruled because Ahmad lost in the March Democratic primary for judge, she couldn’t run in the Nov. 8 general election.

Ahmad, whom the Illinois Supreme Court temporary appointed to the bench in 2014 to fill a vacancy, told the Chicago Tribune she believes she is eligible and will challenge the decision.

Crawford was fired last month after it was learned Judge Valarie E. Turner allowed her to hear the traffic cases. Chief Judge Timothy Evans removed Turner from the bench indefinitely.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Cook County judge accused of letting law clerk hear cases

(CHICAGO) A Cook County judge won’t be allowed to hear cases amid allegations she let a law clerk put on a robe and preside over at least two cases.

The office of Chief Judge Timothy Evans said in a news release that Judge Valarie E. Turner has been temporarily reassigned and the clerk has been suspended without pay.

The Circuit Court of Cook County Executive Committee issued its decision Wednesday after meeting to discuss allegations that Turner allowed Rhonda Crawford to preside over at least two cases. Crawford is an attorney who has clerked since 2011 and is running to be a judge in November’s election.

Turner had been assigned to a courthouse in the southern Chicago suburb of Markham.

Messages seeking comment from Turner and Crawford weren’t immediately returned.


Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Medical examiner who turned around Cook County morgue resigns

(CHICAGO) Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Stephen Cina will resign in June, ending a four-year run as head of the once-troubled Cook County morgue, Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced Wednesday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Cina took over the medical examiner’s office in 2012 after predecessor Dr. Nancy Jones resigned amid a furor over mismanagement and a lack of resources that became visible in gruesome fashion when photos leaked showing bodies piled up in a cooler in the West Side morgue. The medical examiner’s office lost its accreditation from a national certifying organization in 2011.

In a news release Wednesday, Preckwinkle praised Cina for leading the office as it won back its accreditation last month, for recruiting top staff and upgrading the office’s outdated record system with state-of-the-art technology.

“Dr. Cina has done an amazing job of transforming our medical examiner’s office, bringing it from crisis to full accreditation in less than four years,” Preckwinkle said. “Through smart and creative management, it is now a model for the nation, a great testament to Dr. Cina’s determination and leadership.”

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Ponni Arunkumar will take over as head of the office after Cina’s departure June 5, the release stated.

Cina was paid nearly $70,000 more than Jones, and received funding for additional staff after he was hired away from the University of Miami Tissue Bank in south Florida. He was appointed for a full five-year term in 2012.

Preckwinkle’s statement did not say whether Cina had a job lined up elsewhere. In the statement, Cina said the decision to leave was a difficult one and the reasons for his departure were “purely personal.”

“With President Preckwinkle’s backing and the hard work of my staff, we have exceeded all of the goals I had set,” Cina said. “My decision to leave is purely personal and is based on a desire for a more peaceful lifestyle.”

State’s Attorney Challenger Speaks on McDonald Shooting

By Bill Cameron, WLS News

(CHICAGO) In the race for Cook County State’s Attorney, challenger Donna More rallied about a hundred supporters Wednesday downtown.

More officially kicked off her campaign promising to end corruption and put a police-involved shooting unit in the state’s attorney’s office. She said it wouldn’t have taken her more than a year to indict Officer Jason Van Dyke for shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times in October of 2014.

“I think that when you look at that video tape, and it’s hard to put an exact date, but I think that case should have been indicted in November of 2014,” More said.

And to give her campaign a little energy, outspoken defense attorney Sam Adam Jr. stepped up to endorse her.

“I knew there was no need for me to run, there was no need to back a Kim Foxx, we have who and what we need in Donna More,” Adam said.

Listen to Bill Cameron’s report for WLS radio news:

Adam took a pass on endorsing his fellow African American Kim Foxx.

@ 2015 WLS News

Brown Dumped Amid Fed Probe

By Bill Cameron, WLS News

Cook County Democrats have dumped Dorothy Brown for re-election as the Clerk of the Cook County Circuit Court.

The Feds are investigating Brown for a shady real estate deal and so slatemakers rescinded their endorsement of her after she made this brazen challenge to them about $25,000 she gave them.

“The endorsement of me is like a contract because when I paid that $25,000 and the party actually cashed that check, that created a contract,” Brown said.

Dorothy Brown is vowing to run anyway, but county Democrats endorsed Alderman Michelle Harris of the 8th ward that the Strogers used to control.


