Sunday, December 04, 2016

Man Gets 15 Years For Convenience Store Robbery, Was Suspected In 8 Other Hold-Ups

A man who may have been involved in the armed robberies of nine convenience stores last year has pleaded guilty to one hold-up in exchange for a stiff 15-year sentence.
Thomas (left) and Branch | Ill Dept of Corrections, Chicago Police Dept

Prosecutors said 25-year-old Mitchell Thomas and 24-year-old Jamie Branch were arrested after they robbed a West Town 7-Eleven store at 3 a.m. on March 27, 2015.

Cops said Thomas pistol-whipped an employee at the store and then fled from police who happened upon the scene while the robbery was underway.

Branch pleaded guilty earlier this year in exchange for a 7-year sentence.

Two other suspects who fled from Branch's vehicle when it crashed during a police pursuit were never found.

The couple was suspected of carrying out at least eight other armed robberies of convenience stores during a 2-week spree in 2015, including several in our neighborhood:

• 7-Eleven, Broadway & Waveland, at 3:45AM on Wednesday, March 11
• 7-Eleven, Clark & Southport, at 3:30AM on Friday, March 20
• 7-Eleven, Clark & Southport, at 8:17AM on Sunday, March 22 (2nd robbery at this store)
• 7-Eleven, 2710 Lincoln, at 2:15AM on Wednesday, March 25
• 7-Eleven, 1349 Fullerton, at 2:23AM on Wednesday, March 25
• Circle K/Shell, Diversey & Racine, 2:23AM on March 27
• 7-Eleven, 2600 Lincoln, 2:30AM on March 27
• 7-Eleven, Halsted & Grand, on Friday, March 20 (They would be arrested after robbing this store again on March 27, police said.)

Under Illinois' standard 50-percent reduction in sentencing, Mitchell will be paroled on September 16, 2022, and Branch will be let loose on August 8, 2018.
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Center On Halsted Security Guard Among 3 New Arrests At Court-Shy Service Agency

The Center on Halsted and Ukesone (Inset) | Wikipedia, Chicago Police Dept
Just when you thought the antics at the Center on Halsted (COH) couldn't get any crazier, they have. But, on the plus side, it looks like the sprawling social service agency will finally be sending one of its employees to court--but only because now he's the one accused of committing the crime!

The COH security guard, who's charged with battering an agency client, was just one of three arrests within a week inside the firm's headquarters at 3656 North Halsted.

Neighbors have long urged the Center to send representatives to court when the organization or its employees are the victims of crimes.

The Center has publicly insisted that they do go to court when they're the victims, but a 3-year review of court records recently found that the agency has no-showed in court 25 out of 26 times.

A Three-Pack Of Arrests

On November 25, a man was arrested at the Center on Halsted and charged with criminal trespassing, violation of bail bond, and two counts of resisting arrest.

Lee | Chicago Police Dept
A COH security guard told police that 21-year-old Tony Lee of South Chicago returned to the facility after being instructed to leave. Responding officers said they saw Lee walk into the building and tried to place him into custody for trespassing.

Lee resisted, and the officers had to utilize "emergency handcuffing techniques," they said.

While searching Lee, the officers found an I-Bond that he was issued on November 17 after being arrested for trespassing at the Whole Foods, which is attached to the Center, police said.

Casey | Chicago Police Dept
The next day, a 24-year-old woman who lists the Howard Brown Health Center as her home, was arrested at the Center on Halsted for punching a 22-year-old man in the face.

Police said Tashena Casey "freely admitted" to hitting the man.

Casey was charged last February with battering a different man at the Center on Halsted, causing "lacerations and bruising," but the victim did not show up in court, and the charge was dropped.

Then, there is the pièce de résistance.

At 4:20 p.m. last Monday, Center on Halsted security guard  Adimabua Ukesone was arrested after a COH client told police that Ukesone battered him in an elevator.

The victim, a 29-year-old convicted prostitute with 23 cases on his Cook County criminal record, said Ukesone slapped his arm when he tried to video record Ukesone on the COH elevator.

Police stated that they inventoried "video evidence" in the case.

Smooth Get-Aways

In addition to all of those arrests, the Center on Halsted was also the scene of at least two other violent incidents recently in which offenders managed to escape before they could be stopped, according to police records.

At 10:50 a.m. on November 27, a sizable fight broke out at the Center and at least one person was seen recording the battle on their phone. But, the main participants slipped away before police arrived and no charges have been filed.

Later that evening, around 7:40 p.m., a series of 911 callers reported seeing an armed security guard fighting with a man who tried to climb over a register at Whole Foods.

