Police and Courts | WGLT

Police and Courts

Staff / WGLT

Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner says the nation's mayors are keenly interested in restoring trust in law enforcement. Speaking on GLT's Sound Ideas, Renner said the idea of community policing was a hot topic at last week's conference of U.S. Mayors, and it's important for the twin cities as well.

He says the community is becoming more diverse with a sizeable Indian population, a growing Latino sector, and a substantial African American part of the community.

Panhandlers Sue City of Chicago

Jan 25, 2016
JeremyA / Facebook via Creative Commons

A lawsuit brought by panhandlers who say they lose up to $10 a day because authorities bar them from a popular public square in Chicago is set to go to trial. The in Chicago federal court is a rare instance of jurors being asked to decide the issue of panhandlers' rights. The panhandlers say authorities violate their constitutional rights. The defendants include the Cook County Sheriff's Department, whose deputies help with Daley Plaza security. It argues the prohibition at the site outside an Illinois courthouse is justified, including on safety grounds.

A Bloomington armed robbery resulted in one shooting injury, and one arrest. Police say they have booked 18-year old Richard Sims for Aggravated Battery with a Firearm. That connects to a reported armed robbery Wednesday afternoon at Jackson and Lang's Alley near downtown Bloomington. Police were called to OSF St. Joseph Medical Center when a man came in with a gunshot wound. The non-life threatening injury was in the calf. The 19 year old male shooting victim, and a 20 year old say they were held up. Police say they believe the shooting may have come out of an argument about drugs.

Arrest Made In Christmas Morning Robbery

Jan 21, 2016

A Chicago man is being held in the McLean County Jail, for Aggravated Robbery in connection with the Christmas morning hold up at the Shell Gas Station on North Main Street in Normal. 27-year old Darius Vaughn was arrested for the stickup following the search of a residence in the 700 block of West Orlando. He's being held in lieu of $150,000 bond. No one was injured during the robbery, which took place just after midnight on Christmas. The store clerk reported the robber used a gun.

Kiki1196 / Flickr via Creative Commons

A Peoria County judge has ruled that he didn't err when he found a man accused of murder fit for trial four years ago. Edjuan Payne was found guilty of killing Orvette Davis and sentenced to life in prison in 2012. An Illinois appeals court sent Payne's case back to Chief Judge Steve Kouri in April, taking exception with how he ruled Payne was fit for trial. Appellate judges said Kouri relied on the prosecutor and defense attorney saying a report stated Payne was fit, but that judges typically review such evidence themselves.

Charlie Schlenker

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen has resigned saying he does not want his legal troubles to be a distraction to the employees and elected officials of the county. Sorensen turned in a letter shortly before a meeting of the County Executive Committee. In it he said it has been a true pleasure to serve the people. Sorensen is under federal fraud indictment over an alleged false billing scheme involving Sorensen's consulting businesses. County Board Vice Chair John McIntyre says the situation is unfortunate.

McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen will wait a couple more days for his first court appearance on federal wire fraud charges. He faces five counts related to an alleged false billing scheme to defraud State Farm Insurance. The appearance had been set for Monday but is now slated for Wednesday afternoon. Sorensen's co-defendant Navdeep Arora allegedly gave Sorensen more than $370,000 when Arora was a partner in the consulting firm of McKinsey and Company. Sorensen was an internal consultant at State Farm until 2012, also the year Arora left McKinsey and Company.

Judge David Butler

One of the things that changed with the New Year is the departure of a longtime fixture on the McLean County bench. Circuit Judge Charles Reynard retired.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

McLean County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen faces a federal fraud indictment. The document alleges Sorensen conspired with an outside consulting firm when he was an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to engage in false billing for work never done. Sorensen allegedly personally benefited by more than $370,000 in the scheme. State Farm says it alerted federal prosecutors to the situation in 2012 and Sorensen has not worked for State Farm since.

Ralph Weisheit / WGLT

Mayor Chris Koos is taking a wait and see approach on the indictment of McLean County Board Chair Matt Sorensen.  He spoke with WGLT's Mike McCurdy.

