Saturday, May 22, 2021

Crime News Update

      Editor's note: The crime news reported by the Southwest Chicago Post---taken directly from Chicago Police Department incident reports---is not by any means an exhaustive catalogue of all crime reported in the Chicago Lawn (8th) District. For example, it typically does not include news of crimes committed in the eastern sectors of the district---because the Southwest Chicago Post's coverage area is primarily the neighborhoods that border Midway Airport and secondarily because including the relatively large volume of crime news from elsewhere in the district would be a logistical challenge. We make this note to offer a little helpful perspective and remind everyone that while crime is definitely a concern in all parts of the district (as it always has been), crime remains relatively low overall in the western section of the district. May all of us work together diligently to keep it that way. May all of us also remember that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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West Lawn man busted on gun charge

A 21-year-old West Lawn man was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he
Rashaun Brooks

was arrested in the 7100 block of South Avers at 1:17 pm. Saturday, April 24.

Rashaun Brooks, of the 3800 block of West 71st Street, was apprehended by officers responding to a 911 call of a man waving a gun at passers-by on 71st Street.

A CPD spokesman said that when he saw police, Brooks ditched a handgun and tried to hide behind nearby bushes.

According to public records, Brooks has been arrested five times in the last three years on charges that included criminal trespass to a vehicle, reckless conduct, criminal damage to property and possession of a controlled substance.

Claim man had gun near Hearst School
Brandon Robinson

A 26-year-old Hearst area man was charged with illegal carrying of a firearm near a school, as well as possession of a controlled substance, after he was arrested in the 4600 block of South Lamon at 6:45 p.m. Monday, April 26.

Brandon Robinson, of the 5000 block of West 45th Street, was reportedly spotted carrying a holstered handgun while he was in close proximity to Hearst School, a CPD spokesman said.

Claim man molested two girls
Reginald Starks

A 52-year-old West Englewood man was charged with two counts of predatory criminal sexual assault after he was arrested at 47th and Cicero at 9:44 p.m. Thursday, May 6.

Reginald Starks, of the 6200 block of South Seeley, allegedly molested two girls—ages 5 and 12—back in 2016-17 at his home, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Say Summit driver hit pedestrian
Carlos Barrera-Vega

A 25-year-old Summit man was charged with failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, as well as leaving the scene of an accident, after he was arrested in front of 5012 West 63rd St. at 6:12 p.m. Tuesday, April 27.

Carlos A. Barrera-Vega, of the 5300 block of South Hunt, reportedly drove a vehicle that struck a 38-year-old woman pedestrian and then struck another vehicle, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Barrera-Vega also was cited for failure to carry a license while driving.

Arrest woman again for retail theft
Felicia Ligon

A 48-year-old West Englewood woman was charged with retail theft after she was arrested at the Walgreens at Archer and Cicero at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 27.

Felicia A. Ligon, of the 7100 block of South Honore, allegedly stole merchandise but was detained by store security until police arrived.

A CPD spokesman did not say what merchandise was allegedly stolen.

According to public records, Ligon has been arrested nine times by CPD since 2015 on such charges as theft, retail theft, aggravated assault, violating an order of protection and possession of a controlled substance.

Traffic stop leads to gun charge
Juan Valdes

A 21-year-old Gage Park man was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he was arrested during a traffic stop at 6400 S. Pulaski at 12:35 a.m. Saturday, May 8.

Juan J. Valdes, of the 5500 block of South Mozart, was pulled over after police said they spotted him passing a vehicle on the right. A search yielded a handgun, they said.

According to public records, Valdes has been arrested four times by CPD since 2018 on charges that included cannabis possession and theft or labor or services.

Alleged road-rage leads to assault charges
Clarence Hill

A 32-year-old Auburn Gresham man was charged two counts of assault after he was arrested at 5749 S. Harlem at 5:54 p.m. Wednesday, April 28.

Clarence D. Hill, of the 1500 block of West 77th Street, allegedly threatened a 49-year-old man and a 46-year-old woman with bodily harm during what a CPD spokesman called a road rage incident that occurred in a parking lot.

According to public records, Hill has been arrested three times by CPD since 2016—twice on DUI charges.

