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A Bloomington man was awarded a stiff 13-year prison sentence after he drove his motorcycle into protesters. One woman suffered abdominal injuries while another man sustained a swollen arm. The defendant, Marshall Blanchard, was given seven years for failing to give information following a traffic accident, and another six years on the hate crime charge. The sentences will run concurrently, however, meaning he will only have to serve, at most, seven years. He will also be given credit for time served. Several charges were dismissed as a part of the plea bargain, which on its face, makes little sense. Below, we will discuss why.

Failing to Give Information After an Accident

Failing to give information after an accident is generally charged as a class-A misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of one year in jail. He was given six years, probably due to his negotiated plea to run concurrently (at the same time) with a more severe hate crime charge. The maximum penalty for the most serious types of hate crimes is seven years.

While The Donald himself is not facing charges related to what authorities call an “audacious” tax fraud scheme, his company and his Chief Financial Officer are facing accusations that they failed to report over $1.7 million in earnings. It is unclear whether or not Trump will be charged, but investigators noted that he signed some of the questionable checks. Nonetheless, that comes short of proving fraud, which requires the prosecution to prove that the defendant knowingly deceived the federal government by hiding income streams. It is much more likely that the company’s CFO will take the fall for this.

As part of the scheme, the CFO paid himself and other executives off the books by utilizing lucrative fringe benefits, hence reducing their payroll taxes. Meanwhile, Trump is employing his usual strategy of demonizing the investigation as a “witch hunt” perpetrated by “radical democrats.”

Is This a Witch Hunt?

Two employees of a Chicago-area nursing home are facing criminal charges after a 96-year-old woman froze to death inside of a van on a cold Chicago night. Prosecutors contend that the woman was being transported to a nearby hospital for medical attention but never made it home. The driver of the bus parked the van without checking to see if the woman was still in the back. She was left there overnight and discovered the next morning after having frozen to death. Afterward, the bus driver made a fake entry into a logbook that the woman was returned to her facility on time. 

Other employees are also facing charges related to their failure to account for the woman over the course of an entire night. According to the complaint, the facility’s resident care manager was notified that the woman was not accounted for, but allegedly made no effort to find her. The next morning, staff began conducting a search for her and she was found still on the bus.

Two are facing charges related to the woman’s death, the driver of the bus who forgot the woman, and the resident care manager who failed to conduct a search until the next morning. Both are charged with criminal neglect of a long-term resident resulting in death, while the resident care manager is facing an additional lesser charge.

Chicago Alderman Carrie Austin and her chief of staff are facing federal criminal charges alleging bribery. According to the charges, Austin brokered a deal for a multi-unit real estate development contract. Federal authorities believe that the developer offered Austin home improvements to grease her wheels. Her chief of staff was also offered home improvements. Between them, they acquired new kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, bathroom tiling, new sump pumps, and a brand new HVAC system.

The federal government looks unkindly on businesses offering free services to elected officials, especially when that business went on to win a major contract that was granted with the help of the gift receiver. Austin is the third Chicago alderman to face indictment and the second charged this year. 

On what basis are these charges filed?

The U.S. Attorney’s Office recently issued an update on its PSN program (Project Safe Neighborhoods). PSN is, according to the government, an evidence-based program that has been proven effective against violent crime. 

PSN is a collection of strategies that brings together state, local, and federal law enforcement to target the worst criminals and violent crime. While this language is fairly opaque, the undertone is gangs. The initiative seeks to hold organized crime accountable for the numerous deaths it causes each year. 

While authorities say that there has been progress, they also admit that the “number of violent crimes in Chicago remains stubbornly high.” Chicago remains a major target for federal authorities whose focus remains on weapons trafficking and drug trafficking. Several federal agencies are partnering with Cook County law enforcement to help better bring violent criminals to justice.

Authorities have made a reported $22 million cannabis bust after pursuing a vehicle at high speeds. The defendant, Jesser Oaxaca, 32, will face one count of trafficking cannabis, numerous weapons charges, and one charge of delivering cannabis. 