@ 2015 WLS News

Pellet gun found after Palos Heights high school placed on lockdown

(PALOS HEIGHTS) A lockdown at a high school in southwest suburban Palos Heights has been lifted after a pellet gun was found off campus.

Officials “received information” about the possible weapon at Shepard High School, 13049 S. Ridgeland Ave., and put the school on lockdown, according to a statement on the Community High School District 218 website.

The Cook County sheriff’s department conducted a thorough investigation and the weapon initially reported to police — which turned out to be a pellet gun — was found off the school’s campus, according Cook County sheriff’s office spokeswoman Sophia Ansari.

All school events including practices, activities and games, were canceled Monday.

“Cook County police will do a thorough search of the building with the help of the Cook County Canine Unit to ensure the building is safe for school tomorrow,” according to the statement.


Off-duty Cook County sheriff’s officer shoots suspect during robbery

(CHICAGO) An off-duty Cook County sheriff’s correctional officer shot a man during an attempted robbery Sunday night in the East Garfield Park neighborhood on the West Side.

The officer was fired at by an armed man in the 3400 block of West Madison about 10:30 p.m, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County sheriff’s office. He returned fire, shooting the suspect in the leg.

Police said the exchange of gunfire happened during a robbery.

The suspect, a man whose age was not immediately available, was shot in the lower right leg and drove himself to Stroger Hospital, police said. He was in custody at the hospital early Monday.

The officer did not appear to be injured, but was taken to a hospital as a precaution, the sheriff’s office said.

Chicago Police are investigating.


Cook County Jail guard paid $30,000 for one day’s work

(CHICAGO) A Cook County Sheriff’s correctional officer was paid $29,467 for a single day’s work last year, according to an audit that says the sheriff needs to better supervise overtime payments.

The officer worked 6.75 hours of overtime on June 15, 2014, but 675 hours were mistakenly entered into the sheriff’s payroll system, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The officer kept the massive paycheck, but returned the money almost three months later after the error was discovered. The officer, who wasn’t identified in the audit, was disciplined for failing to report the mistake.

In a report released last month, County Auditor Shelly Banks also revealed that 290 correctional officers each received more than $20,000 over an eight-month period in late 2013 and mid-2014. The median salary for a correctional officer is about $61,000, according to sheriff’s officials.

Under a federal consent decree, the sheriff has hired hundreds of additional guards, bringing the total to more than 3,400. Still, the sheriff’s office says it needs to pay overtime to meet required staffing levels in the jail. Most staff shortages stem from unplanned medical time off, according to sheriff’s officials.

About $36 million in overtime was paid to correctional officers in fiscal year 2014, the audit said.

Cara Smith, executive director of the jail, said the sheriff’s office is projecting that overtime will fall to $18.9 million in fiscal 2015 because of reforms in staffing based on recommendations from the audit. She said the sheriff commissioned the audit “to ensure that we appropriate taxpayer dollars as prudently as possible.”

Annie Slezickey, communications director of Teamsters Local 700, said more than $20,000 in overtime pay over eight months isn’t excessive compensation for the correctional officers her union represents.

“What is excessive is the need for overtime because of a failed staffing plan,” she said.

She also agreed with the auditor that the overtime system isn’t adequately maintained.

“Far too often, officers are waiting weeks, months even, to receive their earned overtime pay,” Slezickey said, adding that not all officers have received safety equipment, such as bulletproof vests.

Overtime became an issue this past weekend when 637 correctional officers called in sick over four shifts — more than double the total of previous weekends. Sheriff’s officials suspect the officers were playing hooky to watch the broadcast of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight Saturday in Las Vegas.

But Slezickey called the allegation a “smokescreen.”

She said there are still not enough guards on the payroll to keep the sprawling jail complex safe, and she called Sheriff Tom Dart “a boss who would rather insult them than acknowledge their contributions to public safety.”

The audit, which was presented to the Cook County Board on April 15, recommended Dart tighten controls on overtime payments to prevent future errors or abuse.

In a response, sheriff’s officials said they have beefed up controls on overtime. For example, the sheriff’s “Time Tracker” system now flags any requests for more than 13 hours of overtime a day to prevent another mistaken four- or five-digit payout for a day’s work, according to the office.

Sheriff’s officials told auditors they had created the Time Tracker system internally as a “Band-Aid” while the office waits for the county to launch an automated timekeeping system.

