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Archive for September, 2012

Highland Park Woman Now Faces Reckless Homicide Charges

September 30th, 2012 at 10:27 am

According to the Chicago Sun Times, a Highland Park woman now faces much more serious charges following her involvement in a Labor Day crash that killed a five-year-old girl who had been walking down the street with her family. 18-year-old Carly Rousso was driving her Lexus coupe east on Central Avenue in Highland Park when she veered across several lanes of traffic and left the road, driving onto the sidewalk and hitting five-year-old Jaclyn Santos-Sacramento, her mother, and two brothers. At the time, Rousso was charged only with DUI, and released from jail on a $50,000 bond.

After receiving the results of State Police Crime lab tests, however, prosecutors now have upgraded Rousso’s charges to reckless homicide and four counts of driving under the influence of an intoxicating compound. Lab tests detected the presence of the chemical compound difluoroethane in Rousso’s bloodstream at the time of the accident, which is one of several compounds commonly used when “huffing”, or inhaling chemicals in order to get high. Police also found a commercial cleaning product in Rousso’s car at the time of the accident that contained difluoroethane. Rousso turned herself in on the new charges and her bond has increased to $500,000.

Reckless homicide charges can result in a felony conviction with long-lasting consequences, including lengthy prison sentences. As a result, Rousso and anyone who faces such severe criminal charges should immediately take steps to protect themselves and build a strong defense in order to prevent or at least mitigate a potential conviction. For instance, Chicago felony defense attorneys commonly examine lab tests results and enlist the assistance of experts in order to help diminish the damaging effects of those results and/or interpret the results so as to use them to the defendant’s benefit.

If you or a loved one is facing serious felony criminal charges such as reckless homicide or aggravated driving under the influence of a chemical, you must seek the assistance of a qualified Chicago criminal defense lawyer right away. With your attorney’s help, you may be able to seek dismissal of the criminal charges, or at least minimize the penalties that you may face in the event of a conviction.

Wheaton Man Accused of Home Invasion Held on $1 Million Bail

September 27th, 2012 at 10:25 am

The Chicago Tribune is reporting that a Wheaton man is being held in the DuPage County Jail on $1 million bail after being arrested on felony charges of home invasion and reckless discharge of a firearm, and misdemeanor charges of battery and firearms-related violations.

64-year-old Jeffrey H. Beard was armed when he allegedly entered the Glen Ellyn home of a female acquaintance, where he confronted the woman and her boyfriend. The couple reports that Beard fired off a round and held a gun to the woman’s head; Beard later allowed the boyfriend to leave the residence, and he immediately contacted police. After police surrounded the residence, the woman ran outside, and authorities hit Beard with a stun gun around 2:00 a.m. when he tried to flee. At the time of his arrest, Beard still had a handgun in his possession.

Felony criminal charges can result in very serious penalties for those who are convicted of these crimes under Illinois law. All felony convictions, and particularly those involving violence, such as home invasion and reckless discharge of a firearm, can potentially result in significant prison sentences. Furthermore, even misdemeanor charges can have severe consequences, including periods of incarceration. For these reasons, a strong criminal defense is necessary whenever you or a loved one face these types of criminal charges.

Your Chicago criminal defense attorney will take steps to investigate the circumstances surrounding your case, explore any possible mitigating factors in your favor, and recommend the best course of action to take in your case. Contact your felony criminal defense lawyer today, and let us help minimize the impact of a criminal conviction on your life.

Proving Suicide Over Murder

September 23rd, 2012 at 4:34 pm

The Christopher Vaughn trial has gripped Chicago headlines for the better part of September, but the trial raises some very important issues involving a murder trial, proving suicide, and mental illness. Vaughn is accused of killing his wife and three children in an SUV on a frontage road off of Interstate 55 before turning the gun on himself and creating two superficial wounds in his thigh and wrist. 

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Christopher’s deceased wife, Kimberly, spoke with her sister in the week preceding her death about her increased anxiety. Defense attorneys for Christopher argue that the sister’s testimony of Kimberly’s alleged bi-polar disorder corroborate the idea that she would indeed commit suicide. According to WebMD, the National Mental Health Association reports “that 30 to 70 percent of suicide victims have suffered from a form of depression,” such as the bi-polar disorder Kimberly could have suffered from.

