Cover Up, the Chicago Way

John Ransom
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Posted: Mar 25, 2011 9:34 AM
Cover Up, the Chicago Way

After a series of articles detailing discrepancies in how Chicago Police handled an investigation of a brawl involving R.J. Vanecko, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is calling for an inquiry into the case. Vanecko is a nephew of Obama’s Chief of Staff Bill Daley and outgoing Chicago Mayor Richie Daley.

So you can be sure the any inquiry into the case will be handled the Chicago Way.

"Some witnesses now suggest that the versions of events attributed to the CPD (Chicago Police Department) reports from 2004 were not accurate," Alvarez wrote regretfully to the interim Director of the Illinois State Police, according to Chicago’s NBC news affiliate.

You could almost hear her pen audibly sigh in disgust that any one would even question the police investigation.   

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Alvarez, you see, doesn’t think the police did anything wrong. But she became Cook County State’s Attorney- a post Richie Daley once held- by doing things, the Chicago Way.  

Earlier this week I detailed the brawl:

On April 25, 2004, Vanecko, who stands 6-foot-3 inches, got into an altercation with David Koschman- all 5-foot-5, 140 lbs of him- outside a Rush Street night club. A punch was thrown by one of three men in Vanecko’s group. By the process of elimination and simple deduction, the punch was possibly thrown by Vanecko himself. Witnesses say the tallest guy in the group threw the punch, which describes Vanecko. 

NBC 5 Chicago reporter Carol Marin and the Chicago Sun Times recently ran a series of investigative articles detailing how the police mishandled the investigation from the start of the case.

Police waited 25 days before conducting a line up. While police say no one identified Vanecko then, at least one witness says that’s not so. “David Koschman's friend, Scott Allen was not only an eyewitness,” writes Chicago Now “but he also claims that he picked RJ Vanecko out of a police lineup.”

The police then changed their story saying that Koschman was the aggressor and Vanecko acted in self-defense. 

Later, police claimed that they “lost” the file, so the case couldn’t be reviewed.

And Alvarez denies that the police were influenced in any way by Vanecko’s family connections, despite the Cook County State’s Attorney now calling for an investigation.

"We would not be here talking about this case but for the fact that this guy happens to be related to the mayor," Alvarez told NBC 5. "Simple. Dug up seven years later because Mayor Daley is on his way out." Poor Daley family, having to deal with truth and justice, like the rest of us.

Some in Chicago media are trumpeting the Alvarez letter calling for an investigation as a victory.

But its doubtful that the Illinois State Police will do anything more than review the case before they issue a statement exonerating Vanecko.

Certainly there will be some public hand wringing about how the police could have handled the investigation better. Someone might even get fired before ending up with fat settlement from the Chicago Police and a pension.

Because what the public will miss is the hand shaking that will be going on in the backrooms.

Handshaking, the Chicago way, with a wink and a nod and a pinky ring.

Earlier this month politicos in Illinois ran off the head of the Illinois State Police (ISP), the organization Alvarez has suggested to investigate the case, because he was too much of an outsider, too independent.

For two years, the Illinois Senate refused to confirm West Point grad and war hero Jonathon Monken’s appointment to lead the ISP. So instead they just moved him to another position, presumably one that doesn’t involve such delicate operations as “losing” files.

They moved Monken over to the position of chief of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency at $128, 920 per year. Yes, it’s a pay cut, but then there was that wink and a nod and the pinky ring thing.

Who is going to be the new head of the Illinois State Police?

Coincidentally, Alvarez' current deputy chief of investigations at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, Hiram Grau is taking that spot.

Presumably, the pinky ring comes included.