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Prosecutors have dropped felony charges against a suspect who was implicated in the shooting death of a 7-year-old girl and an injury to her 6-year-old sister. Prosecutors refused to pursue felony charges against one of the suspects citing the lack of evidence and the failure of one witness to cooperate. The witness is believed to be a relative of the girls and was in a dispute with one of the suspects. Without this witness’s testimony, the murder trial against at least one suspect will not move forward. Prosecutors also cited a lack of a confession or video evidence as a reason to drop the felony charges.

The outraged police officers threatened to ignore the prosecutors and try the case themselves. But the prosecutor said they would dismiss the case if the police took that route. To avoid a public battle between police and prosecutors, police backed down from their threats. The suspect is now being held on a minor parole violation. However, the felony charges against him related to the shooting are gone. 

The State Attorney’s Office issued a statement that said that prosecutors and police are now in accord with the handling of the case. Prosecutors reiterated that there was simply not enough evidence to bring the case to trial. The Chicago Police Department did not issue a comment when asked.

A Chicago woman is facing federal fraud charges after posing as the relative of young gun violence victims. In one case, she posed as the relative of a 7-year-old boy who was fatally shot in 2015. The 50-year-old woman posed as the boy’s aunt when she attempted to acquire the boy’s death certificate in 2019 and then filed a fraudulent tax return in the dead boy’s name. 

The same defendant was given an 11-year sentence on similar charges of aggravated identity theft and wire fraud. The woman was on supervised release when she was arrested for this crime, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors described the woman as a career con-artist who used her considerable innate abilities to steal from others as opposed to doing something useful to society. The fraud was discovered by an employee at Cook County Vital Records after he noticed that the same woman put in a request for four death certificates on the same day. The woman claimed to be the sister of each of the deceased, but each deceased individual had a different name. A check of the records showed that the woman had placed requests for 37 death certificates all in 2019 alone. Each of the individuals whose birth certificates she requested were recent homicide victims—mostly children. She was able to recover earned income and child tax credits on the deceased children, earning a passive income from her Southside home. The woman was also able to recover several COVID stimulus checks while those were still being issued. 

The family of a missing woman is becoming increasingly more desperate as attempts to find her come up empty. The woman was on a cross-country excursion with her boyfriend at the time of her disappearance. Police have named the boyfriend a person of interest after failing to cooperate with the investigation. However, not answering the police’s questions is not an indication of wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, when police ask a close association of a missing person questions concerning their disappearance, their tendency is to assume that anyone who is impeding the investigation is responsible for the crime. However, police also tend to assume that boyfriends or husbands are responsible for the deaths of girlfriends and wives in a large cross-section of these sorts of cases. Hence, a boyfriend may be hesitant about providing information to officers who are prone to accuse him of the crime.

What happened?

Several former defendants who were convicted on charges related to a single officer are now plaintiffs in lawsuits against the city claiming that they were framed. If you think it is hard to prove a defendant did something wrong, then you should consider how difficult it is to prove that a police officer framed a defendant. In this case, four men settled lawsuits for sums between $17 million and $21 million against the City of Chicago for false convictions, cooked evidence, and losing years of their lives to false accusations of a single police officer.

There are still eleven lawsuits pending against the same officer, all of which name the city and not the officer. Ultimately, the City of Chicago and its taxpayers will be responsible for making the victims whole. With 11 pending cases, all settling for $20 million or more apiece, the City of Chicago is looking at a $300 million budget shortfall all related to the activities of one police officer.

Hundreds of “confessions” tossed

The third Chicago police officer accused of excessive force over the past week has now been charged with a crime related to his conduct against a teenager. Authorities are accusing the officer of intentionally using his flashlight in an inappropriate manner and jamming it between the teen’s buttocks while he was making an arrest. 

The officer, who is a lieutenant on the force, has been charged with aggravated battery and official misconduct, both of which are felonies. According to investigators, the teen was handcuffed at the time that he was sexually assaulted. After the incident, the officer told him, “That’s what you get for carjacking.” 