Sorenson is accused of using his position as an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to collude with an outside firm to file phony consulting work invoices. The indictment also alleges Sorenson steered State Farm work to fellow defendant Navdeep Arora a former partner at the firm of McKinsey and Company, who was arrested Sunday. 

McLean County Board Chair Indicted

Jan 5, 2016
Jim Browne / WGLT

The head of the McLean County Board has been indicted in a fraud case.  Matt Sorensen is accused of using his position as an internal consultant at State Farm Insurance to collude with an outside firm to file phony invoices for consulting work never done. The indictment also alleges Sorensen steered State Farm work to fellow defendant Navdeep Arora a former partner at the firm of McKinsey and Company, who was arrested Sunday.

Steve Damron / Flickr

Some Illinois drivers who have had their licenses revoked after multiple DUI convictions could get the chance to get behind the wheel again under a law that goes into effect in January. Applicants for the restricted license would have to prove they have been sober for three years.

Those who get a license will have to install a breathalyzer ignition lock in their cars, also known as a BAID device. Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz says the new law aims to make the roads safer.

Van Dyke Pleads Not Guilty

Dec 29, 2015

The defense attorney for the white Chicago officer charged with murder in the death of a black teenager says ``more education'' for officers is a good thing. Defense attorney Dan Herbert said that Officer Jason Van Dyke, who pleaded not guilty to the charges on Tuesday, is ``hanging in there'' and wants to tell his side of the story so that he's not seen ``as this cold-blooded killer.'' Herbert also said that they haven't ruled out asking for a change of venue.  

Michael Hill / WGLT

Bloomington Aldermen are considering several options to recover costs of providing additional police protection to serve the Downtown Bloomington bar district. Mayor Tari Renner and Alderman Scott Black spoke with WGLT's Mike McCurdy during Sound Ideas.

Bloomington Council Looking To Fund Downtown Police

Dec 22, 2015
Michael Hill / WGLT

Businesses serving alcohol in downtown Bloomington could begin footing the bill for extra police officers that patrol the area during peak hours. The Bloomington City Council is looking at five different proposals to bring in $130,000 for the Downtown Police Hireback Cost Recovery Program. Police Chief Brendan Heffner says the program started as a way make sure the rest of the city can stay safe.

Champaign Police Officer Embroiled In Controversy

Dec 18, 2015
Jeff Bossert / Illinois Public Media

The city of Champaign has agreed to settle a second lawsuit filed against the Champaign police department in a case involving the same officer. The department had tried to fire Officer Matt Rush, but he’s back on patrol, thanks to a police union arbitrator.

As IPR's Hannah Meisel reports, documents just released explain why Rush kept his job.

Obama Issues Commutations

Dec 18, 2015

Nine people from Illinois are among the 95 whose prison sentences have been commuted by President Barack Obama. All of those from Illinois were convicted of non-violent drug offenses. Most involved cocaine distribution.  

They included Alton Mills of Chicago. He has served 22 years of a mandatory life sentence for cocaine distribution.  U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin said in a news release that he had pushed to help Mills. Durbin said Mills is a victim of what the senator called "disproportionately harsh" sentencing laws.  

A Tazewell County woman has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges. The U.S. Attorney's office in Peoria says 41 year old Melissa Gilmer of Tremont will be sentenced at the end of March to up to 15 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Gilmer was a guard at the federal prison in Pekin. She admitted accepting $6,000 between August and December of 2013. In return, Gilmer gave contraband tobacco and access to a cell phone to an inmate.

Prosecutors say the cell phone seized from the inmate had calls and text messages between Gilmer and the inmate's family.

Penitent Rahm Tries To Repair His Base

Dec 16, 2015

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has kept a low profile - since delivering an impassioned speech last week on policing in the city. IPR's Tony Arnold reports the public is now getting an idea of what the mayor has been up to.

