State Briefs 4/30/08

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Peterson offers reward for information about Stacy

BOLINGBROOK – Drew Peterson announced Wednesday that he is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the return of his wife Stacy.

Peterson said in a statement released by his attorney, Joel Brodsky, that as long as his wife remains missing, people will think he played a part in her disappearance. He said he hopes the reward will be enough to bring her home.

“Maybe the money will prompt someone to come forward with a lead. Her children miss her and people believe I had something to do with her disappearance,” Peterson said in the statement.

Information and tips should be sent to Brodsky said the tips will be opened and read by a team of investigators hired by Peterson, not by Peterson himself or his attorneys. He said all legitimate leads will be forwarded to law enforcement authorities.

Suburban Life Publications

Inmate tries to hang himself

SPRINGFIELD – A man arrested Saturday for allegedly robbing a Springfield convenience store apparently tried to hang himself with a bed sheet in the Sangamon County Jail Wednesday morning.

Tracey J. Jones, 44,  was rushed to Memorial Medical Center following the incident, which happened just after 8 a.m. He was being evaluated, and jail officials anticipated he would return to the jail after being treated.

Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson was out of the office Wednesday, but chief deputy Tony Sacco said jail officials had no indication Jones might have been suicidal. When Jones returns to the jail, he will be considered a high-risk inmate, Sacco said.

Sacco said Jones apparently made a makeshift rope out of his bed sheet overnight, and as soon as he was let out of his second-floor cell at 8 a.m., he went directly to the railing, tied one end of the sheet to the railing and the other end around his neck and lowered himself down in an apparent attempt to hang himself.

Only one other inmate was out of his cell at that point. He saw what Jones was doing and ran to get help from the control room operator, Sacco said.

Correctional officers arrived in less than a minute and held Jones' feet while another officer cut him down from the makeshift rope.

Jones was arrested early Saturday after allegedly robbing a Circle K with a rifle.

State Journal-Register

Man to pay state additional $4.5 million for fraud

SPRINGFIELD – Federal prosecutors and attorneys for a Chicago-area businessman agreed Tuesday that he would pay back an additional $4.5 million before being sentenced in November for defrauding the state.

Manu Shah, 71, of Oak Brook pleaded guilty in February 2007 to overcharging the Illinois Department of Transportation and 11 other government agencies by millions of dollars between 1997 and 2005. He used his company, Shah Engineering Inc. of Chicago, to carry out the plan.

On Tuesday, Jay Elmore and Jerome Marconi, attorneys for Shah, and assistant U.S. attorney Patrick Hansen agreed that Shah will have to have a total of $10 million set aside for restitution before his sentencing Nov. 24.

Shah agreed when he pleaded guilty to the crime to deposit $2.5 million with the U.S. Clerk of the Court within weeks of his plea and then another $1 million a month until he had $5.5 million total in escrow to cover restitution.

The agreement Tuesday added $4.5 million to that total.

Prosecutors also have agreed to seek a 41-month sentence. Shah could have faced up to 45 years in prison.

In addition, Shah’s company pleaded guilty to mail fraud, and prosecutors have asked for a $500,000 fine against the company.

At his plea hearing, Shah admitted that his firm overstated the number of company employees assigned to certain projects and exaggerated the hours they spent on those projects. The company also inflated its overhead expenses.

IDOT internal auditors discovered the problems and reported them to the U.S. attorney’s office and U.S. Department of Transportation.

The other 11 agencies defrauded included the Illinois State Tollway Authority, the city of Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority, Metra, the Chicago Department of Transportation, the Chicago Department of Aviation, the Department of Construction and Permits, the Chicago Park District, the Chicago Department of Sewers, the Chicago Department of Water and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District.

State Journal-Register

Man guilty of murder in botched robbery

PEORIA – A Peoria County jury convicted a man Wednesday guilty of first-degree murder and attempted armed robbery in a botched robbery that resulted in a death.

Jackie Williams, 23, faces a minimum of 45 years in prison and could be sentenced to life. He will have to spend the entire sentence behind bars.

Williams and other went to the house of David McCreary on Jan. 25, 2007, to rob him. Williams testified Tuesday things spiraled out of control when McCreary, who had answered the door of his house to find a gun pointed at him, charged him. A gun Williams was holding went off, he said, killing McCreary.

Williams is the last of four people to either stand trial or plead guilty in connection with McCreary's death.

Two weeks ago, Gabe Shelton, the alleged wheelman, was convicted of attempted armed robbery but acquitted of murder. Demarco Spencer, 26, was convicted on both counts and sentenced to 44 years in prison. Williams' girlfriend, Katisha Warfield pleaded to the attempted armed robbery count and was sentenced to 12 years.

Prosecutors believe it was Warfield who called McCreary and ordered two pounds of marijuana, knowing neither she nor Williams had the money to pay for it. Shelton picked up the pair and Spencer and took them to McCreary's house. Spencer, Warfield and Williams went to the door.

Journal Star, Peoria

Man killed when riding mower slides into lake

PINCKNEYVILLE – A 70-year-old Pinckneyville man was killed Tuesday afternoon when his mowing tractor slid down the soft bank of a recreational strip mining lake and pinned him under water.

Perry County Sheriff Keith Kellerman said Mohr had been mowing around a cabin on the edge of the lake across the road from his home when the accident happened. Mohr was pronounced dead at the Pinckneyville Community Hospital.

“The mower overturned with him on it and pinned him under water,” Kellerman said. Kellerman said that EMTs administered CPR, but were unable to revive Mohr.

Du Quoin Evening Call

Cougar photo is a hoax, police say

STICKNEY – An e-mail circulating this week among local residents that shows a picture of a cougar stalking its prey — purportedly in the Stickney area — is a hoax, according to police officials.

The photograph — along with apparent video footage — was supposedly taken by police this week. Not true, said Stickney Police Chief Gary Dunow, who said the e-mail is raising undue levels of concern about a cougar that may not actually be in the vicinity.

The hoax comes after two recent reports of a large, tan cat on the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Plant of Greater Chicago’s property in Stickney, and weeks aftr the shooting death by police of an adult cougar in Chicago.

Dunow said he’s fielded calls and been approached by people asking about the e-mail’s authenticity. He said, to his knowledge, there have been no photos taken, video footage recorded or even verifiable paw prints found that would confirm a cougar’s presence.

On April 21, a fisherman on the water reclamation property was the first to report seeing a large cat, prompting speculation about another cougar in the region.

On Sunday, a group of adults and children reported a large, tan cat behind the fence line of the water reclamation property.

That report prompted Stickney police to close indefinitely neighboring Veterans Memorial Park, on Ridgeland Avenue in north Stickney.

Suburban Life Publications