Claim suburban woman drove drunk
Stephanie Patrasso

A 46-year-old Prospect Heights woman was charged with DUI, failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident and illegally transporting open alcohol after she was arrested in the 7100 block of West Archer at 6:24 p.m. Sunday, May 9.

Stephanie A. Patrasso, of the 1200 block of River Road, was apprehended without incident.

Charged with damage to sandwich shop

A 25-year-old Clearing man was charged with criminal trespass to land, criminal damage to property and theft after he was arrested in front of 6330 W. 63rd St. at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, May 2. 

Adrian Israel Barcenas-Buendia, of the 6500 block of West 64th Street, was apprehended after he allegedly caused a disturbance in the Subway sandwich shop at 6456 W. 63rd St. minutes earlier.

A CPD spokesman said that Barcenas-Buendia threw sandwiches around, damaged a credit card reader and knocked over a tip jar.

Charge man with DUI, drug possession
Marek Capiak

A 42-year-old Clearing man was charged with DUI and failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident after he was arrested in the 7100 block of West 63rd Street at 5:15 p.m. Sunday, May 9.

Marek Capiak, of the 6200 block of South Neenah, also was charged with possession of a controlled substance after a search of his vehicle yielded a plastic bag containing suspect heroin, a CPD spokesman said.

Traffic stop leads to gun charge
Justin Ross-Haymer

A 25-year-old Back of the Yards man was charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 5600 block of South Pulaski at 8:25 p.m. Saturday, April 17.

Justin J. Ross-Haymer, of the 5200 block of South Paulina, allegedly was found to be in possession of a loaded handgun.

Claim man violated order of protection
Asencion Barojas

A 27-year-old Little Village man was charged with violating an order of protection after he was arrested in the 6200 block of South Kenneth at 5:08 p.m. Monday, April 19.

Asencion Barojas, of the 2700 block of South Spaulding, allegedly violated the order by trying to visit a 35-year-old woman.

Charge woman with domestic battery
Catera Turner

A 19-year-old Scottsdale woman was charged with domestic battery after she was arrested in the 8500 block of South Karlov at 5:19 p.m. Sunday, April 18.

Catera C. Turner, of the 8500 block of South Komensky, allegedly cut a 25-year-old woman during an argument that occurred on April 13, a CPD spokesman said without elaborating.

Traffic stop leads to ‘criminal damage’ charge
Isa Allen

A 25-year-old West Humboldt Park man was charged with criminal damage to property after he was arrested during a traffic stop in the 4800 block of South Archer at 2:14 a.m. Saturday, April 17.

Isa Z. Allan, of the 800 block of North Christiana, allegedly damaged the living room window of a home by throwing a piece of wood at it. A CPD spokesman provided no other details.

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Friday, May 21, 2021

Chicago Public Schools Get Billions in Fed Aid, But Find No Funds For Judy

Judy Mahoney on the job.

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Last month, it was announced that Chicago Public Schools District 299 is receiving a total of more than $2.79 billion, the largest federal aid package in CPS history.

This month, they apparently can’t find funds to save the job of a clerk at a school in Garfield Ridge.

That’s the gist of Judy Mahoney’s story.

Since 2018, Judy has worked as a clerk at Byrne Elementary School. But now she’s being pushed out, allegedly because there are no funds to cover her salary.

But before I proceed with the story, let’s back up a bit.

Judy was born in Mexico and brought to the U.S. at age 10, in 1981. She grew up in Back of the Yards, attending several grade schools there and then in 1989 graduating from Curie High School.

In 1993 she was hired by CPS and worked for 23 years at Whittier Elementary School, near 23rd and Damen.

Then tragedy struck.

In May 2017, Judy was riding in a vehicle struck head-on by a drunk driver with no insurance.

She suffered a spinal cord injury and was paralyzed from the waist down. She was off work for eight months as she underwent hospitalization and then grueling rehabilitation work.

Click here to see seven seconds' worth of video of Judy in her rehab hospital bed.

“I had to re-learn everything,” Judy recalls. “I was like a baby. I even had to learn to sit up.”

But she persevered, thanks in part to the support and encouragement she received from her husband, three daughters and eight sisters; and though now in a wheelchair (most likely for the rest of her life), Judy was ready to return to work at CPS.

But three decades after passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act, many CPS schools remain inaccessible to people who use wheelchairs.

Whittier’s building, more than 100 years old, is one of them. It has never been retrofitted with an elevator. So much for claims by Mayors Daley and Emmanuel that they’d make Chicago the most accessible city in the nation, I guess.

So Judy filed her paperwork to come back to work, but said she had to endure a months-long runaround that left her emotionally exhausted, with CPS officials allegedly dragging their feet in finding her a spot in a wheelchair-accessible school.

In 2018, she landed a position at Byrne and has worked there ever since.

Her bilingual skills are a plus for the school, as is her disability—if only because Judy serves as an everyday reminder to Byrne students that people with disabilities can and do function as equals in the real world, and must be treated as such. In multiple ways, she’s a role model for the boys and girls at Byrne.

But after three years at Byrne, CPS will lay Judy off at the end of June because the Central Office is reportedly ending funding of her salary and Byrne cannot afford her.

When asked for its take on Judy’s situation, a CPS spokesman said, “Three years ago, the district created and funded an additional clerk position at Byrne Elementary to support this employee during a difficult time. Like hundreds of schools, Byrne Elementary is wheelchair accessible, and could meet her needs. Recently, the employee was asked to begin applying for vacant clerk positions at other wheelchair accessible schools, with the district's support. The district remains fully committed to continuing to work with the employee to find a new position at another school that meets her needs. Any suggestion the district has been unsupportive of this employee is uninformed."

A request for comment from Byrne Principal Elizabeth Gallo went unanswered.

So Judy’s struggle continues, and it’s not easy, she says.

“I’m old school. I take pride in my job. I’m professional. I show up for work every day. What’s being done to me is hurtful. It pains me that they don’t have any compassion for me. This is destroying my emotional state of mind.”

A petition to pressure Mayor Lightfoot, CPS and the Chicago Board of Education has reportedly attracted more than 7,000 signatures thus far. If you want to sign it, click here.

The Byrne Local School Council will meet at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 2 via Zoom. Not sure if they will discuss this matter, but visit to obtain details on how to attend.

Additionally, it looks like Judy's CTU colleagues will picket or conduct some sort of a demonstration at about 7:00 a.m. Tuesday, May 25 at the school. Stay in touch with for details.


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Ray Buick Sounds an Alarm About Scammers Offering Cut-Rate Repairs

Don’t fall for fast-talking con artists, Gieselmann says

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

One of the Chicago area’s most established and respected
names in automobiles is sounding a note of caution to local car owners about con artists posing as mechanics.

Ray Gieselmann of Ray Buick, 5011 W. 63rd St., said last week that he has heard reports of scam artists posing as auto mechanics, attempting to bilk motorists out of money in exchange for repairs that don’t happen.

“These scammers look at your vehicle (in traffic or in a parking lot) and notice your dealership plate frames/decals,” he said. “They stop you and start a conversation. They claim they work for the dealership named on your vehicle, and that they have serviced your car in the past. They then claim to see something wrong with your car, like a dent.”

The crooks offer to fix the problem on the spot, for a fraction of what it might cost at a dealership. Motorists looking for a bargain are lulled into trusting the fake mechanic and pay right away.
“They are very polite and smooth, and they make it sound like they are doing you a favor. Further, they prevent you from checking out the validity of their claim by saying something like, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this’ or ‘Don’t tell the dealer about this or I could get fired.’”

Gieselmann said that two Ray Buick customers he knows of—an elderly man and a middle-aged woman—have been approached by such scammers.

Police often tell people that if a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is; and they take special care to warn senior citizens, who often can be more trusting and less skeptical than a younger person.

Gieselmann, 34, a scion of a family that has owned Ray Buick since 1953, said motorists should have their vehicles serviced at a shop they know and trust. Ray Buick, for example, has long employed GM-certified mechanics that are trained and re-trained so that their skills are always current. In fact, Gieselmann’s brother, Greg, is head of Ray Buick’s service department, ensuring efficiency for maintenance and mechanical work.

“Earning the trust of the neighborhood means quite a bit to us,” Gieselmann said. “It’s why we have so many repeat customers, both in terms of people buying cars and having them serviced.”

Gieselmann is the fourth “Ray” at Ray Buick, in a line started by his great-grandfather. Gieselmann’s young son, also named Ray “will be welcome to work here one day, as well, if he’d like that,” he said. “We are a family-owned and operated business and proud of that.”

Friday, May 14, 2021

Think One Person Can't Make a Difference? Meet Maureen Cronin.

Cook rallies community to feed hungry seniors
Maureen Cronin (center, green top and mask).

By Tim Hadac
Managing Editor
Southwest Chicago Post

A neighborhood drive to feed elderly men and women in need—launched earlier this year as the pandemic still raged—continues to gather momentum even as COVID-19 starts to fade away.

That momentum was in evidence earlier this week at the popular Café 63 restaurant near 63rd and Narragansett, as nearly 20 volunteers packaged dinners that would be delivered to some 40 senior citizens in Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

There was no shortage of smiles as acclaimed Chef Dale Andrews brought out trays of freshly-cooked delights like Greek chicken and potatoes, green beans and more.

Quarterbacking the volunteers was 32-year-old Maureen Cronin, a Garfield Ridge native and alumna of Byrne School and Mount Assisi Academy. She founded the effort back in early February

“I know there are a lot of elderly people in the neighborhood who are alone,” Cronin said. “Their kids have grown and often have moved away. They may be in need but are too proud to ask for help—even from their own family members. That’s kind of where we come in. We provide them with a delicious meal every week.”

Cronin and crew typically purchase the meals from a restaurant in the neighborhood, many of which have struggled to keep their heads above water during the pandemic’s forced shutdown of indoor dining.

When the drive started in February, Cronin paid much of the costs out of her own pocket—no small feat for a working-class woman employed as a cook at Vince’s Restaurant and Pizzeria.

But as news of the weekly good deed spread, members of the Garfield Ridge Chamber of Commerce stepped up either to directly pay for the meals or run a fundraiser to generate assistance. Some of those business leaders are Geno Randazzo of All Exterior Contractors, Al Cacciottolo of First Rate Realty, Jennifer Tapia of First Rate Realty, Mary Ellen Brown of Midway Storage, Mike Riordan of Mike Riordan State Farm, Vanessa Garcia of Mike Riordan State Farm, Ericka Villegas of RE/MAX in The Village and Mick Kozy of Continental Sales.

In fact, Continental Sales footed the bill for this week’s meal, Cronin said.

Cronin credits Randazzo with being her “first inspiration to be selfless” since the beginning, keeping her steady and offering needed encouragement and financial assistance that helped carry her through weeks where she doubted if she could keep the effort going.

She also finds inspiration in Margaret Huitron, the Garfield Ridge girl who earned local praise last year when her lemonade stand in front of her family’s home was so successful, it raised enough money to buy cheerful, colorful facemasks for every child at Kinzie School. This year, the grade school student raised funds that actually paid the entire bill for a Wednesday meal for dozens of seniors.

“I said, ‘If a 10-year-old girl can do so much for so many, so can I,’” Cronin added.

Some of the volunteers at Wednesday’s event were from the Garfield Ridge Neighborhood Watch, as well as the Chicago Lawn (8th) Police District CAPS Office.

Makes a difference for seniors

Skeptics might say that the various social service agencies out there already can and do meet the need of hunger among the elderly. Cronin has a reply.

“With Meals on Wheels, you have to be homebound—and the people we’re serving may have a disability or some kind of mobility limitation, but they’re not technically homebound,” she said, adding that other agencies serving seniors have waiting lists.

Ninety-three-year-old Delores Bius understands the importance of the effort.

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood for 60 years,” she said. “I raised five sons here, but now I’m alone.”

A friend linked her with Cronin back in February, and she has been receiving a weekly meal ever since.

“I said, ‘Sure, I’d like a home-cooked meal once a week,’ because I don’t cook anymore,” she said, adding that Cronin “is such a sweetheart. Can you imagine doing what she does? I don’t know how she does it.”

Looking around her at the volunteers from different walks of life, Bius said the whole operation speaks well of Clearing and Garfield Ridge.

“This is the way a neighborhood ought to be, the way neighborhoods used to be in most other places, people looking out for each other,” she said.

Those interested in helping Cronin and crew—either through donations of funds or time—are encouraged to send an email to or call (708) 490-7595.