Two Cook County Men Charged with Burglary from Oak Brook Ulta Beauty store

By Ann Nguyen, The Chicago Times

March 24, 2023

OAK BROOK, IL –  Two Cook County men have been charged in the robbery of an Oak Brook Ulta Beauty store on Thursday.

According to prosecutors, on March 23, 2023, at approximately 6:00 pm, Oak Brook police responded to a retail theft call at an Ulta Beauty store located at 2155 22nd Street.  Through their investigation, police said Kovadis Stewert, 29, of the 5900 block of Paulina Street, Chicago, and Antwan Davis, 46, of the 1600 block of S. St. Louis, Chicago, allegedly stole perfume from the store.  Allegedly, Davis entered the store alone and went directly to the fragrance section, removed a tote bag he had brought with him and filled it with nine fragrances, valued at $1,250.27.  Davis then allegedly left the store without paying for the items and entered a getaway vehicle driven by Stewert.  It is alleged that the two suspects then fled the scene.

Kovadis Stewert and Antwan Davis. Photo: DuPage County State’s Attorney.

Police said they located the vehicle a short distance away and attempted to conduct a traffic stop.  It is alleged that Stewert eluded officers and led them on a high speed chase on Butterfield Road reaching speeds of approximately 78 mph in a 35-mph zone.  Police said the vehicle was stopped at I-290 and Mannheim Road after officers deployed spike-strips. Both men were arrested at this time.

Both defendants are charged with one felony count of burglary, one felony count of class 3 and class 4 retail theft.  Stewart has also been charged with one felony count of aggravated fleeing and eluding police.

“This is the third time this week that law enforcement in DuPage County found themselves involved in a high-speed chase.  This is also the third time this week that following a high-speed chase, the alleged offenders were taken into custody. These high-speed pursuits must end. We have been lucky so far, but I fear it is only a matter of time before someone gets injured or worse. The criminal behavior alleged against these two men clearly displays their complete disregard for public safety and the rule of law and will not be tolerated in DuPage County.” Robert Berlin, DuPage County State’s Attorney said  in a press release.

Davis and Stewert are scheduled for arraignment in April of 2023 in front of Judge Telander.

Former Chicago Public Schools Employee Skates on 18 Months of Probation

By James R. Scott, The Chicago Times

March 21, 2023

CHICAGO – A former Chicago Public Schools employee has been sentenced to 18 months of probation after pleading guilty to one count of making false statements to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to federal prosecutors, Pedro Soto, 48, of Chicago, admitted in a plea agreement that he intentionally misled the FBI while the agency was conducting a criminal investigation into Soto’s interactions with a lobbyist and the lobbyist’s colleague regarding the awarding of a custodial services contract valued at approximately $1 billion.  

Soto, a former member of a CPS evaluation committee that was tasked in 2016 with recommending to the Chicago Board of Education which company or companies CPS should hire to perform the services, and the lobbyist and the lobbyist’s colleague were assisting one of the companies bidding for the contract.  Soto admitted that he repeatedly provided non-public information to the lobbyist’s colleague concerning the award of the contract in exchange for  promised benefits extended to Soto.  Soto further admitted that in 2019 he knowingly made false statements to the FBI when he denied having provided the lobbyist’s colleague with inside information about the awarding of the contract.

On March 16, 2023, Soto was sentenced by a US District Court Judge along with an additional $3,000 fine and 100 hours of community service.

Boeing to Produce 184 Apaches for U.S. Army and Allies

By Gus G. Manion, The Chicago Times

March 18, 2023

ARLINGTON, VA – Boeing announced Friday that it will produce 184 AH-64E Apaches for the US Army and international customers.  According to Boeing, this $1.9 billion award brings the total current funded value of the contract to $2.1 billion.

“We are enhancing the U.S. Army’s attack fleet, while supporting additional partner nations and welcoming our newest Apache customer, the Australian Army,” said Christina Upah, vice president of Attack Helicopter Programs.

Boeing will deliver 115 re-manufactured Apaches to the US Army, with an additional 15 Apaches to be procured as options.  The remaining 54 aircraft will be delivered to partner nations as part of Foreign Military Sales.

“This multi-year contract is critical for the warfighter and the entire Apache team.  It demonstrates the Army’s commitment to continue putting unmatched capability into the hands of our nation’s finest, while providing stability and predictability for the outstanding citizens and companies that pour their talent into producing the best attack helicopter in the world.” said Col. John Maher, U.S. Army Apache project manager.

As expected, Boeing Global Services will continue to provide training devices, spare provisions, support and test equipment kits, depot support, field engineering, and technical manuals.  

Since 2017, Boeing has delivered 244 re-manufactured Apaches to the Army and 24 new-build aircraft to an international customer.  According to Boeing, there are more than 1,275 Apaches currently in operation around the world.

Chicago Department of Public Health to Test Wastewater for Polio

By Gary Parker, The Chicago Times

March 17, 2023

CHICAGO – The Chicago Department of Public Health announced today that it will expand its existing wastewater surveillance program to include testing for poliovirus.  

CDPH said wastewater testing began this week to analyze water samples collected from area reclamation plants that serve the City of Chicago and surrounding Cook County suburbs.  The surveillance program is partnership between CDPH and the University of Illinois Chicago, the Regional Innovative Public Health Laboratory at Rush University Medical Center, the University of Illinois System’s Discovery Partner Institute, the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

As part of this surveillance, wastewater samples will be collected on a routine basis and laboratory testing to see if poliovirus is present in area wastewater.