The entire incident was caught on a bodycam. The teenager was fully clothed at the time of the incident, but it has raised enough red flags that the lieutenant has surrendered his badge and will now have to defend himself in criminal court. Unfortunately, there is no possible reason that you can give that would make it okay to sexually assault a teenager. 

Last year, the attorney general of the Joliet Police Department launched an investigation to determine whether or not there was an ongoing pattern of abuses within the department. The investigation is set to determine whether or not there has been a pattern of unconstitutional policing in Joliet. 

The investigation came after a man died while in police custody. Video footage, which surfaced five months after the initial incident, shows police attempting to communicate with a handcuffed suspect. At one point, they can be seen pinching his nose and striking him while his hands were cuffed behind his back. The suspect appears unresponsive. He died at the hospital later that evening. The official cause of death was ruled a fentanyl overdose. 

The investigation is civil in nature, not criminal. It could result in the reorganization of the department. None of the officers connected to the death were criminally charged. The investigation is focused on systemic problems and not individuals, according to the attorney general. The investigation was part of a joint effort by the city council and the mayor to open up an investigation into the department.

A Des Plaines police officer who accidentally shot a teenager while pursuing a bank robber will not face charges for the incident, State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recently announced. The investigation led to the conclusion that the officer was justified in using deadly force against the bank robber. Unfortunately, it was not the bank robber he shot. The investigation concluded that the officer acted reasonably.

The Decision

The decision not to pursue charges against the officer was based on a legal concept known as mens rea or “guilty mind.” Figuratively, it refers to evil intent and is a requirement for many types of crimes. Two crimes that certainly require mens rea to be established for a conviction are first- and second-degree murder. The decision not to charge the officer boiled down to whether or not the decision to fire the weapon at the bank robber was justified. The investigation concluded that it was reasonable to discharge the weapon in that situation.

Two Chicago physicians are charged with prescribing opioids to patients who had no legitimate need of them, according to a federal indictment announced on the Department of Justice’s website. According to the charges, the two prescribed high-dose narcotics such as fentanyl and oxycodone to patients without conducting a meaningful examination or medical tests. The doctors are accused of knowingly dispensing the drugs to patients whom they knew for a fact had no legitimate medical need for high-powered opioids.

Further, the two physicians are accused of colluding after one of the two named in the indictment lost his license to prescribe medicine. That physician used another physician to fill prescriptions, and now they are both going to be charged with fraud, trafficking controlled substances, and more. Another element of the crime is the fact that the physicians sought Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement for the improper prescriptions. 

The Opioid Crisis

eBay has become a haven for sports card enthusiasts and other collectors acting as a veritable stock exchange for valuable collectibles. However, not everything that happens on eBay is legal. For example, if you place a bid on your own item or bid up items you have no intention of purchasing, you are committing a felony known as shill bidding. As another example, if you try to sell vaccination cards on eBay, you can be charged with 12 counts of stealing government property.

Chicago pharmacist Tangtang Zhao sold 125 vaccination cards to 11 buyers for about $10 per card. While not quite as lucrative as a Mantle rookie, Zhao pulled in roughly $1,000 from the fraud and will now face charges before a federal magistrate.

When discussing the charges, federal authorities were appalled at the low price Zhao got for the vaccination cards. According to a spokesperson for the FBI, “To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences.”

The daughter-in-law of a Cook County board president has been charged with a grisly murder that occurred inside of an Atlanta home. Prosecutors have accused 40-year-old Ronisha Preckwinkle of murder, evidence tampering, and false imprisonment. When the couple lived here in Chicago, police records indicate that there were numerous domestic calls to their residence. However, Preckwinkle’s husband called the charges against his wife “preposterous.” 

Ronisha Preckwinkle is accused of helping a registered sex offender carry out a disturbing attack on a 23-year-old woman. Since the attack occurred in her apartment, she is being charged with the assault. However, her husband says that is not where she was living.

Preckwinkle is accused of helping Dennis Lane, a recently paroled sex offender here in Illinois. Lane has been charged with felony murder and necrophilia. Police are currently running his DNA to tie him to other killings. Preckwinkle and Lane’s brother are accused of helping Lane dispose of the body and remove key pieces of evidence from the apartment.

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