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Chicago Crime Commission honors outstanding crime fighters

Chicago DEA head Jack Riley to outline new strategies for addressing violent gang-related crimes in Chicago 

CHICAGO, Nov. 7, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Chicago Crime Commission will hold its Stars of Distinction, 2012 Awards Dinner tonight to recognize outstanding individual and organizational contributions in fighting crime.  Drug Enforcement Administration, Chicago Field Division Special Agent in Charge, Mr. Jack Riley will be the keynote speaker at the event.  Riley will discuss the formation of the new Chicago Strike Force, comprised of federal, state and local law enforcement, and their plans for addressing violent gang-related crime in Chicago.  Specifically, SAC Riley will outline their strategy for focusing on the choke point where drug cartel and gang members interact.

The program will feature eight awards presented to individuals and the organizations they serve in recognition of their outstanding work in law enforcement.  The Chicago Crime Commission will also present the fifth annual Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award to Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow for his efforts in the successful prosecution of the Drew Peterson case. 

Additionally, a highlight of the evening will be the presentation of the Paws of Distinction K-9 Unit Award to DEA Special Agent Robert Glynn and his canine partner Rudy for law enforcement excellence.

"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 heroes who put their lives on the line every day and celebrate the victories they have won," according to J.R. Davis, President and Chairman of the Chicago Crime Commission.                                              

"The Stars of Distinction, 2012 Awards Dinner is a chance to honor those whose efforts have been instrumental in the successful pursuit of justice.  It is an opportunity for us to thank them and celebrate their outstanding achievements along with their family, friends, and colleagues," Davis added.

Awards presented and recipients of the Stars of Distinction Awards will include:

The Chicago Crime Commission Law Enforcement Excellence Award is presented to Sergeant David Cammack of the Cook County Sheriff's Police in recognition of his lifesaving heroics.

On May 10, 2012, Sgt. Dave Cammack responded to a shots fired/man down call in Ford Heights, Illinois.  Upon arriving at the scene, he and his fellow officers found a man who was having difficulty breathing after suffering several gunshot wounds to his chest from a small caliber firearm.  Fortunately, Sgt. Cammack is a licensed Emergency Medical Technician, and he assisted in attending to the man's wounds by placing what is called an Asherman Chest Seal on the victim.  His quick reaction saved a man's life. 

The Chicago Crime Commission Law Enforcement Excellence by a Task Force in the Area of Violent Street Gangs Award is presented to the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Special Agents Scott R. Davis, Holly M. Barille and Stephanie Lambert; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives – Special Agent Christopher L. Bayless; the United States Attorney's Office – Assistant United States Attorneys Meghan Morrisey Stack and Jessica Romero.

The Belizean Bloods street gang was identified as an emerging threat in both Chicago and Salt Lake City, Utah.  A gang faction aligned with the Black P Stone Nation's north side and south side factions prompted the Joint Task Force on Gangs to quell the potential rise of yet another street gang in Chicago.  Operation Black Orchid and Operation Bloodhound, investigations into the operations of the Belizean Bloods street gang, were subsequently launched.

After probable cause was established, the law enforcement team executed a coordinated arrest of 60 Belizean Bloods members and associates in Chicago and Salt Lake City in November of last year, as well as the seizure of large quantities of cocaine and cash.  The concurrent investigations effectively dismantled the leadership and narcotics supply chain of the Belizean Bloods and was a true example of effective law enforcement teamwork.  The cases are currently being prosecuted by the Assistant United States Attorney's Office.

The Chicago Crime Commission Law Enforcement Excellence by a Task Force in the Area of Illegal Weapons Award is presented to the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Special Agents Christopher Hedges and Scott Holladay; the Chicago Police Department – Task Force Officer Robert Smith; the United States Attorney's Office – Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsay Jenkins; the Attorney General's Office – Assistant Attorney General Christina Mahoney in recognition of their outstanding collaboration and performance combating the Imperial Gangsters and the removal of illegal weapons in "Operation Mousetrap."

After a two year investigation, a large-scale search and arrest operation was conducted, resulting in the arrests of 29 Imperial Gangster members on June 12th, 2012.  Along with a small amount of narcotics, investigators seized over 30 firearms.  All members were charged with significant state and federal drug and weapons crimes, severely limiting the gang's ability to operate in the 14th and 25th districts.  The case is currently being tried by the U.S. Attorney's Office and Attorney General's Office.

