Tag Archives: escalante

Former top cop Escalante testifies at federal civil trial

(CHICAGO) One year after a national firestorm launched him into a brief stint as Chicago’s top cop, John Escalante spent Tuesday afternoon on a federal witness stand.

But the man who spent four months as the Chicago Police Department’s interim superintendent, starting in December 2015 after the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video, found himself instead answering questions about an arrest that took place 17 years ago in Aurora — and the role a corrupt narcotics officer’s highly paid informant played back in 1999, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Refugio Ruiz-Cortez has taken to trial his 2011 lawsuit against ex-Chicago cop Glenn Lewellen, who is serving an 18-year prison sentence for a lengthy drug conspiracy. The Aurora man sued Lewellen months after federal authorities first indicted the retired cop and accused him of giving false testimony at Ruiz-Cortez’s drug trial.

A jury convicted Ruiz-Cortez in 1999, and a judge sentenced him to more than 17 years in prison. But the feds moved to spring Ruiz-Cortez and dismiss his indictment in May 2010. Ruiz-Cortez claims he was framed by Lewellen, police informant Saul Rodriguez and others in the summer of 1999. Lewellen’s attorneys have called Ruiz-Cortez a “pathological liar.”

Rodriguez, who was paid about $800,000 for tips against rival drug dealers, is serving a 40-year prison sentence for crimes ranging from robbery to murder.

At the time of Ruiz-Cortez’s arrest, Escalante was a Chicago police sergeant supervising Lewellen. Today, Escalante is the chief of police at Northeastern Illinois University.

Former Chicago Police Supt. Phil Cline also is a potential witness in the trial.

Ruiz-Cortez said he met a man named “Carlos” in 1999 who tried to persuade him to get involved in illegal drug activity. Ruiz-Cortez said he refused despite Carlos’ threats, but eventually, several men brought a duffel bag full of drugs to his apartment. Scared for his family, Ruiz-Cortez said he allowed the drugs to be left there for pick-up.

Ruiz-Cortez alleges that Lewellen eventually convinced the feds that Ruiz-Cortez was the source of the drugs. He claims Lewellen lied to federal investigators about seeing Ruiz-Cortez carry a plastic bag of cocaine out of his apartment while a car waited outside, only to spot Lewellen and run back inside after dropping the bag.

Escalante said Tuesday he was possibly four or five blocks away from Ruiz-Cortez’s apartment at the time. He acknowledged on the witness stand that Lewellen was the only person who saw what happened in the apartment building’s parking lot that day. But he also said that wasn’t unusual. Too many surveillance officers would raise suspicion.

Escalante also agreed that Rodriguez was an “effective” and “prolific” police informant. But he added that CPD “would have been investigating” Rodriguez if it had known he was dealing drugs at the time, rather than working with him.

Big John Howell Show Notes 2-12-16

Chicago has a new hero: Chicago’s top cop was right on the front lines of fighting crime Thursday night. John Escalante was the first officer on the scene of an armed robbery. Escalante was just blocks away when the call of an armed robbery came in. He and his assistant were first on scene.

Republican and Democratic senators set aside their partisan differences Wednesday to unanimously pass more sanctions against North Korea. The Senate approved the sanctions bill 96-0 after lawmakers repeatedly denounced Pyongyang for flouting international law by pursuing nuclear weapons. Illinois Senator Mark Kirk joined John to talk about the newest sanctions against North Korea, and also responded to comments by Rep. Tammy Duckworth about radical Muslims. (Listen here)

Scientists are claiming a stunning discovery in their quest to fully understand gravity. They have observed the warping of space-time generated by the collision of two black holes more than a billion light-years from Earth. It is the culmination of decades of searching and could ultimately offer a window on the Big Bang. Dr. Shane Larson is an astronomer for Adler Planetarium, Northwestern University and he was a part of the team that made the discovery. He joined John to explain what it all means. (Listen here)

Parents of former Little Leaguers from Jackie Robinson West filed a lawsuit Thursday against Little League International, ESPN and officials from the local league. They are alleging, among other things, that they profited off the disgraced team while knowing of its ineligible players.

Nearly 1,000 vehicles will be on display at the 108th Chicago Auto Show at McCormick Place this weekend. Running from Saturday, February 13th, 2016 to Sunday, February 21st, 2016, the Chicago Auto Show spans over one million square feet in the North and South Exhibit Halls of the McCormick Place complex. Paul Brian the host of Drive Chicago on 890 WLS joined John with a preview. (Listen here)

Jitters over the global economy and a steep drop in crude oil prices knocked U.S. stocks lower for the fourth day in a row Thursday. The Dow is at a 2-year low. The drop in the U.S. followed large losses all around the world, and left all three major U.S. indexes down at least 10% since the beginning of the year. Will stocks ever turn around? Jonathan Hoenig the President of Capitalist Pig Asset Management joined John to talk him off the ledge. (Listen here)

Gene & Georgetti’s offers a new prime time menu in its lounge area featuring filet Bearnaise, prime rib sandwich and many more things. Michelle Durpetti from Gene & Georgetti joined John with some tasty treats for the team to eat, and an excellent event you might want to consider for Valentine’s Day. (Listen here)

After 41 days, the armed occupation of a rural Oregon wildlife refuge finally ended peacefully. Thursday as the last four anti-government activists surrendered to FBI agents. That was following a dramatic and emotional hour-long negotiation with the final holdout broadcast live on YouTube.

The U.S. Secret Service added news signs outside the White House last month warning visitors that guns and other weapons are not permitted. The agency placed the signs to comply with a provision of the 1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that requires signage at the entrance of federal facilities to convict someone of illegally bringing weapons.