At least four people were believed to have been involved in the incident, including one who appeared to be armed with a handgun or pistol-like BB-gun, according to witnesses.

But, once again, the men escaped before being caught, and no charges have been filed.

It would seem that the Center's policy of utilizing "restorative justice"--primarily "talking through" crimes with offenders and victims rather than pursuing a criminal case--isn't working.

Maybe they should try something that is known to produce results. Maybe they should show up in court, so these people see that their behavior has consequences.

And maybe they should also come to this Wednesday's community policing meeting to let neighbors know why the Center lied to them about their court policy. That'd be cool.
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Saturday, December 03, 2016

Daisy Duke-Wearing SWAT Team Biter Gets Probation (And Other Recent Court Action)

Sydney Marovitz Golf Course and McCovins (inset) | Chicago Park District, Chicago Police Dept
Court cases for some crimes we've reported on CWB Chicago have wrapped up:

One participant in a bizarre incident that saw cops and SWAT team members chasing Daisy Duke-wearing crossdressers across the Sydney Marovitz Golf Course has reached a plea deal.

Cops chased the suspects after people reported that they were zapping victims with a Tazer during lakefront robbery attempts in June.

Officers described a wild foot chase in the middle of the golf course, which was packed with duffers: “He’s wearing a pink hat and spandex” one officer screamed into his radio as the pursuit roared through fifth hole's 515-yard fairway

Cops caught up with the fabulous fivesome in the middle of the fourth hole fairway where a SWAT team member was bitten by 19-year-old Eric McCovins who threatened to have AIDS, police said.

McCovins has now pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated battery to police officers. A judge sentenced him to two years' probation.

Theft and trespassing charges against most of the other arrestees were thrown out, according to court records.

Prison For Wrigleyville Coke Deal

Pelt | Chicago Police Dept
Daniel Pelt, a 57-year-old Conservative Vice Lord gang member who sold drugs to an undercover cop across from Wrigley Field this summer, has pleaded guilty to manufacture-delivery of cocaine. He received a two-year sentence.

Pelt has a long, violent criminal record that includes a 30-month sentence for battering a police officer; multiple 10-year sentences for theft and burglary; two six-year sentences for robberies, and multiple drug convictions.

All totaled, he's been sentenced to more than 60 years in prison since 1983, but Illinois keeps giving him more chances.

Burglary Boneheads

It'll be two years' probation for Aaron Kaser, the 31-year-old Lakeview man who has now pleaded guilty to stealing a laundry list of tools from a neighborhood garage in September.

Kaser | Chicago Police Dept
Cops on patrol in the 1200 block of West Newport noticed that Kaser was hauling around “a lot” of tools that Kaser said he subsequently said he had "found."

Pressed for more detail, Kaser took the cops to an open garage in the 3200 block of North Sheffield where Kaser said he “took the tools…before someone else did.”

According to cops, Kaser was hauling a ProLift Work stool, a DeWalt hand drill, a DeWalt grinder, two jack stands, a Tekton torque wrench, two boxes of drill bits, a socket wrench with a bag of attachments, three portable work lights, a 50 foot extension cord, a bag of wrenches, three screwdrivers, and a C-clamp at the time of his arrest.

- Gerald Harris received probation for breaking into a Lakeview man's garage and stealing a $950 bicycle. Harris, 30, pleaded guilty to burglary in the October case which occurred in the 1100 block of West Newport.
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FBI Investigating 2 North Side Bank Robberies

The FBI is investigating a pair of bank robberies this week in neighborhoods just to our west.

The Lincoln Avenue offender | FBI
On Thursday, the TCF Bank at 4250 North Lincoln was robbed of about $3,000 by a man who wore a disco-tastic Afro wig and sunglasses.

The man entered the North Center neighborhood bank around 3:40 p.m. and presented a note to a teller that demanded cash, the FBI said. He then fled in an unknown direction.

According to the FBI, the man is black, about 25-years-old, and he stands 5'10" to 6-feet tall. He wore the wig, a black hooded sweatshirt with red sleeves, dark jeans, large sunglasses, and gray shoes.

The Western Avenue offender | FBI
Then, at 9;03 a.m. on Friday, a different man robbed the U.S. Bank at 4725 North Western in Lincoln Square of $1,411.

The FBI said the robber is white, between 40- and 50-years-old, and he stands 5'6" to 5'9" tall. He wore a red knit hat, a dark scarf, a tan coat, dark pants, and gray tennis shoes.

