The Chicago Crime Commission held its Stars of Distinction, 2016 Awards Dinner to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions in fighting crime. Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson was the keynote speaker at the event.
The program featured eight awards presented to individuals and the organizations they serve in recognition of their outstanding work in law enforcement. The recipients of the Stars of Distinction awards exemplify the commitment of all law enforcement in their efforts to fight crime in Chicago.
"While gang members and other criminals provide an unending threat to our safety and security, it is important to recognize the individuals who put their lives on the line every day and celebrate the victories they have won," according to J.R. Davis, Chairman and President of the Chicago Crime Commission.
"The Stars of Distinction, 2016 Awards Dinner is a chance to honor those whose efforts have been instrumental in the successful pursuit of justice. It is also an opportunity for us to thank them and celebrate their outstanding achievements along with their family, friends, and colleagues," he added.
Awards presented and recipients of the Stars of Distinction Awards included:
LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD
Because of an ongoing war between Killa Ward Gangster Disciples and the Bang Bang Gang Black P Stones (BBG), 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee was murdered on November 2, 2015. The offenders – Corey Morgan, Dwright Doty and Kevin Edwards – all BBG members, were driving around the neighborhood, including Dawes Park, looking for Tyshawn's father, Pierre Stokes, a ranking member of the Killa Ward Gangster Disciples. The offenders entered Dawes Park and talked to several young teens playing basketball. They spotted Tyshawn across the park nearby on a swing. The offenders then lured Tyshawn into an alley with the promise to take him to the store for treats. However, in the alley, offender Doty shot Tyshawn in the head, hands and body. Immediately following the attack, Doty entered a car with the other offenders and fled the scene.
A few weeks after Tyshawn's murder, a task force was formed to investigate his murder and two other murders associated with the gang war in what was named "Operation Remember." The task force included members of the Chicago Police Department, CCDOC, FBI, HIDTA, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Because of the immense dedication and hard-work by the members of the task force, Tyshawn's murderers were charged.
The Chicago Crime Commission proudly honors the following individuals: Cook County State's Attorney's Office ASAs George Canellis, Daniel Reedy, Jaime Santini, Brian Holmes, Emily Stevens, Thomas Darman, Nicholas Trutenko; Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Anthony Grubisic; HIDTA Analyst Carrie Moe; CCDOC Executive Director Brad Curry, Executive Director Daniel Moreci, Investigator Franco Domma; Chicago Police Department Officer Matthew Kennedy, Detectives Keith Allen, John Murray, Timothy Murphy, Daniel Stover, Michael Cummings, Jeffrey Rodenberg, Arthur Davis, Melvin Branch, Donald Hill, Patrick Ford, Michael Chiocca, Brian Drees, David Garcia, and Sergeant Will Svilar.
LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD (STREET GANGS)
Through effective multi-jurisdictional partnerships, the DEA-led Chicago HIDTA Group 43 - Violent Gang Conspiracy Group - has been investigating an international Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO) believed to be affiliated with multiple Mexican based cartels including the Knights Templar, Jalisco New Generation, and Zetas.
This multi-agency operation, made possible only through strategic partnership, information sharing, and careful planning, yielded the successful seizure of vast amounts of bulk cash and narcotics in transit between Mexico and Chicago as well as the subsequent arrest of twelve defendants, including a high-ranking member of the Chicago based Spanish Cobras Street Gang.
This Group demonstrates the very real importance of effective collaboration between law enforcement agencies and officers. The Chicago Crime Commission is honored to announce the recipients of the Law Enforcement Task Force Excellence Award for their collaboration with multiple agencies to ensure the perpetrators of the TCO operation are brought to justice.