“The continued reliance on a completely manual system to process payroll . . . is susceptible to error,” the sheriff’s office warned auditors.

Cousin of alleged cop killer: He told me he did it

(CHICAGO) She lowered her head, sobbed, mumbled and avoided eye contact with her cousin and the lawyers peppering her with questions.

But Meosha Menzies hesitantly testified Tuesday that Timothy Herring admitted to her that he killed Chicago Police Officer Michael Flisk and a former CHA cop they knew from the neighborhood as “Sweet Pea,” the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“He [Herring] told me he did it,” said Menzies, 24, her back hunched on the stand. “He told me he shot them, two men in an alley.”

Menzies often told Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joseph Magats that she didn’t recall what Herring had told her about the deadly Nov. 26, 2010, shootings in the 8100 block of South Burnham Avenue.

Timothy Herring | Cook County Sheriff's Department
Timothy Herring | Cook County Sheriff’s Department

But when pressed, Menzies gave halting, one-word answers, confirming that Herring told her how he put a bullet in his victims’ heads and then came back to shoot Stephen Peters again when he saw him move.

Weeks before the double murder, Menzies said Herring told her that he wanted to steal the stereo system from Peters’ burgundy Mustang.

“He mentioned he wanted to hit him for his sounds,” Menzies said.

Flisk, 46, and Peters, 44, were gunned down while Flisk was investigating the burglary of car parts from Peters’ mother’s garage.

Menzies, who described Herring as almost like a brother, said she asked him if he had anything to do with the murders.

“Calm down,” her cousin told her before confessing, Menzies said.

When Menzies later asked Herring why he had pulled the trigger, he allegedly “kept shaking his head, saying, ‘man, man.’ ”

Menzies’ two-hour testimony was often hard to decipher, leading Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan to order her to “speak up” or repeat herself.

Assistant Public Defender Julie Koehler was more blunt in trying to get Menzies to talk clearly.

“You don’t want to be here, do you, and lie on your cousin? If you sit up and talk into the microphone, we can all get out of here,” the defense attorney said in a booming voice.

Menzies said she initially lied to detectives about what Herring told her “because she wanted no part in this.”

She said she eventually changed her story when she was threatened with a lie detector test.

Menzies’ sister was even more reluctant to speak with prosecutors, who had called on the siblings to testify against Herring, 24.

“I don’t remember,” Eboni Garrett, 24, said when Magats went over her grand jury testimony and a videotaped statement in which she allegedly spoke of the murders and the reward money offered for the shooter’s arrest.

Earlier Tuesday, Diamond Owens, 21, testified that Herring looked “shaken and scared” after jumping in her cousin’s car after the murders.

As they drove away, Owens said she saw two people “lying on the ground.”

Later, Owens said she saw Herring with a weapon. He then told Owens and her cousin what he had done, she said.

Herring’s ex-girlfriend also testified that he had confessed to shooting Flisk and Peters.

Alvarez plans treatment over prosecution for misdemeanor marijuana possession

(CHICAGO) People busted repeatedly with minor amounts of marijuana could face treatment rather than prosecution under a set of “sweeping” reforms Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is set to announce on Monday.

The county’s top prosecutor will announce the “first of its kind alternative prosecution program” during a press conference at her office Monday morning, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The program is designed for nonviolent individuals charged with Class 4 felony drug possession and intends to link repeat offenders with social service agencies “for treatment rather than pursuing criminal penalties,” according to the release. Its goal is to begin addressing chronic drug use as a public health issue.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Martin Maloney said Alvarez’s plan is a “welcome step.”

“Mayor [Rahm] Emanuel has long believed that reducing penalties for nonviolent, low-level drug offenses saves taxpayer dollars and, more importantly, keeps nonviolent offenders from a lifetime in the criminal justice system,” Maloney said.

Alvarez spokeswoman Sally Daly said the state’s attorney intends, in most cases, not to prosecute misdemeanor marijuana charges brought against people with no significant history of violence. Individuals with three or more arrests or citations for misdemeanor marijuana possession will instead be referred to drug school, she added.

Class 4 felony drug possession cases made up 25 percent of Cook County’s felony cases in 2014, according to Alvarez’s office. That’s in addition to 15,000 misdemeanor cases for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

© Copyright 2015 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved.