Afternoon Edition: April 1, 2022

Today’s update is a 5-minute read that will brief you on the day’s biggest stories.

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s office said today that officials “sought help” from the FBI after an internal investigation into ghost payrolling involving sheriff’s officers.

Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

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Afternoon Edition


Chicago’s most important news of the day, delivered every weekday afternoon. Plus, a bonus issue on Saturdays that dives into the city’s storied history.

This afternoon will be partly sunny with a high near 44 degrees. Tonight will see increasing clouds and a low around 34. Tomorrow will be rainy and snowy with a high near 39. Sunday will be mostly sunny with a high around 50.

Top story

FBI investigating ghost payrolling at Cook County Sheriff’s Office

The FBI is investigating allegations of ghost payrolling by officers of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, a probe that involves a suburban Chicago security company.

Sheriff’s officials requested help from federal investigators after launching an internal investigation last year, said Matt Walberg, spokesman for Sheriff Tom Dart.

“An investigation was opened into personnel-related matters last year by the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office sought the assistance of the FBI to assist in the investigation. The investigation is ongoing,” Walberg said today in a written statement. “The Sheriff’s Office takes allegations of employee misconduct very seriously and always devotes the necessary resources to such investigations. We cannot comment further at this time.”

Sheriff’s officials declined to say how many officers are under investigation.

The investigation is ongoing and targets high-ranking officers with the department involved in possible “double-dipping,” a source with knowledge of the inquiry said. The term implies that the officers were getting paid by Blue Star while also on the clock for the sheriff.

Officials at Blue Star Security, a Des Plaines-based company, said the firm “has cooperated fully with the investigation to this point.”

“It has been made clear that we are not a target or a subject of this investigation.Our company verifies the good standing of all active employees hired from municipal police departments in the state of Illinois,” the company said in an email response to questions from the Chicago Sun-Times.

Andy Grimm and Jon Seidel have more on the investigation here.

More news you need

  1. A man was arrested in Cleveland, Ohio, last month after prosecutors were able to match DNA evidence linking him to two sexual assaults that happened 25 years ago in Lake View and Portage Park. The 59-year-old was taken into custody in Ohio on March 10 and charged with felony aggravated criminal sexual assault and home invasion for the attacks, according to Cook County prosecutors.
  2. In May 2020, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was drawing considerable flak over her stance against churches and other places of worship reopening for services amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But she found a behind-the-scenes ally to help her face the backlash from faith communities: Cardinal Blase Cupich, the top Catholic cleric in the Chicago region. Newly obtained emails between Cupich and Lightfoot show the cardinal advised the mayor on May 13, 2020, about how to craft a letter she would send the following day to “Members of the Chicago Faith Community.”
  3. A little-known provision of a criminal justice reform law Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed last year now requires that criminal defendants who are on home confinement while awaiting trial be given a minimum of two days a week to move freely without being monitored. Our Frank Main looks into how frequently police have arrested those defendants on their unsupervised days since the provision took effect Jan. 1.
  4. After seeing its most violent year since the 1990s, Chicago has logged fewer shootings and murders so far in 2022 though other crimes like carjackings are up. Experts have said the jump in some crime statistics, such as burglaries, thefts and robberies, could be because more people are out and about, leaving their homes and heading back to work.
  5. Lawyers for former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and a close confidant get to spend the next four months sifting through the mountain of evidence gathered during the feds’ yearslong investigation of the Southwest Side Democrat. Meanwhile, prosecutors are mum on whether they plan to eventually expand upon last month’s bombshell racketeering indictment of Madigan and ally Michael McClain.
  6. The Jeep plant in Belvidere, having gone through several cutbacks in recent years, is facing a new round of layoffs. Stellantis, owner of the Jeep brand, said it will make reductions via retirement packages for eligible unionized workers and an unspecified number of layoffs of hourly and salaried staff.

A bright one

Back of the Yards mural spotlights Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter video game characters

The 43-year-old artist who goes by Peas wants people to be transported back to their childhoods when they see the “Mortal Kombat vs. Street Fighter” mural he collaborated on in Back of the Yards.

The mural at 49th Street and Oakley Avenue — which can be seen from the CTA Orange Line’s Western Avenue L stop — pits characters from classic fighting games Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat against each other.

It fills the outside walls of the Bridgewater Studio art gallery, giving a little bit of life to surfaces that have been taken “for granted” for years, Peas says.

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This mural at 49th Street and Oakley Avenue in Back of the Yards can be seen from the CTA Orange Line’s Western Avenue L stop.

Provided

Painted last fall, the mural was a collaboration among 19 artists, many who are affiliated with the Chicago Most Known artists group, according to Peas.

Many of the artists were fans of the video games as kids, Peas says.

Milton Coronado, another of the artists, says it was a “choose your fighter” scenario for the artists to decide which characters to paint — “first-come, first-serve.”

Alec Karam has the full story behind the mural here.

From the press box

Your daily question ☕

In honor of April Fool’s Day, who is your favorite Chicago comedian? Tell us why.

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: What do you think of Mayor Lightfoot’s plan to offer pre-paid gas and CTA cards for Chicagoans?

Here’s what some of you said…

“I think it’s great. She’s the mayor and it’s her city.” —LRenee Walker

“How about we encourage people to take/pay for the CTA on their own, and use the money to increase/expand service so we can become a more transit-oriented and less car-focused city?” —Alyssa Stewart

“Stop spending our money!” —Kenya Tramel

“I think that the idea for prepaid gas and public transit cards is great! Although I think that putting more value in public transit than gas makes more sense in terms of the environment.” — Michael Thomas

“I think it is a gross inequity to those who take transit over those who drive. It is a slap in the face to Chicago’s own climate objectives in the form of a driving incentive.” —Loren Johnson

“Chicago will never be satisfied or happy. But they’ll use it.” —Saúl Rodriguez Jr.

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