Authorities are offering a reward for information that leads them to either man. The FBI Chicago office may be contacted at (312) 421-6700.
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New Commander Meet & Greet, CAPS Meeting On This Week's Agenda

Cmdr. Marc Buslik | Chicago Police Dept
Two calendar items for your consideration this week:

On Wednesday, the bi-monthly community policing (CAPS) meeting for Wrigleyville and Boystown will be held at the police station on Addison. Start time: 7 p.m. The formal boundaries for the meeting's topics are Belmont to Irving Park and Southport to Lake Michigan, but all residents are welcome to attend.

Neighbors are also invited to meet new 19th District Police Commander Marc Buslik during an open house reception Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the police station community room at 850 West Addison.

Buslik, a 32-year veteran of the department, brings a reputation for community engagement that will be a welcome change for neighbors who felt shut out by departed Commander Robert Cesario.

The 19th District protects the area from Fullerton to Lawrence and from the Chicago River to Lake Michigan.
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3 Charged After Women Robbed In Lakeview This Morning

Farley | Chicago Police Dept
UPDATE 10:23PM-Chicago police have now identified the third offender as Jwan Farley, 20, of the South Side's Avalon Park neighborhood.

Like the two previously identified men, Farley is charged with one felony count of robbery and two felony counts of aggravated robbery-indicating presence of a firearm.

Our original report from this morning follows.
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Three suspects who robbed two women in Lakeview this morning are in custody and facing charges, police said.

Lloyd | Chicago Police Dept
20-year-old Joseph Lewis of Morgan Park and 19-year-old Donzell Lloyd of Calumet Heights robbed the women with a third person who has yet to be identified, according to a freshly-released media alert.

Police were assisted in their investigation by a photograph of the offenders’ license plate that was taken by a witness to one of the robberies, according to a source.

One woman told police that several men cornered her near the 1200 block of West Waveland around 2:50 a.m. and then began to chase after her. The woman said the men threatened to kill her if she did not stop running.

Lewis| Chicago Police Dept
At around the same time, another woman reported being robbed near Fremont and Grace.

The second victim’s friend snapped a photo of the getaway car and police were able to forward the license plate information to other officers who soon found it on Lake Shore Drive.

Police pulled the vehicle over just south of North Avenue around 3:10 a.m. and all three occupants were identified by the robbery victims. Cops found proceeds from the robberies inside the vehicle, police said.

Lewis and Lloyd are charged with one count of felony robbery and two counts of felony robbery-indicating presence of a firearm, police said.

They are due in bond court this afternoon.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gunman Who Robbed Local Stores Also Struck In Edgewater

The gunman who robbed a Boystown Walgreens and a North Center Jewel-Osco within 20 minutes early Sunday is also responsible for robbing two drugs stores in Edgewater the day before, according to an alert issued today by Area North detectives.

Without naming specific businesses, the alert warns of a Hispanic male gunman between 25- and 45-years-old, and weighing 180- to 230 pounds who robbed two stores in the 6100 block of North Broadway on Saturday in addition to the Walgreens and Jewel in our area.

A law enforcement source identified the targeted Edgewater businesses as the CVS Pharmacy at 6150 North Broadway and the Walgreens at 6121 North Broadway. The hold-ups occurred at 4:19 a.m. and 7:40 p.m. respectively.

While the alert says the man wore a tan Carhartt-style jacket during the hold-ups, CWB Chicago learned independently that three of the four victims said he was wearing a blue and black jacket.

At least two victims said the man has a mustache.

During the hold-ups in our area, witnesses said the gunman fled in a white four-door vehicle, possibly a Maxima or Altima, that was driven by another person.

Anyone with information about the offender is asked to call Area North investigators at 312-744-8263.
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OVERRULED! Grand Jury Brings Charges Against Alleged Wrigleyville Cop Beater After Goofy Judge Threw Case Out

A Cook County grand jury has returned an 8-count true bill against a man who allegedly beat an off-duty Chicago police officer during an altercation outside of Wrigley Field this summer.

Wilson | Cook County Sheriff's Office
29-year-old Tremaine Wilson was charged with aggravated battery of a police officer and reckless conduct in the June 22 incident.

But criminal-friendly Cook County Judge Marvin Luckman threw out the case citing “no probable cause” two weeks later even though cops identified Wilson after reviewing footage from a nearby surveillance camera.

Flummoxed prosecutors took their case to the grand jury.

Wilson’s now facing six counts of aggravated battery to a police officer and two counts of aggravated battery in a public place.

The incident occurred beneath a 24-hour webcam that captured audio of the disturbance as the off-duty cop tried to quell a fight on the street. The camera's microphone also captured squeals of delight from bystanders after the cop was knocked out.