According to, the only two U.S. areas where the homicide rate is higher than the suicide rate are Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico. Many high profile cases that many in the media and around the water cooler may have thought were murders are ruled suicides, or murder-suicides—which is what Vaughn’s case will be if the charges are dropped against him.

The idea of proving that a death was a suicide and not a murder is not a new one, but with modern forensics and DNA testing it’s more possible now than ever before. Vaughn’s case differs from the norm, however, in that in most cases involving the death of a loved one the family attempts to prove what has been ruled suicide was in fact murder. Regardless, his could be a devastating case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If you or someone you know is suffering charges similar to Vaughn’s after the death of a loved one, don’t go through it alone. Contact an experienced Chicago-area criminal attorney today.

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New Program Helps Minor Offenders in Illinois

September 20th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

Good news came for Illinois residents with a criminal record last month, when Governor Pat Quinn signed into legislation a initiative that allows counties across the state to “start rehabilitation programs for first-time, non-violent offenders patterned after the initiative started by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez last year,” according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  

According to Gov. Quinn, who gave a news conference to announce the new program, “justice involves your heart and your head,” and people who break the law in a way that doesn’t harm others don’t need prison to be “rehabilitated.” Twenty-three-year-old Philanese Stokes was one of the first people to benefit from the new program, and as she skipped out the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in mid-September she told a reporter from the Sun-Times that her credit card forgery arrest wasn’t a good look, and kept her from getting “one of the 50 jobs she applied to last year.”

In a struggling economy, cutting down on the cost of people in jails, as well as helping people to get jobs by expunging minor offenses from their record, could have staggering effects. The state could save millions of dollars from reducing the number of prisoners alone. According to the John Howard Association of Illinois, Illinois had nearly 50,000 inmates in 2009, and Illinois state taxpayers spent more than $1 billion on state prisons, “with an average cost of almost $25,000 an inmate.”

The Sun-Times reports that the new program has already saved Cook County taxpayers $1.1 million. By mid-September, 645 offenders had been accepted into the program, and 257 fulfilled program requirements.

If you or someone you know is charged with a crime, it’s important to speak with a qualified Illinois state criminal defense attorney immediately. Even with a new program that can wipe a minor offense from your record, it’s best not to have one in the first place. We can help to get your life back on track.

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Latin Kings Busted in Chicago for Major Drug Ring

September 17th, 2012 at 4:32 pm

It was a bust right out of a crime show. In mid-September, federal agents “seized an undetermined amount of cash and 13 firearms, including five long-barreled weapons in the final phase of operation,” from suspected members of the Latin Kings gang, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. More than 40 suspected members of the gang were arrested and face “narcotics charges for their alleged roles in two drug trafficking organizations that supplied and distributed huge quantities of heroin, cocaine, and marijuana in Chicago and the south suburbs.”

It was a two-year investigation that was aided by an undercover agent who infiltrated the gang. Not only were the cash and firearms seized, but also two pounds of heroin and wholesale quantities of cocaine. Damian Rivera, 31, was alleged as the leader of the drug trafficking organization, and Emmanuel Fernandez, 27, who allegedly stored and distributed the heroin.

According to, there were 1,663,582 arrests in 2009. Drug abuse violations led the number of arrests for any other offense that year—13 percent of total arrests were drug-related. Yet gang violence and gang arrests, such as the Latin Kings bust, were not led by drug-related offenses. According to a U.S. Department of Justice publication, only 8 of the 288 gang-motivated homicides in Chicago were related to drugs during the three-year period 1987 to 1990. It’s likely that these statistics have not changed.

In Illinois, it is illegal to have any contact with a streetgang member. According to the National Gang Center, in Illinois, unlawful contact with streetgang members is a Class A misdemeanor. Any person who “engages in a streetgang criminal drug conspiracy, is guilty of a Class X felony,” and can result in a punishment of up to 60 years jail time.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a gang crime or accused of unlawful behavior with a streetgang, don’t go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Cook County criminal defense attorney today.