City council members have signed off on a $225,000 settlement to a second lawsuit that accuses a Champaign police officer using excessive force. The council approved the settlement unanimously yesterday amid a demonstration that saw about 150 protesters march from the police station to the city building. They were calling for the dismissal of officer Matt Rush and the approval of a civilian review board. Rush faces separate lawsuits alleging the use of excessive force filed by three plaintiffs.

The McLean County Sheriff's Department is getting a new canine unit. Sheriff John Sandage says that's through a $59,000 grant from the Howard Buffet Foundation.

Sheriff's police already have one drug dog on staff. Eight weeks of training starts in January.

Sandage says the grant pays for the dog, equipment, a new vehicle, and eight weeks of training.

Sandage says the Buffet Foundation offers canine unit grants through Illinois and has also supported Macon County mental health programs.

A jury has returned a record setting malpractice verdict in Ford County. The $950,000 award more than doubled the previous high mark set in 2007. The Clifford Law Offices says a 73-year old Gibson City man had two visits to the emergency room and primary physician's clinic complaining of chest pain. No one made cardiac tests or referred him to a heart specialist. Dean Buhs was then admitted to the hospital, discharged three days later without tests, returned with the same complaints the next day, and then died.

Michael Hill / WGLT

The Bloomington City Council is taking the next step in creating a tax increment financing district that includes Colonial Plaza. A meeting will be held next month among stakeholders affected by the proposal. 

A former Illinois National Guard soldier has pleaded guilty to charges he conspired to provide material support to the Islamic State group. Hasan Edmonds of Aurora, Illinois, entered the plea in Chicago federal court, a week after his cousin, Jonas Edmonds, pleaded guilty to similar charges. They are accused of plotting to attack the Joliet Armory with assault rifles and grenades.  

Missing Man Found Dead

Dec 11, 2015
Bloomington Police Dept.

Bloomington police say the body of a man reported missing has been located. The body of 21 year old Ryan Kindig was found yesterday afternoon in a shed on his property. Police say there is nothing to indicate foul play. Kindig had last been seen in Champaign last Saturday. He was reported missing by family members the next day. He was last spotted in Bloomington Friday after an argument with family members.

Bloomington Police Dept.

Bloomington police are seeking the public's help in locating a man who was last seen by acquaintances last weekend. 21-year old Ryan Kindig was last seen in Champaign on December 5th. He was reported missing by family members the next day. He was last spotted in Bloomington Friday, Dec. 4th after an argument with family members.

Francois Biber / Flickr

A Chicago lawmaker plans to try again next spring to drop criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Democratic Represetative Kelly Cassidy plans to announce her proposal Thursday in Chicago. The General Assembly endorsed a Cassidy-sponsored plan last spring to impose fines for possession of marijuana. Republican Governor Bruce Rauner used his power to lowered the amount of marijuana allowed to 10 grams from 15 grams in Cassidy's plan, and impose fines of $100 to $200 instead of $55 to $125.

CBradshaw / Creative Commons

An Aurora man has pleaded guilty to charges he conspired to provide material support to the Islamic State group and making false statements regarding terrorism. Jonas Edmonds entered the plea before a federal judge Wednesday. He is accused, along with his cousin Hasan Edmonds, of plotting to attack an Illinois National Guard base in Joliet with assault rifles and grenades. Hasan Edmonds is expected to plead guilty on Monday. He served with the 634th Brigade Support Battalion in Joliet. Prosecutors say Jonas Edmonds planned to wear his cousin's uniform and attack the base.

flickr.com/appleswitch (Creative Commons)

So far, it seems no police officers have been disciplined for helping conceal the circumstances under which Chicago teenager Laquan McDonald was killed. Because of that, a group of black lawmakers say Illinois should consider licensing police. IPR's Amanda Vinicky has more.

A man convicted of multiple counts of predatory child sexual assault and abuse in McLean County will get a new sentence. An Illinois Appeals court has sent the case back to Judge Scott Drazewski saying the life sentence imposed on Brett Wilson constituted cruel and unusual punishment.

Wilson appealed after his conviction in 2013 saying the prosecutor's closing arguments were improper, the judge made mistakes in allowing evidence of other crimes into the record, and the sentence was unjust.