Thursday, November 17, 2016

THE BIG FIB: Despite Public Assurances, Local Service Agency No-Shows In Court. A LOT.

During our reporting, we’ve occasionally mentioned The Center on Halsted’s policy of not appearing in court when someone is charged with a crime against the Center or one of its workers. When victims don't show up, the court is forced to throw out criminal charges.

The Center, or COH, is a massive social service agency headquartered at 3656 North Halsted that bills itself as a “center for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons,” even though many of its clients are none of those.

One of its core policies is the use of “restorative justice”—-essentially banning someone from COH property until they say they will behave.

Or, as The Windy City Times describes it, “Restorative justice is an approach to handling supposed wrongdoing that aims to provide alternatives to punishment. It looks at the experiences of people involved and attempts to heal those afflicted rather than discipline an alleged wrongdoer.”

Upon learning of the center's court no-show policy, some area residents raised the issue at local community policing (CAPS) meetings.

Neighbors drilled COH Director of Public Relations Peter Johnson at the August CAPS meeting, but he never actually said that the Center goes to court, despite being asked directly.

Fortunately, Boystown bar owner Stu Zirin was there to help him.

“I’ve spoken to [Center on Halsted Chief Executive Officer Modesto] 'Tico' Valle about this," Zirin offered."He said they do go to court. You know, if it’s something serious."

Two months later,  Johnson was back at the October CAPS meeting.

“If anybody does commit a crime, we prosecute,” Johnson told the crowd. “We always send a representative to court when we file [criminal charges]”

“That’s not what we’re reading,” an apparent CWB Chicago reader fired back. “Do you prosecute every case?”

“Yes,” Johnson said, “that’s what I’ve been told.”

At this point, we’ll let the court records speak for themselves.

Over the past six weeks, we have compiled and cross-referenced records from the Chicago Police Department, the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, and the Cook County Clerk of the Circuit Court.

Our goal was to identify criminal cases that took place at 3656 North Halsted in which victims were identified as the COH itself or one of its employees, agents, volunteers, or contractors.

We found 26 such cases since 2013.

The COH showed up for exactly one case, according to court records.

They no-showed the other 25 times.

This grid lists every case that we found, a summary of the allegations, and the court disposition.

Peter Johnson initially offered to meet in person to discuss the Center's policies and practices, but he has not responded to multiple subsequent requests to correspond via email.

Center CEO Modesto “Tico” Valle did not respond to multiple inquiries about this story.