The 28-year-old off-duty officer suffered a concussion, facial injuries, and a cut to his head, according to a source. He joined the police department three years ago after leaving the Marine Corps as a sergeant, the source said.

A judge set Wilson’s bail at $10,000.
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Despite Complaints, Uber Let Him Drive - He’s Charged With Sexually Assaulting A Boystown Fare


Early one morning in July 2014, a 21-year-old South Loop man hailed an Uber to take him home from Boystown.

Minutes later, the Uber driver who took the ride request, Adnan Nafasat, would choke, grope, and try to sexually assault the young man on Roosevelt Road, according to prosecutors.

CWB Chicago has learned that at least two separate customers complained to Uber about Nafasat's sexually overt behavior on the job in the weeks before the alleged sexual assault.

Despite those complaints, Nafasat was allowed to continue to drive for the company.

Prosecutors last year charged Nafasat with aggravated kidnapping, attempt aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, aggravated battery, and unlawful restraint.

Nafasat’s reported behavior before the alleged sexual assault was not illegal, but “show[s] his intent and state of mind toward young male passengers…and [shows his] propensity to be sexually inappropriate and opportunistic with young male passengers,” prosecutors said in a recent court filing.

Complaints

In February 2014, about 5 months before the alleged attack, Nafasat picked up a young male Uber customer in Boystown, just one block from where he would later pick up the sexual assault victim, prosecutors said.

Nafasat “inappropriately inquired…about sexual positions” in a way that prompted the passenger to ask Nafasat to let him out of the car before they reached their destination.

The passenger filed a complaint about Nafasat’s behavior with Uber via client feedback, prosecutors said.

Then, about three weeks before he would allegedly assault the 21-year-old, Nafasat picked up another young male Uber customer in Logan Square.

During the ride to Lincoln Park, Nafasat “inappropriately inquired...as to what [the customer] liked sexually and what his sexual preference was,” prosecutors say.

Once again, the passenger filed a complaint through Uber's client feedback, the state said, but Nafasat continued to drive for the company.

Finally, around 1 a.m. on July 31, 2014, Nafasat picked up his alleged assault victim near Halsted and Cornelia in Boystown.

He convinced the young man to sit in his minivan’s front passenger seat, claiming that the back seats were dirty and broken, prosecutors say.

After turning off the Uber tracking app, Nafasat allegedly told the victim, “No one knows where you are” and then began assaulting the man as he drove on Roosevelt Road, according to the allegations.

“At times, when [Nafasat] had to stop his vehicle, he would grab the victim by the face and throat to prevent him from exiting…The offender also pulled down his own pants” and attempted to force the victim to perform a sex act, prosecutors said.

The victim was also choked and had Nafasat’s tongue and fingers forcibly shoved down his throat during the ride, according to the filing.

We asked Uber to comment on their complaint handling procedures and other aspects of this story. The company, citing a policy of not commenting on “pending litigation,” referred us to an Uber blog post about customer safety.

No Pakistan For You

Two months ago, Nafasat’s attorneys asked the court to return his passport “in a limited capacity” so he could travel to Canada and Pakistan on business for a new employer.

The judge denied his request.

Nafasat is due back in court on January 23, 2017.

You can support CWB's newsgathering efforts with a donation to our Tip Jar.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

Reports: Carjacking Near Wrigley, Sexual Assault In Boystown Alley

Police are investigating after a Lakeview man reported that a gunman carjacked him a half-mile from Wrigley Field on Sunday.

The man told police that he was cleaning out his car in the 3800 block of North Wayne around 7:15 p.m. when an armed man  approached him, displayed a revolver, and told him “give me everything.”

The gunman then jumped into the man’s Volkswagen Passat and sped away, according to the victim, who described the offender only as a black man in a hoodie.

“No Report, No Crime”

Another gunman robbed a man near Belmont and Sheffield shortly before 4 a.m.  on Sunday.

Unfortunately, the victim did not wish to file a police report, so the crime is not included in police statistics.

According to the victim, the offender was a Hispanic man with an unknown name tattooed over his right eyebrow. The gunman escaped in a black 4-door Chrysler, the victim said.

Boystown Sexual Assault Reported

Detectives are investigating a reported sexual assault in a Boystown alley early on Thanksgiving morning.

The woman flagged down officers outside of Scarlet nightclub, 3320 North Halsted, around 2 a.m. and reported that the attack happened behind a nearby insurance office, police said.

Police were unable to secure a description of the offender immediately.

Doctors at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center treated the victim.
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