Friday, September 19, 2014

Former County Sheriff’s Deputy Sentenced to 50 Years in Federal Prison for Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

A former McHenry County sheriff’s deputy who was that department’s representative on the state’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force was sentenced to 50 years in federal prison for child sexual abuse and exploitation. The defendant, GREGORY M. PYLE, 39, of Crest Hills, Ill., formerly of Crystal Lake, Ill., was also placed on lifetime supervision after release from custody by U.S. District Comi Judge Frederick J. Kapala, who imposed the sentence in Federal Comi in Rockford.

Pyle, a sheriff’s deputy for more than a decade, pleaded guilty on Jan. 3 of this year, admitting that he crossed a state line with intent to engage in a sexual act with a minor. The sentencing hearing will be completed at 2:30 p.m. on Oct 21, 2014, when restitution and special conditions of supervised release will be imposed.

“For over five years, [Pyle] was entrusted with the efforts of the McHemy County Sheriff’s Office to protect children from exploitation and abuse. When he knew he was under investigation, [Pyle] successfully obstructed investigators determining the full scope of his criminal conduct,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael D. Love argued in requesting a 50-year sentence.

In pleading guilty, Pyle admitted that on Dec. 13, 2008, he had custody of a child under 12 years of age, when he drove the child from Crystal Lake, Ill. to Milwaukee, Wis., intending to engage in sexual acts with the child and to produce visual depictions of the sexual conduct. Pyle admitted that he stayed overnight in a Milwaukee hotel and engaged in sexual acts with the child that were sadistic, masochistic, and violent. The defendant produced images of the child engaged in these sexual acts and later distributed the images over the Internet.

Traveling Vice Lords Gang Leader Sentenced for Murdering @Chicago_Police Detective

A high-ranking leader of the Traveling Vice Lords street gang who directed a violent west side drug-trafficking conspiracy was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison after a judge ruled that he “very likely” murdered an off-duty Chicago police detective and a woman in August 2008.

“Your drug trafficking activities were a scourge on your community,” Judge Lefkow said.


The judge also ruled that the government met its burden in proving by a preponderance of evidence that it was “very likely” that Austin committed the murders of Det. Robert Soto and Kathryn Romberg on Aug. 13, 2008, and then subsequently attempted to obstruct the murder investigation. The victims were shot as they sat in a parked car in the 3000 block of West Franklin, about three blocks east Kedzie and one block south of Ohio. During a sentencing hearing that began last month, the government presented evidence that Austin shot and killed the pair after mistaking them from for a rival drug dealer and the drug dealer’s companion.

“We are gratified that the Court found Austin responsible for the murders of Detective Soto and Ms. Romberg. Jason Austin is a violent drug dealer, and today’s 35-year sentence provides a modest measure of justice,” said Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

“Jason Austin sold heroin and crack cocaine in the area of Kedzie and Ohio for years. He ran the block, had employees who worked for him, and he sold thousands of dollars of heroin a day. Austin controlled his territory through fear, violence, and threats of violence. He kept guns at the ready to stave off the competition. Austin thought of Kedzie and Ohio as his,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Maribel Fernandez-Harvath and Matthew Madden argued in seeking a significant sentence.

Austin and 30 other members and associates of the Traveling Vice Lords were arrested in November 2010 as part of Operation Blue Knight, which focused on around-the-clock retail street sales of crack cocaine and heroin in the area of Kedzie and Ohio, known as “KO.” Significant amounts of crack cocaine and heroin were seized during the two-year investigation, which the Chicago Police Department’s Organized Crime Division began in 2008 and the Federal Bureau of Investigation joined several months later. Overall, their efforts resulted in a total of 104 defendants being arrested on state and federal charges in this and related investigations.

The evidence at trial showed that Austin conspired with others to distribute heroin to customers via hand-to-hand transactions in the “KO.” The heroin, named “Blue Magic,” alone accounted for as much as $8,000 a day in sales, between approximately 6 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days a week. During the investigation, law enforcement officers repeatedly observed the conduct of co-conspirators at KO. Surveillance, often video recorded, documented hand-to-hand drug transactions, controlled purchases of narcotics by undercover Chicago police officers, and controlled purchases of narcotics by confidential sources.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Author of "S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C.", @RCastanedaWP, will appear tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

Ruben Casteneda, author of "S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C." will appear tonight on Crime Beat Radio.