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Tinley Park Man Accused of a Hate Crime against Bank Worker

September 14th, 2012 at 5:24 pm

On September 2nd, a representative of a bank visited a foreclosed home near the 6200 block of West 179th Street of Tinley Park.  This man was working on the outside the home when he was verbally abused from a neighboring home.  His name was not released but he is a 51 year old African American man.  The resulting altercation caused a Tinley Park man to be charged with a felony hate crime.

The neighbor accused of slinging racial slurs at this man is 47 year old Joseph Berndt, who resides at 17903 S. Highland Avenue.  He also yelled at this man and accused him of breaking into the foreclosed property next door.  Unfortunately, when this agent tried to explain his professional capacity to Berndt, he was answered by a beer can and a brick as well as racial slurs and insults.

Berndt went on the property to chase this worker away when the projectiles didn’t scare him off.  He was brandishing a lead pipe and swinging to allegedly harm this poor man.  As this man was fleeing, he ended up tripping onto the ground.  At this time Berndt is accused of choking this man while threatening to kill him.  Luckily, the man was able to escape Berndt’s grasp and call the police.

Berndt has said that he was under the impression that his neighbor’s house was being burglarized in an attempt to excuse his wild behavior.  While he has been accused of a felony hate crime, no more is known of his guilt or innocence.  If you have been accused of any sort of felony crime, count on a lawyer who can get you a favorable outcome in your dire situation, contact an experienced felony defense attorney in Cook County today.

Barrington Doctor Found Guilty of Medicare Fraud

September 11th, 2012 at 8:00 am

An investigation across the USA has discovered more than 90 people who have defrauded the Medicare system.  The total amount of falsified billings comes to be nearly $300 million dollars that could have been used for other people’s medical bills.  “The defendants charged in this takedown are accused of . . . jeopardizing the integrity of our health care system and our nation’s most critical health care program for personal gain,” Attorney General Eric Holder said during a news conference.

Dr. John Natale, a 62-year-old vascular surgeon was charged with two counts of making false statements, two counts of health care fraud and one count of mail fraud.  Natale is a surgeon who specialized in repairing abdominal aortic aneurysms, or the weakening of this artery.  These charges stemmed from six different surgeries during 2003 and 2004 when he allegedly falsified post-operation reports for his personal gain.  Dr. Natale prepared at least two reports which detailed fictitious surgeries or elaborated surgeries to be more complicated than they should be. These surgeries supposedly occurred while he was working at Northwest Community Hospital in Arlington Heights.

The jury of his peers did not find him guilty of all counts against him.  Out of all the charges, they only found him guilty of two counts of making false statements which were not the most serious counts of fraud.  The maximum sentence for those two counts would be five years in prison.  Luckily for Natale, the judge presiding over the case, U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, only sentenced him to ten months in prison, a fine of $40,000 dollars and community service while being under supervision for a year.

White collar crimes usually include any type of fraud including mail fraud, credit card fraud, and in this case, health care fraud.  They often carry heavy fines and prison sentences and are investigated for a long time to compile enough evidence.  If you are being investigated for extortion, embezzlement, or other white collar crime, then it is important to have a lawyer who understands how to represent your rights.  Please contact an experienced white collar crime defense attorney in Arlington Heights today.

Evanston Police Uncover Teen Burglary Ring

September 8th, 2012 at 6:00 pm

The police department in Evanston responded to an alert that a group of boys was trespassing in a neighborhood and from that they were able to expose more criminal activities.  It was around  6:30 pm on August 14th, when some boys were trying to break into a car near the 100 block of Clyde Avenue.  The police arrested three boys between the ages of 8 and 10, all who live in Chicago.  When they were detained, they had the key to the car, a watch, an iPod and a TV, which they stole from a residence in that neighborhood.

As these children were being questioned by the police, they revealed that two older teenage boys had set up this burglary.  Two sixteen year old boys approached these three kids near the intersection of Damen Avenue and Howard Street the day before the burglary. These two teenagers intimidated these younger children to steal for them with threats of violence.  During the heist, these two kids boosted the children through windows and acted as lookouts while the children were in the house.  It is believed that these two teenagers are responsible for a string of burglaries that have occurred in the Evanston area.