The Chicago Crime Commission proudly honors the following individuals: DEA Group Supervisor George S. Karountzos, Special Agents Jomarr Cintron, Craig Schwartz, Paul Park, Nicholas Albert, Fernando Gomez, Christopher Marshall; Task Force Officers Artyom Postupaka - Lisle PD, Brette Glomb – Darien PD, Kristopher Kush - Park Forest PD, Donald Stone - Glenwood PD, Phil Hahn - Chicago Heights PD, Sergeant Alonzo Harris - Chicago PD, Lafayette Triplett - Chicago PD, Angel Amador - Chicago PD, Edward Daniels - Chicago PD, Defonda Louie – Chicago PD; Customs and Border Protection Officer Jose Venegas; National Guard IRS Olivia X. Rivera; National Guard IRS Natalie Uchmanowicz; and DEA IRA Kristeena V. Jackson.
LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCELLENCE AWARD (WEAPONS)
Again, the Chicago Crime Commission would like to honor another incredible instance of effective inter-agency partnership within the law enforcement community. For a significant amount of time, guns have been plaguing the neighborhoods of Chicago. Through the tireless efforts of ICE, HIS Chicago, FIG, and local law enforcement departments, guns that would otherwise be used to perpetrate unconscionable acts have been taken off the streets of Chicago.
Through meticulous investigative techniques and strategies, the multi-agency task force seized two live hand grenades, one grenade launcher, five .50 caliber assault rifles, a .22 handgun with a silencer, 25 other assault style weapons, over 1,000 rounds of ammunition, six ballistic vests, and 1.5 kilograms of cocaine.
The trifecta of seizing guns, money, and drugs is indicative of the far-reaching tentacles of organized crime in our communities. The seizure and arrests of the subjects involved in perpetrating criminal acts is also telling of the hardworking and determined law enforcement members who collaborate each day to make our streets safer.
Based on the successful efforts of the task force, the Chicago Crime Commission is proud to announce the following recipients of the Law Enforcement Excellence Award: HIS Chicago Financial Investigations Group Special Agents Matt Daoud, Matt Gauder, Tino Gonzalez, Jan Markiewicz, Robert Melone, Stefanie Moton, Kenneth Popovits, Matthew Siffermann, Spencer Taub, David Vanderlaan, Criminal Research Specialist Maureen McDougall, Financial Analyst Louis Sastre; ICE Enforcement Removal Officer Frank Trevino, Task Force Officers Sami Alnemri – Chicago PD, Garrick Amschl – Olympia Fields PD, Juan Carrillo – Streamwood PD, David Dileto – New Lenox PD, Jose Gonzalez – Addison PD, Tom LaPak – Hoffman Estates PD, Joel Mantia – Will County Sheriff's Office, Daniel Raysby – DuPage County Sheriff's Office, Vicente Roman – Lombard PD, Bilos Thomas – Chicago PD; Kane County State's Attorney's Office First Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason, Assistant State's Attorney William Engerman; Kane County Sheriff's Office Bomb and Arson Unit Sergeant Kevin Tindall, Deputy Brad Zentmyer; Chicago Police Department Cage Team Police Officers Jacinta O'Driscoll, Robert Garcia, Enrico Dixon; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Group Supervisor Timothy Wilson, Special Agent Levi Tinder, Certified Explosives Specialist Tina Sherrow; Elgin Police Department's Special Investigations Unit Detective Sergeant Chris Jensen, Detectives Tom Wolek, Heather Robinson, Canine Officer Marshall Kite.
EXCELLENCE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT (ILLEGAL NARCOTICS)
Just over three years ago, the Chicago Crime Commission named Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman Loera of the Sinaloa Cartel as its Public Enemy Number 1. Despite El Chapo being imprisoned in Mexico, his cartel continues to perpetuate crimes that impact the Chicagoland area. The efforts of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), "Operation Tiburon" and "Operation Buzz Kill" – a joint state and federal investigation – have brought many members of El Chapo's gang enterprise to justice. Such individuals included many high-level members of the Sinaloa Cartel operating in multiple countries and multiple cities in the United States, including Chicago.
Through OCDETF's work they dismantled one of the largest drug trafficking organizations ever charged in Chicago, which was originally a simple Chicago street gang case. The Sinaloa Cartel supplied most of the heroin in the region and 1,500 – 2,000 kilograms of cocaine each month. To date, these investigations have resulted in federal indictments of 67 defendants, including Cartel leader Joaquin Guzman Loera and other high level Sinaloa targets, the seizure of over $32 million in U.S. currency, 3,100 kilograms of cocaine, 72 kilograms of heroin, 704 pounds of methamphetamine, 25 weapons, and 32 vehicles. In total, the investigation sought over $1.8 billion.
The perseverance of the dedicated and passionate law enforcement members again illustrates how impactful and powerful our collective efforts are in ensuring the safety of our communities. The Chicago Crime Commission honors those members of the OCDETF task force who strive each day to end the influx of guns, violence, and drugs into the Chicagoland area including: Drug Enforcement Administration Group Supervisor Todd C. Smith, Special Agents John Buonincontro, Billy Conrad, Louis Gade, Robert Fergus, Emilia Fernandez, Jessica Ipema, Matthew McCarthy, Christopher O'Reilly, Dorothy Sells, Jennifer Vann, Donald Wood; TFOs Craig Clark – Palos Heights PD, Teddy Fox – Chicago PD, Jennifer Guest - IRS-CID, James Healy - Evergreen Park PD, Jason Lippy - DEA Intelligence Research, Calvin Lucius - Calumet City PD, Chris Pedicini - Oak Park PD, Vincent Zehme - IRS-CID; DEA Investigative Assistant – Barbara Wynne; Christopher Hotaling, Chief of Narcotics – NDIL; Assistant U. S. Attorneys Michael Ferrera, Erika Csicsila, Lindsay Jenkins, Renai Rodney, Sean Franzblau, Kathryn Malizia, Angel Krull, Georgia Alexakis, and James Durkin.
MITCH MARS PROSECUTORIAL EXCELLENCE AWARD
Law enforcement includes a host of essential foundations within society, and among them is the successful prosecution of criminal activity. Effective prosecution of crime and criminals serves as a truly foundational element of a healthy, law-abiding, and thriving humanity, and the law enforcement professionals dedicated to this service make a difference every day.
On the night of September 27, 2006, Metra Police Officer Thomas Cook was working a detail at the Harvey Metra rail station. The detail was formed in response to multiple armed robberies at that location. As Officer Cook sat in his squad car, Jemetric Nicholson approached the car and shot Officer Cook two times in the head. Nicholson then took Officer Cook's service weapon and fled the scene. Over the course of the next several weeks, the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force, with the assistance of the Metra PD and the Harvey PD, led an investigation into Officer Cook's murder. The investigators followed up on hundreds of leads, executed search warrants, and interviewed dozens of people.
During the task force's investigation, they learned that Nicholson had shot two men as they stood in a car wash on the night of September 26, 2006, and that Nicholson and anther individual, Jeremy Lloyd, attempted a drive-by murder of rival gang members. As they fled that scene, Nicholson and Lloyd fired shots at a Harvey police officer. Furthermore, the task force learned that Nicholson shot a rival gang member in the face on October 2, 2006. Based on the task force's work, Lloyd was charged with First Degree Murder and agreed to testify against Nicholson in exchange for a sentencing recommendation of 20 years for murder and attempted murder of a police officer. In November 2010, Nicholson was charged with First Degree Murder in the death of Officer Cook.
Between 2011 and 2015, Nicholson was tried and convicted of attempted murder of five people in two separate shootings. He was sentenced to 125 years. Finally, in January 2016, Nicholson was convicted of First Degree Murder of Officer Cook. He was sentenced to Life in Prison. In all, five men were charged with violent crimes ranging from armed robbery to the murder of Officer Cook. Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of the investigators and prosecutors on the case, Officer Cook and his family received the justice they deserve.
The Chicago Crime Commission very proudly announces the recipients of the Mitch Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award: Cook County State's Attorney's Office Assistant State's Attorneys Joseph Kosman, Theodore Lagerwall, Cheryl Schroeder-Hagendorn, and Michael Golden.
LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN LAW ENFORCEMENT
The background and credentials of this year's Lifetime Achievement Award recipient stand and deserve tremendous commendation. Deputy Robert Skrypek began his career at the sheriff's office in May of 1995. Since then, he has served with honor in the following divisions: court security, highway patrol, tactical response team sniper, criminal investigations, warrants, cybercrimes unit, juvenile officer and field training unit.
During Deputy Skrypek's career, he helped track down Lake County's 10 Most Wanted fugitives, located parents who owed several thousands of dollars in back child support and managed approximately 180 registered sex offenders. Moreover, in 2006, he worked as a special investigator on a case involving the mayor of a local village in Lake County for distribution of child pornography. That case resulted in a conviction of the mayor for possession and distribution of child pornography.
The Chicago Crime Commission is proud to recognize these lifelong commitments and commends Deputy Skrypek for his many years of service and dedication to the law enforcement community and to the citizens of our country.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AWARD
This year, the Chicago Crime Commission added the Community Engagement Award to the evening's list of accolades. This award recognizes individuals and organizations that seek to significantly enhance the lives of others in the community and empower them to succeed.
In that spirit, this year's Community Engagement Award goes to Youth Guidance's Executive Director Michelle Morrison, Chairman Michael Crowley and Becoming a Man Founder Anthony Divittorio. Through their work, Youth Guidance championed and implemented the Becoming a Man (BAM) and Working on Womanhood (WOW) programs in Chicago with great success. The BAM program was launched to help young men navigate difficult circumstances that threaten their future. A safe space was created at Clemente High School for young men to openly express themselves, receive support and develop the social and emotional skills necessary to succeed. Now in its 15th year, the BAM program is set to serve 4,080 youth in 60-plus Chicagoland schools in the 2016-17 academic year. Specifically, BAM, which operates within many Chicago public schools in neighborhoods with high rates of gang violence, drugs and violence works on getting young men into their program before they're drawn into gang life or drop out of school. In June 2016 researchers from the University of Chicago Crime Lab released new findings from a randomized controlled trial evaluating the impact of BAM during the 2013-15 academic years. Findings show that BAM reduced violent crime arrests by 50 percent, reduced total arrests by 35 percent, and improved school engagement for male Chicago Public Schools students.
PAWS OF DISTINCTION AWARD
The final award this evening is always one of great interest, and despite its recipient being a canine, is nevertheless illustrative of an important and meaningful contribution in the law enforcement community.
This year the PAWS of Distinction Award goes to Deputy Somerville and his Deputy K-9, Diesel, of the Lake County Sheriff's Office. Diesel is a two-year old German Shepherd. Deputy Somerville and Diesel have been partners since completing an intensive 8-week training program together in June 2015. They have been inseparable since that time. Through their time together on the streets of Lake County, they have proven to be forces to be reckoned with. Though examples of their heroism are boundless, two necessitate sharing. After a report came in of an individual who was trying to commit suicide, was badly bleeding, and fled, Diesel picked up that individual's scent and tracked her through a heavily traveled trail. Diesel located the individual under some brush and alerted other officers of his findings. The individual was rushed to the hospital. Had it not been for Diesel, the individual may not have lived. Furthermore, Diesel assisted the North Chicago Police Department with a search for a bank robbery suspect who robbed a credit union at gun point. North Chicago PD dispatched Deputy Somerville and Diesel to assist them after the bank robbery suspect fled on bicycle and foot. Diesel tracked the suspect's scent found on the bicycle and went through yards and over fences before locating the suspect in a crawl space in the back of a house. Diesel commenced barking and growling once on site, and the suspect surrendered to North Chicago PD without incident or injury.
The Chicago Crime Commission is pleased to present this year's Paws of Distinction Award to Deputy Somerville and his canine partner, Diesel. Their deserving contributions have enhanced the quality and capacity of our criminal justice system.
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