Archive for the ‘Criminal defense’ Category

Students Charged With Hazing

January 12th, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Young athletes at Maine West High School are facing misdemeanor charges for allegations of hazing that some are calling child abuse, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tony Romanucci told NBC Chicago, as reported in the Huffington Post, that allegations of sexual abuse go as far back as 2006, and “that coaches at the school knew about what was happening.” The complaint alleges that older players on the soccer teams shoved younger boys down to the ground, beat them, and then sodomized them with their fingers and other objects.

The two soccer coaches, Michael Divincenzo and Emilio Rodriguez, have been put on paid leave from the school until the dust settles surrounding the incident. Six players have been charged with misdemeanor battery and hazing, but as of mid-December there was no evidence to support felony charges for any student involved in the charges. The Huffington Post reports that an additional four students are facing disciplinary actions. There have been other allegations of hazing abuse among the swimming and baseball teams as well, and the mother of one boy—a baseball player—told NBC that when she reported the incident to the principal it was “swept under the rug.”

Lawsuits over hazing gone wrong are nothing new. According to StopHazing.org, hazing in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor, unless it results in death or great bodily harm. If it does, hazing in Illinois is a Class 4 felony. Hazing is defined in Illinois law as: “the performance of any act by a student or other person in a school, college, university, or other educational institution of this State for the purpose of induction or admission into any group, organization, or society.”

If you or someone you know is facing hazing charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Teen Arrested at Gang Funeral

January 9th, 2013 at 3:05 pm

A 17-year-old boy was arrested for possession of a gun at a gang funeral in mid-December, according to the Chicago Tribune. Roosevelt J. Yarber’s arrest comes as part of a new police crackdown on possession of weapons and possible conflicts at gang funerals. According to the Tribune, “Yarber was carrying a .44-caliber Magnum handgun with six live rounds when he was arrested,” and has been charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon. Area North Deputy Chief John Escalante told the Tribune that “it just highlights the need for us to be out, monitoring these wakes and funerals.” 

The crackdown comes after one man was killed and another wounded at the funeral of a gang member on the South Side in early December, and was initiated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to help curb the explosion of gang violence that has rocked Chicago in 2012. The Gangster Disciples, according to a different article in the Chicago Tribune, were responsible for “more than a quarter of the city’s nearly 400 slaying victims through September 25” of this year. The funeral at which Yarber was arrested was for a member of the Gangster Disciples, but Yarber is not believed to be a member. He was, however, with six other men—“five of them members of the Four Corner Hustlers and one a member of the New Breed gang, which is in a gang conflict with the Gangster Disciples.” Police stopped Yarber and the men he was with because they were not believed to be Gangster Disciples.

Escalante said that at least four people have been arrested at gang funerals since implementation of the new strategy. “Everyone has a right to attend a funeral or a wake, especially one at a church,” he told the Tribune, “and not expect to be the victim of gun violence.”

If you or someone you know has been accused of gang violence or are facing weapons charges, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Chicago-area criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Indiana Teen Arrested for Selling Marijuana

January 5th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Indiana Teen Arrested for Selling Marijuana IMAGE“Authorities in northwestern Indiana have charged a 16-year-old boy with dealing marijuana on school property, saying he sold marijuana-laced brownies to fellow students,” according to the Chicago Tribune. When confronted with a plastic container and metal baking pan with brownie crumbs in his locker that smelled of marijuana, the boy admitted to either selling or giving away the brownies to fellow students, and “police reported finding two $20 bills in his pocket that the boy admitted came from selling the brownies.” More lockers were searched and several students were questioned, but no more evidence or confessions were found in the 2,100-student school.

The boy’s arrest comes on the heels of some major legislation elsewhere in the country that would make his crime a moot point. In November of this year, both Colorado and Washington voted to fully legalize the drug, and according to Rolling Stone magazine there are several more states throughout the union poised to do so in 2013. “As many as 58 percent of Americans now believe marijuana should be legal,” the magazine reports, including former president Jimmy Carter. According to Rolling Stone, Oregon, Alaska, Nevada, California, and New Jersey are expected to join Colorado and Washington in the legalization of recreational pot in the next few years.

One reason that pot is up for legalization is the cost to taxpayers to keep offenders, like the 16-year-old Indiana boy, in the legal system. According to Illinois Times, at the end of 2011 there were 777 people locked up in Illinois prisons for cannabis offenses. “At an average annual cost of $21,911 per inmate… the public is paying more than $17 million per year to keep pot peddlers and users behind bars,” according to Illinois Times. For a state with serious budget concerns, this is a nice chunk of change.

