Monday, May 15, 2017

Political Operative Found Dead Inside Van Emblazoned With 1st Ward Alderman’s Name; Suicide Suspected

Muntaner's van, seen here, sported two signs promoting 1st Ward Alderman Proco Joe Moreno | CWB Source
Chicago police are conducting a death investigation after a long-time 1st Ward political operative was found shot to death Sunday inside a van plastered with the signage of Chicago Alderman Proco "Joe" Moreno. Suicide is suspected.

1st Ward Alderman Proco Joe Moreno
Around 4:15 p.m. yesterday, a witness near the Elks National Memorial at 2710 North Lakeview reported hearing a single gunshot come from the van, which had "Proco Joe Moreno" signs affixed to its sides.

The incident played out just steps from grassy Lincoln Park where hundreds of locals were enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Pronounced dead at the scene was Logan Square resident Joseph Muntaner, the registered owner of the van and a long-time member of Moreno’s campaign organization and ward operation, according to a city government source who requested anonymity.

Moreno in 2014 said “my guy Muntaner…takes [his van] around to shovel snow, fill potholes, random odd jobs that need to get done. He's a ‘unique’ guy but a huge asset to the ward, albeit a bit rough around the edges at times. His methods are unorthodox…”

Police on the scene Sunday, with Munater's van in the background | Arturo Carmona
Munater's "roughness" may stem from the years he served in prison for robbery, being a felon in possession of a firearm, and narcotics, before he got into politics.

State records show he pocketed $34,511.20 of the alderman's campaign fund cash between late October 2011 and December 2015 for “field work,” “cleaning services,” and “graffiti removal.”

Campaign fund payouts ended at the end of 2015, according to Moreno's state filings.

Nonetheless, Munater—habitually decked out in a reflective yellow worker vest with the alderman's name on the back—was seen speeding around the 1st Ward in his minivan as recently as April, according to a source.

While the alderman called Muntaner’s tactics “unique” and “unorthodox,” some folks found them to be “thuggish” during the 2016 city election cycle.

At least two people reported that Muntaner told them that “there will be repercussions” for their decisions to wear stickers in support of a Moreno opponent.  Moreno went on to win the election with 51% of the votes.

Muntaner's van was towed to a police impound lot Sunday evening for forensics work. A revolver was found on its floorboard, according to a source. One shot had been fired.


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