This case illustrates the long-standing commitment by Chicago law enforcement agencies to pursue gun crimes, especially when they intersect with drug trafficking.  The life of a gun is very long, and the tragedy it can inflict is infinite.  Removing these illegal firearms and the criminals using them from the city's streets will have a significant impact upon the safety of all of Chicago.

The Chicago Crime Commission Law Enforcement Excellence by a Task Force in the Area of Illegal Narcotics Award is presented to the Drug Enforcement Administration – Special Agents Timothy J. Oko and Jay R. Borns; the Federal Bureau of Investigation ­– Special Agents Eric J. McIntosh and Franklin Nivar; the Chicago Police Department – Task Force Officer David Bird; the United States Attorney's Office – Assistant U.S. Attorneys Greg Deis, William Ridgway, and Heather McShain for their work on Operation Gas Leak.

Operation Gas Leak was a joint investigation conducted by the DEA, FBI, CPD and the U.S. Attorney's Office.  It targeted the Zetas Drug Trafficking Organization, one of the most violent drug cartels operating out of Mexico, Texas, and the Chicago metropolitan area. Once the team secured the cooperation of an individual associated with the Zetas money laundering operation, the team was able to conduct surveillance and verify money collected from drug transactions in Chicago.

The evidence gathered enabled the team to gain permission to intercept cell phone conversations, use wiretaps, extreme surveillance, and tracking devices.  The subsequent seizures occurred in April and June of 2010 and included over $14.5 million in cash, 246 kilograms of cocaine, 55,080 grams of marijuana, and 2 pounds of methamphetamine, and resulted in the arrests of 20 Zetas members.  After their indictment by the U.S. Attorney's Office in November 2011, 15 of these subjects were arrested in a coordinated takedown, and law enforcement made additional seizures of $440,000 in cash, over two kilograms of black tar heroin, and ½ of a gram of cocaine. 

The Chicago Crime Commission Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement is presented to Robert Grant, former FBI Special Agent in Charge for the Chicago Field Office.

Former FBI Special Agent in Charge, Mr. Robert Grant began his career as a special agent with the FBI on November 13, 1983 and immediately distinguished himself as an outstanding crime fighter.

In 1989, Mr. Grant was promoted to supervisory special agent in the Inspection Division at FBI Headquarters. Mr. Grant was tasked to conduct several special internal investigations.  Mr. Grant served as principle investigator assigned to evaluate allegations of criminal and ethical violations of FBI Director William S. Sessions. The investigation resulted in the dismissal of Director Sessions by President William J. Clinton in 1994.

In 1994, Mr. Grant was promoted to the Chicago Field Office, where he supervised health care fraud, public corruption investigations and other white-collar crimes.  He also served as the field office white-collar crime coordinator and as acting assistant special agent in charge of the white-collar crime and administrative operations programs. While assigned to Chicago, Mr. Grant led a Health Care Fraud Task Force that developed innovative new techniques for use in the employment of undercover operations.

After a stint in San Antonio and Washington, Mr. Grant was promoted to Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Chicago Field Office in 2005.  Since assuming leadership of the office, Mr. Grant has overseen several significant investigations, including the arrest of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges, the racketeering indictment and conviction of numerous high-ranking members of the Chicago Outfit as part of the "Family Secrets" trial, and the arrest of two Chicago men on charges related to the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, India.

The Chicago Crime Commission Law Enforcement Gang Expertise Award is presented to Cook County Sheriff's Deputy Franco Domma

Investigator Domma has worked as a Gang Unit Investigator for 13 years at the Cook County Sheriff's Office.  He has become the "go-to" person for the Chicago Police Department when it comes to developing or elaborating information obtained from Cook County Jail. 

He has been the catalyst behind much of the information often forwarded to the Chicago HIDTA Office from Cook County Criminal Intelligence Unit.  Domma has worked with numerous Law Enforcement agencies and assisted in numerous investigations, all of which he conducted with his usual enthusiasm and dedication.  His knowledge of gangs and willingness to share that information was critical to publishing the Chicago Crime Commission's recent edition of The Gang Book.

The Chicago Crime Commission would like to extend its gratitude for Investigator Domma's generous willingness to work as the essential gang knowledge base needed in the publication of the Commission's recent edition of The Gang Book

The Chicago Crime Commission Prosecutorial Merit Award is presented to the Federal Bureau of Investigation ­– Special Agent Mark Quinn of the Violent Crime Task Force, Special Agent Edward McNamara of the Organized Crime Squad, Special Agent Mark Sofia of the Special Operations Group; the LaGrange Police Department – Lieutenant Christopher Noel; the United States Attorney's Office – Assistant U.S. Attorneys Amarjeet S. Bhachu and Stephen P. Baker.