If you or someone you know is facing drug charges for marijuana, or any other drug, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Chicago Man Charged in Wife’s Murder

January 2nd, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Margarito Valdivia, 44, a Chicago man “with a history of domestic violence arrests has been charged with the murder of his estranged wife in Munster, Indiana, early New’s Day,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Valdivia is being held without bail for the alleged slaying, in which he’s said to have driven to his estranged wife’s home and attacked her and her boyfriend. Valdivia is alleged to have hit his wife’s boyfriend in the head many times, driving him from her home, and then went back inside to beat his wife. According to the Tribune, police were called to the home at 5:45am only to find that “Valdivia had barricaded himself inside. After a SWAT team was called, police sent a remote-controlled robot into the home, and he surrendered.” Chicago Man Charged in Wife’s Murder IMAGE

Erica Valdivia was found in the bathroom with “major trauma” to her head including her face. She was declared dead at 10:04am that morning. Mr. Valdivio has been charged with murder and felony battery, and it’s not the first time that he’s facing assault charges. He has Cook County arrests dating back to 1990, according to the Tribune, “when he was arrested on a domestic violence charge and an order of protection was lodged against him.” He was also charged in 1994 with domestic battery, in 1997 for criminal damage and having a firearm, in 2000 for domestic battery, and in 2012 was found guilty of battery.

According to DomesticViolenceStatistics.org, Erica Valdivia is not alone. Every day in the U.S. “more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends,” and “every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.” Domestic violence, such as what Mrs. Valdivia suffered over the years, is the number one leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

If you or someone you know has a case against domestic violence, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Illinois criminal lawyer today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Felon Facing New Charges Due to DNA Testing

December 31st, 2012 at 6:32 am

Michael A. Escort, 52, a Joliet man currently serving time for a different crime has been convicted of a 1989 murder, according to the Chicago Tribune. Escort is currently in prison for an aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated kidnapping conviction, but is now also facing charges of first-degree murder of an Englewood woman named Mary Smith. Police News Affairs told the Tribune that “DNA evidence linked Escort to the murder and he was in the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections when he was arrested for the murder.” Bond has been set at $750,000, but—because he is already in prison—Escort cannot be released on bond.

Post-conviction DNA testing is controversial. The most active group in favor of DNA testing is the Innocence Project, a non-profit associated with the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University. According to Innocence Project data, “301 people in the United States have been exonerated by DNA testing, including 18 who served time on death row. These people served an average of 13 years in prison before exoneration and release.” Advocates of post-conviction DNA testing say it’s especially important for people convicted of crimes before DNA testing was available.

Yet opponents of DNA testing, like that that could sentence Escort to an even longer sentence than he’s already serving, say that DNA testing shouldn’t be treated as the end-all, be-all means of evidence. According to the New Scientist, “different forensic analysts can reach very different conclusions about whether or not DNA matches a profile from a crime scene.”

If you or someone you know has been wrongly accused of a crime—or is facing conviction due to faulty DNA testing—don’t go through it alone. The most important step to exoneration is contacting a dedicated Illinois criminal defense attorney today.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Man Embezzles Hundreds of Thousands from Children’s Adoption Agency

December 21st, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Robert G. Geniesse, 50, the former chief executive officer of a social service agency in Naperville, fled America a few days before being charged with embezzling over $200,000 from the agency, the Chicago Tribune reported on December 18.

The agency, Our Children’s Homestead, is a non-profit organization which tries to find homes for children with special needs. Geniesse was fired from Our Children’s Homestead 18 months ago, when the agency’s board of directors started to suspect him. “People here were devastated by what he did,” said the agency’s Chief Executive Officer Kurt Friedenauer. Despite everything, the adoption and foster care agency has been able to continue its operations.

A warrant was issued for Geniesse’s arrest on October 25 after a DuPage County grand jury found him guilty of 10 felonies, including stealing more than $100,000 from Our Children’s Homestead. Geniesse used the money, for example, to finance his own film production company. He fled to Germany before the charges. “Investigation determined that Geniesse fled to Frankfurt, Germany, five days before the warrant was issued,” FBI agent Mark Wallschlaeger said. Geniesse’s wife had already fled to Germany about a month before Geniesse. Authorities said they will seek to extradite him as soon as he is caught in Germany.

White collar crimes such as embezzlement can carry harsh penalties from prison time to heavy fines. If you have become the subject of a white collar crime investigation, you should act immediately. Fleeing the country will not make the charges go away. Instead, you should contact a skilled criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

Off-duty Cop Involved in Hit-and-Run Crash in Chicago

December 15th, 2012 at 3:37 am

A Chicago cop who was off-duty crashed into a bicyclist in August in the Logan Square neighborhood, reports the Chicago Tribune. Michael Bergeson, 33, stopped his pickup truck after the crash and called police, but when he heard an ambulance approaching, he fled. He failed to notice though that the license plate from his car had been knocked off in the crash. Police found the plate and were able to identify the reckless driver.

Bergeson was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and filing a false police report. Both charges are felonies and may result in prison time and heavy fines. When facing a felony charge, it is always a good idea to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Bergeson also falsely claimed that the woman bicyclist fled the scene after the crash. The 25-year-old woman was knocked unconscious in the crash and suffered injuries to her face and feet and got bruises on her body.

The hit-and-run crash was witnessed by the victim’s boyfriend. The boyfriend saw the truck speeding and driving recklessly. The truck then ran a stop sign and hit the victim’s bicycle, and the woman was thrown off her bike and knocked her head. The off-duty officer got out of his car and asked the victim if she was okay, the witness said. The cop called 911 twice without telling his name, started his truck, drove around the victim and damaged two parked vehicles before he managed to flee. Bergeson has been relieved of his police duties and is currently working in an administrative post with pay.