An award-winning journalist’s gritty, redeeming, page-turning memoir of a city on the brink.

During the height of the crack epidemic that decimated the streets of DC, Ruben Castaneda covered the crime beat for the Washington Post. The first in his family to graduate from college, he had landed a job at one of the country’s premier newspapers. But his apparent success masked a devastating secret: he was a crack addict. Even as he covered the drug-fueled violence that was destroying large swaths of the city, he was prowling S Street, a 24-7 open-air crack market, during his off hours, looking for his next fix.

Castaneda’s remarkable book, S Street Rising, is more than a memoir; it’s a portrait of a city in crisis. It’s the adrenalin-infused story of the street where Castaneda quickly became a regular, and where a fledgling church led by a charismatic and streetwise pastor was protected by the local drug kingpin, a dangerous man who followed an old-school code of honor. It’s the story of Castaneda’s friendship with an exceptional police homicide commander whose career was derailed when he ran afoul of Mayor Marion Barry and his political cronies. And it’s a study of the city itself as it tried to rise above the bloody crack epidemic and the corrosive politics of the Barry era. S Street Rising is “The Wire” meets the Oscar-winning movie Crash. And it’s all true.

Crime Beat is a weekly hour-long radio program that airs every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST. Crime Beat presents fascinating topics that bring listeners closer to the dynamic underbelly of the world of crime. Guests have included ex-mobsters, undercover law enforcement agents, sports officials, informants, prisoners, drug dealers and investigative journalists, who have provided insights and fresh information about the world’s most fascinating subject: crime.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Community Oriented Policing Services Outlines Best Practices for Use of Body-Worn Cameras for Police Officers

The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office) released Implementing a Body-Worn Camera Program: Recommendations and Lessons Learned. The report analyzes some of the costs and benefits of law enforcement using body-worn video technology.

“Law enforcement agencies across the nation are contemplating how best to use body-worn cameras and these guidelines will help them weight the costs and benefits,” said COPS Office Director Ronald L. Davis. “There are many considerations when implementing a body-worn camera and this report will help chiefs and sheriffs make the best decision for their jurisdiction.”

The publication was developed jointly by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) and COPS through a cooperative agreement under the FY 2013 Community Policing Development Program. PERF conducted research on the use of body-worn cameras, identified promising practices and lessons learned from the field, and produced a set of guidelines for agencies interested in implement a body-worn camera program. Included in this effort was a one-day executive session with more than 200 police chiefs, sheriffs, scholars, representatives from federal criminal justice agencies, and other experts present to share experiences and lessons learned about body-worn cameras, to identify promising practices from the field, and to engage in a dialogue about the issues surrounding cameras.

The publication reviews the perceived benefits of body-worn cameras and considerations surrounding body-worn cameras before proposing a set of comprehensive policy recommendations that reflect the promising practices and lessons that emerged from PERF’s conference and its extensive discussions with police executives and other experts following the conference.

The policy recommendations cover all aspects of what a police department should consider when deciding to use body cameras including:


  • Basic camera usage, such as who will be assigned to wear the cameras and where on the body the cameras are authorized to be placed;
  • Recording protocols, including when to activate the camera, when to turn it off, and the types of circumstances in which recording is required, allowed or prohibited;
  • The process for downloading recorded data from the camera, including who is responsible for downloading, when data must be downloaded, where data will be stored, and how to safeguard against data tampering or deletion;
  • The length of time recorded data will be retained by the agency in various circumstances;
  • The process and policies for accessing and reviewing recorded data, including the persons authorized to access data and the circumstances in which recorded data can be reviewed; and
  • Policies for releasing recorded data to the public, including protocols regarding redactions and responding to public disclosure requests.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Turkish Airlines to Upgrade Chicago Route Planes to Boeing 777-300 Beginning in May 2015

Turkish Airlines, recently voted Europe’s Best Airline for the fourth year in a row, will upgrade its Chicago route planes from Airbus A330-200 to Boeing 777-300 starting in May 2015. Thanks to the airline’s continuous growth, the much-anticipated upgrade will expand Business Class seating capacity to 49 luxurious seats and the Economy Class seating capacity to 300.