It should be noted, while no case of paralytic polio has been identified in Chicago or Illinois at this time, CDPH is proactively building its local capacity to detect and respond to any potential cases of polio.

“Polio has been eradicated in the US since 1979; however, a recent case in 2022 in New York State highlights the importance of rapid detection to interrupt any new outbreaks and strengthen routine immunization, which is the best national defense against polio.” said CDPH Deputy Commissioner Massimo Pacilli.  

Polio can lead to permanent paralysis of the arms and legs and can be fatal due to paralysis in the muscles used to breathe or swallow.  Symptoms include sore throat, fever, tiredness, nausea, and stomach pain.  According to CDPH, 1 in 25 people with poliovirus infection will get meningitis and about 1 in 200 will become paralyzed.  Most people are vaccinated against polio during childhood in the United States and studies suggest people who completed their polio vaccination during childhood are likely protected throughout adulthood. 

Geneva Man Pleads Guilty to Fatal Aurora DUI Crash

By Kathy Whitaker, The Chicago Times

March 17, 2023

AURORA, IL – A Geneva man pleaded guilty on Thursday for his role in a DUI crash that killed a Maywood resident and injured two other men.

According to prosecutors, on March 7, 2022, at approximately 7:40 pm, Aurora police officers responded to a crash on northbound Eola Road.  On scene, police discovered Willie Mosley, of Maywood, Illinois, suffering from serious injuries after being pinned between a vehicle and truck.  Mosley was later pronounced dead at an area hospital.  Two other men suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Nicholas Roepke. Photo: DuPage County State’s Attorney.

After further investigation, it was discovered that Nicholas Roepke, 30, of the 0N200 block of Dooley Dr, had crashed his vehicle into a truck being used by Mosely and another man to transport a refrigerator.  Before the fatal crash, Mosely and another man had pulled over to reload the refrigerator that had fallen off the truck.  A third man had pulled over to help reload the refrigerator.  According to Aurora police, Roepke’s blood alcohol concentration was .214 per a test taken shortly after the crash.

“Just over one year ago, Willie Mosley’s life came to a violent, abrupt end simply because Mr. Roepke, with a stunning disregard for not only his own personal safety, but also the safety of innocent others, got behind the wheel after he had been drinking.  Driving is a privilege, not a right. It is a privilege and a responsibility that if not respected, can lead to tragic, irreversible outcomes, as we saw in this case. There are no words I can offer to the family and friends of Mr. Mosley that will fill the void caused by his absence.” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement.

Roepke pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated DUI causing death and one felony count of aggravated DUI causing great bodily harm. 

Roepke faces up to fourteen years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. 

Near West Side Land Deal Would Enable Fifth Third Arena Expansion

By Brooks M. Deering, The Chicago Times

March 15, 2023

CHICAGO – A land deal involving the former Malcom X College site on the Near West Side would pave the way for the Chicago Blackhawks to expand its Fifth Third Arena training complex while also generating $5.9 million for the planned Sankofa Wellness Village in West Garfield Park.

Under a proposal introduced to City Council today by outgoing Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot would allow RUSH University Medical Center to sell the former City-owned property at 303 S. Damen Ave. to the Chicago Blackhawks for $23.5 million. 

“By acquiring this parcel from RUSH and expanding on the Fifth Third Arena complex, the Blackhawks will activate a large piece of land that has sat vacant for far too long in an area that has seen a high volume of development over the past decade.  This transaction is a win-win for two West Side neighborhoods: the Near West Side, which will benefit from this land being developed and West Garfield Park, which will benefit from the additional funding that will go to the new Sankofa Wellness Village.” Lightfoot said in a statement.

RUSH acquired the vacant seven-acre site from the City in 2017 for $17.5 million through a redevelopment agreement to construct a mixed-use medical complex.  Since then, RUSH determined the property is no longer viable for the project per their strategic vision and is instead making it available for sale, which requires City approval.  

According to the proposal, the Blackhawks would purchase the site to expand its adjacent Fifth Third hockey complex.  The $65 million, 135,000-square-foot expansion is planned to include two hockey rinks for use by the team and other hockey clubs and provide some 180 parking spaces pending City Council zoning approval.

“I’m pleased to see this land finally slated for development.  The Blackhawks’ expansion of the Fifth Third Arena practice facility will make the surrounding neighborhood safer and create more job opportunities for residents.” said Ald. Walter Burnett of the 27th ward. 

The proposed agreement also includes a provision for any proceeds above RUSH’s acquisition and holding costs to be set aside for the planned Sankofa Wellness Village at 4301 W. Madison St.  

“RUSH believes the sale of this land is an opportunity that will benefit the people of Chicago’s West Side.  If approved by the City, net excess proceeds from the land sale would be reinvested into RUSH-aligned charitable community programs, specifically the Sankofa Wellness Village in West Garfield Park.  The Sankofa Wellness Village will be a hub of community health and wellness. It will help make real strides in improving health and reducing the life expectancy gap on the West Side.” said RUSH spokesperson Tobin Klinger.

The $50 million Sankofa project will include 60,000 square feet of health care services, wellness programs, childcare, financial services, job training, and entrepreneurial support.