If you have been charged with a felony, you need assistance with your legal matters. The faster you talk to an experienced lawyer, the faster you can move on with your life. Contact a criminal defense attorney in Chicago today.

Chicago police boss says they’re doing better

December 11th, 2012 at 5:55 am

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy praised the department’s efforts this year. Earlier in the year, homicides skyrocketed and the department’s crime fighting strategy has been working hard to decrease the murder rate since.

At a news conference at the police headquarters, McCarthy told reporters that although the problem is not completely fixed, the department is doing better and he that needs to be recognized. “I can’t change what happened in the first quarter. What I can do, is to fix it going forward.”

Compared with 2011 at the same time, homicides had increased 66 percent in Chicago by April of 2012. McCarthy shared that that rate had been gradually brought down throughout the year to only about an 18 percent increase from last year.

McCarthy gave credit of the reduction of homicides was given to the city’s decision to demolish more vacant buildings, arrest more gang members, and focus police attention on individuals are individuals that are more likely to commit future crimes. He said that, in general, the city is seeing less overall crime than it has for decades.

Chicago is reported to currently have the lowest crime rate that the city had seen in 30 years, according to McCarthy. The city seems to be in such a good crime position that it may even be in the lead for the whole nation for crime reduction.

Just after McCarthy praised the Chicago Police Department, the department retired the star of Officer Clifton Lewis. He was murdered last December while he was working off-duty as a security guard at an Austin convenience store.

Although crime rates have decreased in Chicago, there is still plenty occurring. If you are in criminal trouble contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley. These experienced criminal attorneys can help you today. Contact them or stop by in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

$55 million program to cut violence in Chicago

December 9th, 2012 at 5:49 am

An Illinois state-funded program paid for teenagers across Chicago’s South Side to earn $8.75 this fall passing out flier about non-violence. This program pumped about $55 million into Chicago’s toughest neighborhoods and three suburbs to fight gang violence.

CNN launched a four-month investigation and found that the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative (NRI) paid teens to hand out inner peace promoting fliers and also paid for the at-risk teens to go on field trips to museums, march in a parade with the governor, and attend a yoga class to teach them how to handle stress.

Earlier in the year, state legislators demanded an audit on the program, which is now underway.

Supporters of the program argue that it kept kids off the streets of Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhoods and helped inner city youth become exposed to new cultures, along with encouraging future leaders.

Critics of the program, however, argue that it was a waste of taxpayers’ money, due to the rise in the city’s murder rate since the start of the program two years ago. They have also suggested that it may have been an effort for the governor to buy votes for a tight race.

Pat Quinn became governor of Illinois in 2009, following a corruption scandal that took down his predecessor, Rod Blagojevich. After completing Blagojevich’s term, Quinn just barely won the Democratic primary to run for the full term in 2010. Again, he narrowly won governorship against his Republican opponent.

In October 2010, Quinn announced his Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, to make an impact at the root causes of violence by creating 3,000 jobs for young people.

The opposing Republican Party questioned the timing of this big announcement and many are concerned about how the program will be funded.

Quinn, however, insisted that the initiative was in direct response to the relentless violence that Chicago experienced in the summer of 2010.

The program’s accomplishments include the creation of more than 3,484 jobs, counseling for more than 3,100 children, and help to more than 1,175 ex-cons, as reported by the Illinois Violence Prevention Authority.

The Neighborhood Recovery Initiative is still a new program and has kinks still being worked out, but many kids and young adults are being kept out of criminal trouble because of it. If you are in some kind of legal trouble, contact an Illinois criminal attorney for help. The Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley can help you this holiday season.

Man charged for fatally shooting his son

December 7th, 2012 at 5:36 am

A judge has denied bail for a 73-year-old Albany Park man, who is facing murder charges for shooting his son during a fight. The incident happened at the family’s home on the Northwest Side, according to authorities. The Chicago Tribune reported a story on this murder case.

Tim Gilbert, 73, appeared in court on November 27, and the judge ordered that there will be no bail for Gilbert, the Cook County sheriff’s office said. According to Chicago Police Department News Affairs Officer Robert Perez, Gilbert, who lived on the 4900 block of the North Whipple Street in Chicago, was charged with murder in the killing of his son.

The victim in the fight that led to the shooting was 24-year-old Bryan Lopez. According to News Affairs Officer Perez, Lopez was shot on November 15 during a physical fight with his father, Gilbert.

Lopez was pronounced dead at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center within an hour of the incident. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, the cause of death was a gunshot to the head.

Gilbert has a former conviction for felony burglary back in 1988, and he was sentenced to seven years in the Illinois Department of Corrections for it, according to records.

The victim, Lopez, was a ward of state, but Gilbert had had custody for many years, Perez said.

Murder is, of course, the most serious of all criminal charges, but none are to be taken lightly. If you are facing criminal charges or need the help of a criminal defense attorney for a loved one, contact an experienced defense attorney in your area. Our offices provide services for many counties in Illinois, so if you need a criminal defense attorney and your area is one that we take clients in, contact us as soon as possible.