The 8 to 10 year olds who were arrested on the 14th were not formally charged and were released to their parents after questioning.  On August 22nd, one of the 16 year old boys was arrested and charged with residential burglary.  The police have reported that they know the identity of the second suspect but no arrest has been made at this point.  While these crimes seem silly, they have long-term consequences.  Juvenile crimes can prohibit a child from getting into college and beginning their lives on the right foot.  If your child has made a bad choice or has been pressured into a crime, please don’t wait, contact an experienced Rolling Meadows juvenile crime defense lawyer today.

Illinois to Rethink Juvenile Justice Recidivism and Lockup Aftercare

September 5th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

George Timberlake, a retired Illinois judge and the Report Commission’s chairman, says the group observed more than 250 prisoner review board hearings and analyzed the files of about 400 young people whose parole was revoked.

He says many of the juveniles who ended up back in custody didn’t commit new crimes, but instead were found guilty of technical violations of a parole order, such as skipping school and staying out late.

“How many teenagers do you know who are where they are supposed to be when they are supposed to be there?” Timberlake says. “Certainly, they need to be educated that time matters and it affects other people’s schedules, but doesn’t mean they need to be back in prison because of it.”

Arthur Bishop, director of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Department, has been on the job for less than two years. He began his career as a caseworker in the state’s child welfare agency. He says his team is in place to change the way kids in the system are treated. It’s pretty simple, Bishop says: Treat kids who commit crimes more like kids, and less like adults.

The old model still exists, Bishop says. Parole officers who aren’t necessarily trained to work with youth still handle many of the juvenile cases, but a new test model is up and running in the Chicago area.

Bishop says as soon as a young person arrives at a youth center, an aftercare specialist will begin to work with him or her, assessing any needs, like mental health issues. They may also have to develop a plan for their release.

“Not only does that aftercare specialist work with the youth, but they also begin to engage with families. And I’m emphasizing these points because that’s not historically done,” Bishop says. “Families are often put on what I call the ‘pay no mind’ list because many of the families … have the same — I’ll use my scientific word — ‘messed up’ backgrounds.”

While the push to change the culture of Illinois’ juvenile justice system may help reduce the number of kids who end up in facilities, it’s also tied to the state’s deep budget woes. In 2010, the Illinois auditor general said that it costs an average of $86,861 a year to keep a juvenile in Illinois’ Youth Centers – far more than for community-based strategies.

If you find yourself in a criminal situation you will need all the help you can get. Do not hesitate to get qualified legal help as soon as possible. Contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney today to determine the best course of action for dealing with your criminal charges.

Juvenile on Drugs Shoots Relative by Accident

September 2nd, 2012 at 10:20 pm

Drugs can cause many unnecessary tragedies. This seems to be the case in a recent case where a 16-year-old shot and critically wounded his younger relative. The shooting was reported by the Chicago Tribune. According to police, the young man was packaging drugs while under the influence of narcotics. He was carrying a gun which misfired and the shot hit the man’s fifteen year-old female relative. The drugged juvenile then left the crime scene, got rid of the gun and phoned his mother who was able to convince her son to surrender. The juvenile was arrested and taken into custody only a few hours after the incident. The unlucky teenage girl was taken to a hospital in a critical condition.

The young man may be facing many types of charges, from drug charges to felony charges to weapons charges. Whatever they may be, the penalties are likely to be severe, especially if the wounded girl does not recover from her injuries. In this case, the drug-influenced accident could ruin the lives of two young people. The girl’s fate is in the hands of medical professionals, but the young man requires legal help. An experienced criminal defense attorney can affect the outcome of any ensuing legal proceedings and help minimize the consequences of this accident.

Criminal attorney Christopher M. Cosley is dedicated to providing the right kind of help for his clients. If your loved one has committed a similar crime, possibly under the influence of drugs, and requires professional help, contact our skilled and highly qualified Rolling Meadows, Illinois juvenile crime attorneys right away. We can help you to get your child’s life back on track.

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