#DateChargesVictimAllegations SummaryResolutionAccused History
11/14/2013AssaultModesto "Tico" ValleA Black Disciples street gang member was asked to leave the facility after Valle saw him selling DVDs in the COH. "[The accused] told Valle, 'I'm gonna get my banger. You'll see.'"COH appeared in court. Accused was sentenced to 10 days.Accused has a long criminal record that spans 25 years for weapons and narcotics violations. He currently has another narcotics distribution case pending in Chicago.
22/5/2013AssaultUnknown female COH representativeCOH rep told police that she had a verbal altercation with the accused who became angry and shouted, "I'll kick your mother f***ing ass." COH detained the man for police.Complaining Witness Not In CourtNone
32/12/2013Criminal trespassingCOHN/AComplaining Witness Not In CourtAccused has subsequently been arrested twice for battery at COH. One victim was a client of the Center and the other was a neighbor. Neither qualifies for inclusion in this chart.
46/7/2013Assault, criminal trespassingUnknown male COH employee and COHIn a gang-related incident, a Gangster Disciple, refused to leave the COH, began flashing gang signs, and told the COH employee, "I'm gonna come back here and kick your mother f***ing ass."Complaining Witness Not In Court. (Separately, the state filed and won a conviction for violation of probation.)Five months before this incident, the accused was charged with robbing a man at Belmont and Sheffield. His two co-defendants received prison sentences, but he was given probation.
56/10/2013Battery, criminal trespassingCOH security guard and COHThe accused entered the COH despite knowing that he was barred from the property and having a previous arrest for trespassing at the COH. A COH guard asked him to leave and he kicked the guard in the leg. The accused claimed to be a Latin King street gang member.Complaining Witness Not In Court
611/22/2013Aggravated assault of protected employeeCOH security guardN/AComplaining Witness Not In CourtThe accused has a lengthy violent criminal record that includes prison sentences for attempted murder, armed robbery, narcotics, aggravated battery and burglary.
71/20/2014Aggravated assault of protected employee, criminal trespassingCOH security guard and COHN/AComplaining Witness Not In CourtThe accused was a convicted felony theft offender at the time of the incident. Same defendant as case #14.
81/23/2014Criminal trespassingCOHN/AComplaining Witness Not In CourtNone
91/30/2014• Battery (2 counts)COH security guardAccording to court filings: a man was asked to leave the second floor of the COH because he was not enrolled in any programs. He then began hitting the guards repeatedly in their heads and bodies with closed fists. Seeing that, the second man screamed "Get off my man!" and jumped into the fray.Complaining Witness Not In CourtAt the time of the incident, the second man had recently concluded a prison term and parole for using a 5-pound chain to beat an Irish tourist during a robbery at the Belmont Red Line station.
104/12/2014Assault, criminal trespassingCOH security guard, COHThe accused entered the COH after being told that he was not allowed on the property. After being told to leave, he told the security guard that he was "going to knock his head off and slap your Bluetooth out of your ear."Complaining Witness Not In Court8 minor cases and 2 domestic cases prior to this incident. Currently facing felony charges of manufacture-delivery of narcotics on Boystown's Halsted bar strip.
114/15/2014Criminal trespassingCOHThe accused re-entered COH despite being "banned and ordered several times not to return to the premises." He stated, "I don't give a f**k about the center. I just want free s**t."Complaining Witness Not In CourtMinor cases.
126/7/2014Criminal trespassingCOHN/AComplaining Witness Not In CourtNone
137/22/2014Criminal trespassingCOHThe accused was asked to leave COH after causing a disturbance. He returned a short time later and COH called policeComplaining Witness Not In CourtAt the time of the incident, the accused was on parole for a 2011 robbery in the 3300 block of North Halsted. He is the same person listed in incident #22.
1410/1/2014Criminal trespassingCOHTwo COH security guards flagged down a passing patrol car for assistance with the accused who "had been permanently banned from the premise and has been advised of this order by them multiple times."Complaining Witness Not In Court. (Separately, the state filed and won a conviction for violation of probation.)The accused was a convicted felony theft offender at the time of the incident. This is the same person who is accused in incident #7.
1510/20/2014BatteryCOH case workerVictim tried to separate an escalating altercation inside the COH. The accused ignored requests to leave and pushed the victim "with great force." Suspect was detained by COH security.Complaining Witness Not In CourtThe accused was a convicted robbery offender at the time of the incident.
161/5/2015Criminal trespassingCOHA COH security guard detained the offender and signed a trespassing complaint after he refused to leave following a disturbance.Complaining Witness Not In Court25 cases dating back to 1994 at the time of this incident
171/16/2015Criminal trespassingCOH representative (Same victim as incidents #21 and #23)COH rep signed complaints after the accused refused to leave and threw garbage cans inside the facility.Complaining Witness Not In CourtNo priors. Currently on 2 years probation for felony shoplifting from a Boystown boutique.
181/20/2015Assault (2 counts), criminal trespassingTwo COH security guardsA COH guard woke the accused man up and told him that he could not sleep in the Center. When security attempted to escort him out, the man swung his fists at the first guard and lunged toward the second guard. The accused pointed his finger in the second guard's face and said, "If you touch me, I'm going to come back and kill you." to police.Complaining Witness Not In CourtAt the time of the incident, the accused was a convicted robbery offender. Same offender as incident #19.
192/11/2015Aggravated assault with a deadly weaponCOH InternThe accused approached the victim and stated, "so you got my peoples locked up!" before brandishing a "black and silver combat knife," causing the victim to flee the scene and call police. An unknown person recovered the knife from a snowbank near the COH and it was turned in to police.Complaining Witness Not In CourtAt the time of the incident, the accused was a convicted robbery offender. Same offender listed in incident #18
205/25/2015Assault, criminal trespassingCOH security guard, COHThe accused was asked to leave several times, but she refused and then swung at security officer who tried to escort her out.Complaining Witness Not In CourtNone
217/30/2015AssaultCOH representative (Same victim as #17 and #23)During a verbal altercation, the accused told the COH employee, "when you get off work, I'm going to kill you."Stricken by judge.Accused was convicted of robbery in 2011 and served 3 years. He was charged with robbing a man on the playground behind the COH this summer. Iowa authorities have also said that he is connected to a murder/robbery/home invasion in their state earlier this year.
2211/14/2015Criminal trespassingCOHThe accused, a Gangster Disciples street gang member who is barred from the Center, refused to leave.Complaining Witness Not In Court. (Separately, the state filed and won a conviction for violation of probation.)This is the same person accused in incident #13.
2311/20/2015Assault, criminal trespassingCOH representative (Same victim as #17 and #21)COH rep asked the accused to leave after a disturbance. He refused, telling the employee, "I will slit your throat, you f***iing fa**ot."Complaining Witness Not In CourtThe accused is currently on parole after serving a fraction of a 3-year sentence for aggravated battery to a police officer.
2412/26/2015Criminal trespassingCOHCOH staff saw the accused drinking alcohol on the premises. He was arrested when he refused to leave.Complaining Witness Not In Court1 minor case
251/27/2016BatteryCOH security guardThe accused, barred from the property, was asked to leave by security. He "stood up from his chair and pushed" the guard before fleeing.Complaining Witness Not In CourtThe accused did prison time for a 2011 robbery in the 1000 block of West School. He has been arrested numerous times in our neighborhood and is currently jailed awaiting trial for aggravated battery to a CTA employee at the Addison Red Line station.
264/4/2016Criminal trespassingCOHBarred from COH approximately 2 years earlier for exposing himself, the accused returned to the property twice in one day.Complaining Witness Not In CourtAccused man's court record included 54 cases since 2008 at the time of this incident.

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