According to police, they spotted the van exiting a warehouse they suspected of drug activity. Two suspects emerged from this. One was Oaxaca and the other was an accomplice, Nicholas Valentino. 

Authorities followed the van while Valentino and Oaxaca conspired on Facetime to ambush the pursuing agents. At one point, Valentino fired two shots into the officers’ car. No one, however, was injured. Afterward, a high-speed chase ensued. The two vehicles piloted by each suspect fled in opposite directions. The Volkswagen, driven by Valentino eventually crashed into a squad card, thus ending the chase. 

A special prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Kim Foxx’s State’s Attorney’s Office after the prosecutor trying the case of Jackie Wilson admitted to having a relationship with a witness and then lied on the stand. The ruling included extremely aggressive language describing the incident as an “absolute disgrace,” terminology which has been thrown around a lot in reference to Chicago’s criminal justice system recently. At the very least, the judge accused the State Attorney’s office of ineptitude but also indicated that there is evidence of a cover-up. 

Cook County prosecutors argued passionately against having an independent special prosecutor involved in the case. However, they also said they welcomed the investigation and that they would not oppose further investigation into Nick Trutenko who allegedly perjured himself on the stand after having an illicit relationship with a witness. 

The special prosecutor will have the authority to investigate the office for wrongdoing surrounding the breakdown of a high-profile case that was highlighted by prosecutorial misconduct. If criminal charges are warranted, the prosecutor will have the authority to convene a grand jury.

The officer is okay. He was shot in the vest. The woman who fired the bullets, however, was critically injured in the exchange of gunfire. She was charged with attempted murder, weapons crimes, and aggravated battery. On Monday, she accepted a plea for aggravated battery and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Good behavior credits plus time served mean that she could be out in as little as four years. Had the defendant been convicted of attempted murder, she would have faced a minimum sentence of 26 years. 

What Happened?

Two plainclothes officers witnessed the defendant during a suspected drug deal. One officer called the defendant over for questioning. She immediately ran. The officer gave chase. When he was about to catch up with her, she turned around and shot him. The bullet penetrated a flashlight on his vest and then also penetrated the vest leaving a scar on his body near his heart. The officers returned fire but critically wounded the defendant who survived her injuries to stand trial. She was expected to plead innocent and then defend herself at trial, but a last-minute plea deal subverted the effort.

Kelly’s attorneys have petitioned the court to withdraw from Kelly’s Chicago trial two months before the trial on racketeering charges is set to begin. According to the attorneys, they have asked to withdraw after two junior attorneys demanded a larger role in Kelly’s defense. The attorneys sent a letter to the presiding judge requesting withdrawal from the case. While they did not give their reasons, the letter indicated that it would be “impossible” to continue to represent Kelly.

Essentially, it appears as though two junior attorneys are being given a greater role in the criminal defense of Kelly, much to the chagrin of his head counsel. The judge can decide, if they are so inclined, to deny the request. The attorneys have requested a hearing to address the issue.

That could be the most likely outcome given that numerous delays have resulted in the forestalling of Kelly’s prosecution. It is unclear, however, that Kelly would benefit from another delay, as he has been incarcerated here in Chicago since January. He is currently charged with racketeering, numerous sex crimes, and coercing or influencing witnesses and jurors. 

Two Chicago police officers are under investigation after allegedly beating a teenaged boy whom they had arrested in the past. Two others face allegations that they failed to intervene or stop the unjustified use of force. The incident is being investigated by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. Police say that they only went after the boy after he had struck their vehicle with a stolen vehicle in his possession and pointed a gun at the officers. 

One of the officers is alleged to have struck the teenager in the face and head, while another is alleged to have pressed his face into the ground and into a wire fence. The other officer is accused of punching the teenager without justification. A third officer is accused of failing to intervene and a fourth is accused of turning off his body camera. The police are also accused of conducting an improper vehicle pursuit, among other procedural issues. None of the officers have been charged with disciplinary violations.

Analyzing the Situation

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