With the upgradeTurkish Airlines to Upgrade Chicago Route Planes to Boeing 777-300 Beginning in May 2015, free Wi-Fi will be offered to Business Class passengers, and Live TV option will be available with BBC World, Sky News Arabic, Euronews and Sport 24, along with the airline’s unparalleled in-flight service and award-winning cuisine.

Chicago, one of Turkish Airlines’ six U.S. gateways, continues to thrive in the highly competitive travel industry. Recognized as one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, Turkish Airlines currently flies to 260 destinations in 108 countries – more than any other airline.

In addition, the airline currently offers spectacular roundtrip airfare deals out of Chicago for this fall – especially for travel hotspot, Istanbul – the number one destination worldwide in TripAdvisor’s 2014 Travelers’ Choice awards!

Friday, September 12, 2014

LaPorte County Deputy Auditor Charged with Embezzlement and Tax Fraud

A former LaPorte County deputy auditor has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Indiana for embezzling over $150,000 from the LaPorte County government and committing tax fraud.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David Capp of the Northern District of Indiana made the announcement.

The indictment returned on Sept. 10, 2014, charges Mary Ray, 66, of La Porte, Indiana, with two counts each of theft of government monies and of making false statements on a tax return.

According to the indictment, from September 2011 through December 2012 and while she was working as an auditor, Ray embezzled more than $5,000 from LaPorte County, which had received more than $10,000 in federal benefits in both 2011 and 2012.

The indictment also alleges that Ray underreported her income on her U.S. Individual Tax Returns in 2011 and 2012 by failing to report the embezzled funds.

An #EastSideBloods Gang Member Sentenced to 30 Years in Prison for Racketeering Conspiracy, Attempted Murder and Firearms Charges

An East Side Bloods (ESB) gang member from Scottsdale, Arizona, was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison for his role in the violent street gang, which operated on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community reservation.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney John S. Leonardo of the District of Arizona made the announcement after the sentence was imposed by U.S. District Court Judge David G. Campbell of the District of Arizona.

Denicio Elrayno Francisco, 28, a long-time member of East Side Bloods, was convicted by a jury on Oct. 31, 2013, of conspiracy to participate in a pattern of racketeering activity, attempted murder in aid of racketeering and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.

According to evidence presented at trial, from August 2004 through January 2013, the ESB was a criminal street gang, which perpetuated itself and enriched its members through activities such as murder, robbery, aggravated assault, fraudulent “straw” purchases of firearms and the distribution of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine. The gang preserved and protected its power on the reservation and adjoining communities through the use of intimidation, violence, assault, drive-by shootings and murder. The gang also retaliated with violence and threats of violence against victims who contacted law enforcement to report the gang-related crimes.

Evidence at trial demonstrated that Francisco arranged a meeting with a member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, ostensibly to discuss some gang-related conflicts on the reservation. On Nov. 23, 2012, Francisco arrived at the meeting with two other armed ESB members wearing gang colors. He stepped out of his car, yelled a gang slogan and opened fire with an AK-47 assault rifle toward the intended victim. Those present with the intended victim included a five-month-old baby, the wheelchair-bound homeowner, and seven other adults. The intended victim was struck by a bullet in the left forearm, resulting in permanent injury. Testimony at trial also showed that Francisco committed the attempted murder to maintain his position and increase his status within the ESB.

In addition to the prison term imposed, Francisco was also sentenced to serve five years of supervised release.

The defendant’s brother, Martinez Francisco Jr., 31, was also convicted at the same trial and was sentenced on Feb. 10, 2014, to serve 30 years in prison for participating in a racketeering conspiracy and illegal firearms trafficking. Eight additional gang members who entered guilty pleas in the case were previously sentenced to terms ranging from 27 to 156 months in federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Arizona Department of Public Safety’s Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission (GIITEM), the Mesa Police Department, the Salt River Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Substantial assistance was provided by the FBI, Scottsdale Police Department and Tempe Police Department.

The case was prosecuted by Hans Miller of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Keith E. Vercauteren of the District of Arizona.