The [Tuesday] Papers
"The prosecutor who declined to charge former Mayor Richard M. Daley's nephew in the killing of David Koschman - and apparently 'threw away' the case file - has left the Cook County state's attorney's office, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned."
"'Darren O'Brien no longer works in the [state's attorney's office]. The state's attorney accepted his resignation letter approximately six weeks ago,' said Sally Daly, a spokeswoman for Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez."
This is just extraordinary.
O'Brien told grand jurors he "could not conclude" who punched Koschman but "whoever pushed or punched Koschman did so because they were acting in response to Koschman's aggression."
Webb pointed out that "even though O'Brien and CPD did not speak to Vanecko, according to O'Brien, he was nevertheless able to divine Vanecko's actual state of mind."
Maybe O'Brien knew that Vanecko was basically a good kid.
The state's attorney's office has no paper or electronic files of the Koschman case, even though O'Brien was required to create a felony-review folder with information on the witnesses he interviewed.
O'Brien had told his supervisors he didn't recall creating a file, according to Webb's report. But O'Brien told a different story to the grand jury.
"O'Brien further testified that after he completed the May 20, 2004, witness interviews, he likely brought the felony review folder back to his office to await further contact from CPD . . ." Webb wrote. "According to O'Brien's special grand jury testimony, he likely kept the Koschman folder in his office desk drawer for some time, but '[w]hen nothing more happened in the case, [he] threw the folder away.'"
Just following the office's policy on records retention!
O'Brien, who made a failed bid for judge in 1998, is part of a political family. His first cousin James "Boz" O'Brien operates the Reilly's Daughter tavern at Midway Airport under a city contract. Another first cousin, Kevin O'Brien, is married to Patricia J. Cullerton, the 38th Ward Democratic committeeman whose family has been involved in city politics since before the Chicago Fire of 1871.
Translation: He knew who R.J. Vanecko was.
"Most institutions have a propensity to promote mediocrities, those whose primary strengths are knowing where power lies, being subservient and obsequious to the centers of power and never letting morality get in the way of one's career."
In 2011, the Sun-Times reported:
Cook County prosecutors say they relied heavily on two "unbiased witnesses" in deciding they couldn't charge anyone in the death of David Koschman following a 2004 confrontation in the Rush Street area that involved Mayor Daley's nephew and three friends.
Now, one of those witnesses says prosecutors' conclusion that Koschman "was the aggressor and had initiated the physical confrontation" is a "flat-out lie."
The witness - Michael Connolly, an information-technology manager who previously had been interviewed by the Chicago Police Department - came forward Wednesday after reading a statement from prosecutors in Monday's Chicago Sun-Times.
"The state's attorney said all the witnesses involved said that David was the aggressor. That was a flat-out lie," said Connolly, 36, who was drinking on Rush Street with a co-worker, Phillip Kohler.
Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Darren O'Brien, who headed that office's felony-review unit at the time, said he and the police agreed no one could be charged.
"This was a case that had three major problems, in my opinion, before I could even think about pulling the trigger on charging anybody," O'Brien said. "There was contrary information given about the contact that was made between somebody in Vanecko's group and Koschman. Some people said it was a shove. Some people said it was a punch . . . I couldn't find anybody that could identify the shover or pusher."
Webb's report, however, makes clear that police knew almost immediately that Vanecko was the man who threw the punch.
By the way, in 2012, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez said:
"We're not even sure who threw the punch. We don't even know if there's a punch or a push."
That just wasn't true.
Nyuk, Nyuk, Nayak
"More than five years after he emerged as a central figure in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat, longtime political fundraiser Raghuveer Nayak was sentenced Monday to two years in prison for paying bribes to doctors to send patients to surgery centers he owns," the Tribune reports.
Here's what I wrote about Nayak and Jesse Jackson Jr. in 2012:
At the 2008 Democratic convention in Denver, Jackson's quest for the seat became a piece of pure theatre. Rising to speak in a room filled with Illinois's most powerful political figures, Jackson put away his prepared remarks, teared up, and called for a grand reconciliation, which saw him hugging congressional rivals Bobby Rush and Debbie Halvorson as well as Mayor Daley.
It seemed bizarrely genuine at the time. But, looking back, one could wonder if the hug-a-thon was a stunt to try to consolidate support for his Senate bid. "He really, really in his heart believed he was going to be U.S. Senator," says Halvorson. "He had to make peace with everyone he had pissed off."
Denver is also where Jackson first spoke to Raghuveer Nayak about wanting the appointment, according to testimony Jackson gave to the House Ethics Committee. He later downplayed those conversations, saying they mainly consisted of Nayak jokingly calling him "Senator."
The Indian-born businessman first entered the Jackson family orbit as a supporter of Operation Push. He befriended Jackson's brother Jonathan and they partnered on several business deals, including the development of a South Side bank building.
It's unclear how close Nayak was with Jackson. But there is no question that Nayak and another business associate, Rajinder Bedi, once the state's chief trade officer, offered $1.5 million - perhaps upward of $6 million - on Jackson's behalf to Robert Blagojevich, who handled fundraising for his brother. The question is whether Jackson knew about or even directed it. (An August 2009 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found "probable cause" to believe that Jackson had either directed Nayak to make a pay-to-play offer with Blagojevich or knew of the plan.)
Back to the Trib:
"Prosecutors alleged that for more than a decade, Nayak doled out more than $80,000 in cash bribes and paid for more than $3 million in advertising for doctors in return for referrals to his surgery centers in Chicago and Indiana.
"Though Nayak was never charged in the Blagojevich scandal, prosecutors in a court filing last month asked Gettleman to consider it because it showed his 'willingness to corrupt.'"
A thought experiment.
Today We Fight Back
"Today, it is widely known that the international spy agencies collect users' phone calls, e-mails, address books, buddy lists, calling records, online video game chats, financial documents, browsing history, text messages, and calendar data."
Just say no.
Flying Saucer Food Drive!
Because no child should go hungry.
Most Ironic Crime Dog Ever
McGruff Gets 16 Years For Pot & Ammo.
2 Chainz At Tanner
Rap star visits Chicago elementary. Plus: Reckless Angel Olsen & The Orwells Out East. In Local Music Notebook.
* Chilly Chicagoans Try The Beach Near Tribune Tower.
* Report: Fewer Than 2 Million Sign Up For Medicaid.
* Rick Reilly's Latest Self-Plagiarism Is The Worst.
The Beachwood Tip Line: Haven't lost a file yet.
Posted on February 11, 2014