This case recognizes the successful prosecution of Chicago Outfit members Joseph Scalise, Robert Pullia and Arthur Rachel.  Known as the "Wild Bunch", the Outfit relied on this crew to commit murder if needed.

The FBI Organized Crime Squad, Violent Crime Task Force, and Special Operations Group initiated intensive cover surveillance of the defendants in the fall of 2009 and continued over the course of many months.  These agents partnered with several local law enforcement officers who helped obtain the information needed for court authorization to install a listening device inside a van utilized by one of the defendants.  Based on the conversations that were intercepted, agents moved in and arrested the defendants before they attempted to break into a residential dwelling on the south side of Chicago.

The U.S. Attorney's Office charged the defendants with racketeering conspiracy, interference with commerce by robbery, possession of firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm. Scalise and Pullia pled guilty and face 9-10 years in prison, and Rachel was eventually convicted and sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison.

The Chicago Crime Commission Prosecutorial Spotlight Award is presented to the Cook County State's Attorney's Office Assistant State's Attorney Jim McKay, Assistant State's Attorney Veryl Gambino and Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Bagby.

The case of People v. William Balfour garnered national interest because the victims were relatives of celebrity singer and actress, Jennifer Hudson.  The level of interest also meant that the prosecution team's every move was scrutinized. 

The Cook County prosecutors were faced not only with inevitable media attention but also with a case that produced no eyewitness and no confessions.  They had to rely largely on circumstantial evidence, such as cellular telephone technology that was used to track Balfour's location at relevant times during the crime.  The prosecutors also struggled with having to rely upon reluctant witnesses to testify against Balfour.

Despite all of these challenges the prosecution persevered.  A jury convicted William Balfour of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced him to natural life in prison without the possibility of parole. 

The Chicago Crime Commission Mitchell A. Mars Prosecutorial Excellence Award is presented to Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow for his outstanding effort in the prosecution of former Bolingbrook police sergeant Drew Peterson in the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio.

After nearly two years of litigation before the Third District Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court, State's Attorney Glasgow and his team were granted a ruling that would change the course of the case.

 In April 2012 the Third District Appellate Court effectively overturned Judge Stephen White's earlier decision by ruling that the prosecution team could use eight statements made by both the victim prior to her death and by Peterson's still-missing fourth wife, Stacy, prior to her disappearance.

The Peterson prosecution was a five-year process that involved a number of groundbreaking initiatives.  The Will County State's Attorney's Office conducted an 18-month Special Grand Jury investigation following the disappearance of Stacy Peterson.  In addition, State's Attorney Glasgow filed a petition to exhume the body of Kathleen Savio, after which second and third autopsies revealed compelling new evidence that assisted him in proving she was murdered and not the victim of a slip-and-fall accident.

State's Attorney Glasgow also worked with the General Assembly to draft and enact new legislation that placed the concept of "forfeiture by wrongdoing" into the Illinois criminal rules of evidence.  Forfeiture by wrongdoing enables prosecutors to enter relative and probative hearsay statements into evidence if they can prove a defendant killed a witness to prevent him or her from testifying.  The Illinois Supreme Court eventually adopted the common law doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing in its decision regarding a DuPage County murder case and then adopted the federal rules on forfeiture by wrongdoing.

On September 6, 2012 after a lengthy and contentious trial, a jury convicted Drew Peterson of the first-degree murder of Kathleen Savio.  He currently awaits sentencing. 

The Chicago Crime Commission PAWS of Distinction Award is presented to DEA Special Agent Robert Glynn and K9 Partner Rudy.

This award recognizes the invaluable service that canine units lend to law enforcement.  The 2012 recipients prove that these highly trained companions and their handlers very much deserve recognition for preventing and solving crimes, a task that would be much more difficult if not impossible without their unique collaboration. 

This year the award goes to an officer-canine duo that, since February 2006, have seized more than $35 million in cash, over 925 kilograms of cocaine, two kilograms of crack cocaine, 40 kilograms of heroin, 13 kilograms of MDMA, four kilograms of methamphetamines, and approximately one ton of marijuana.

This duo proves once again that dogs are indeed man's best friend, even in crime fighting.

John Pastuovic
312-372-0101 X 240

SOURCE Chicago Crime Commission

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