Entries in Chicago (103)


Chicago Chef Sued for Selling Counterfeit Wine Bottle

Photo by Jacob Andrzejczak/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Two wine collectors from New York City have filed suit against famed Chicago chef Charlie Trotter for selling them a counterfeit bottle of wine for $46,227.40.

The collectors, a married couple, filed the suit on June 13 in U.S District Court in Northern Illinois. They are seeking over $75,000 in damages: In addition to $30,000 worth of punitive damages, they want the $46,227.40 back.

When reached by ABC News, the couple declined to comment and asked that their names not be revealed for privacy purposes.

Trotter operated Charlie Trotter’s, a Michelin-starred restaurant in Chicago. ABC7 in Chicago reported that Trotter closed his restaurant in the summer of 2012 to attend graduate school. According to the restaurant’s website, it has received awards and citations from the James Beard Foundation, the Wine Spectator and Restaurant Magazine.

It was these accolades that took the couple there when they flew to Chicago in June 2012. In addition to sampling the food, they wanted to buy a bottle of Burgundy from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti to add to their wine collection. The court documents maintain that this type of wine is among the most valuable in the world.

They purchased a 1945 DRC Magnum for $46,227.40, according to the court documents. But when they wanted to add the bottle to their homeowners’ insurance, they were told to verify its authenticity.

They contacted Maureen Downey, a San Francisco based wine consultant, who said the wine was counterfeit.

Downey told ABC News that she was skeptical of the bottle because it was a magnum, which is equivalent to two bottles. She said Domaine de la Romanee-Conti only produced two barrels—roughly 50 bottles—of wine in 1945.

“The chance that they would make large formats [of the wine] when they were in postwar shambles is not very high,” she said.

Downey also said the photographs of the wine bottle that the couple sent her were identical to the photographs of another client.

“The details are the same with the fake aging. They have both been allegedly faded to make it look as though they have been aged and it’s just not probable that these two different bottles would look so exactly the same,” she said.

Trotter has refused to cancel the sale with the couple, according to court documents. He could not be reached for comment.

Vincent Louis DiTommaso, the couple’s attorney, told ABC News that he attempted to resolve the dispute outside of court but was unable to do so.

“I am just surprised because to me we had clear evidence of just showing that the wine was a fake, and to me the right thing to do is give the person their money back and be done with it,” DiTommaso said.

John Riccione, who DiTommaso said had been representing Trotter, was out of the office until Monday and could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Middle Schooler Saves Two Lives in One Week

(CHICAGO) -- Saving a life is impressive enough, but a Chicago area middle school student saved not only his best friend but also his teacher, all in the same week.

Travon Avery, an eighth grader at Herget Middle School in Aurora, Ill., was in class one day in January when his best friend Jose Duran started choking on a candy bar.

"He was eating candy and I made him laugh and then the candy got stuck in throat and he started choking. Everyone around was in shock," Travon said Friday in an interview with ABC News. "So I put my hand under his rib cage three times and did the Heimlich."

Jose's face, Travon said, was turning red, his eyes were welling with tears, and he was clutching his throat.

"I thought I was going to lose my friend. It was very scary," Travon said.

Thanks to Travon's quick thinking and immediate action, he was able to dislodge the candy and save Jose's life.

But Travon's amazing week did not end there. Two days later he was in math class when his teacher took a turn for the worse.

"She wasn't acting normal, so we were paying very close attention to her. Then she leaned over on the board and closed her eyes. We thought she was just sleeping, but she was passed out," Travon recalled. "I checked to see if she was breathing and she was, so I ran out of the class and got the nurse."

Soon an ambulance arrived to help the teacher.

That night the school called to inform Travon and his mother, Crystal Ruffin-Mason, that the teacher had been suffering from migraines and was now doing fine.

"They said that his quick action really helped avert something serious happening to his teacher," Ruffin-Mason said. "And they wanted to check on Travon because he was shaken up. They wanted to make sure he was okay emotionally."

Travon's heroics have since brought him national recognition. Earlier this week he appeared on The Steve Harvey Show, where he was named a Harvey's Hero. Travon says his mother deserves credit for his life-saving efforts.

"My mom taught me if someone needed help not to just stand there and not do anything, but to make an effort and try," he said.

On the show, Travon was presented with a $10,000 college scholarship from the U Promise program by Sallie Mae.

"I feel glad and blessed," he said.

"I'm so proud of him," said his mother. "That was so wonderful. Now he's so motivated and excited about college."

In addition to music, Travon's true passion is basketball, she said, but recently he had an idea that kids should focus less on sports and more on first aid.

"So you normally have camp for sports, but we should have a camp for teaching people CPR and the Heimlich," he suggested. "Even just a couple days a week where kids come out and learn."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Person of Interest Questioned in Shooting Death of Chicago Baby

Courtesy the Family(CHICAGO) -- Police are questioning a person of interest in the fatal drive-by shooting of a 6-month-old Chicago baby, reported ABC's Chicago station WLS-TV.

Jonylah Watkins was shot five times, along with her father, Jonathan Watkins, 29, in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood on March 11. Watkins was changing his daughter's diaper in a car when police said someone fired on the pair.

Jonylah's parents held hands at a news conference Sunday as their pastor, Corey Brooks, said they hoped that whoever killed their baby would be brought to justice.

"We think that every day it is going to happen. Every single day we are hopeful and thankful, you know, that it is going to happen," Brooks said, as reported by WLS. "We are hoping that it will be in the next 24 hours."

A Chicago police spokesman declined to comment to, citing the ongoing investigation.

Baby Jonylah became the face of Chicago's gun violence epidemic when she was sprayed with bullets almost three months ago by an assailant who police said they believe was targeting her father.

The 6-month-old was treated at Comer Children's Hospital, where she died of her injuries the next day.

"This is another tragedy, because no child, certainly not an infant, should be a victim of gang violence," Garry McCarthy, Chicago's police chief, said after the shooting. "Although there are a lot of angles that we're pursuing, there are very strong gang overtones to this particular event."

Police said Jonathan Watkins had known gang affiliations, but Brooks, his pastor, said that Watkins was not affiliated with any of Chicago's four major street gangs, and had not been in trouble with the law since 2007.

As Watkins stood behind Brooks on Sunday, the pastor said the 29-year-old had been inspired to better his life after the fatal shooting of his daughter.

"Jonathan has been very cooperative. He has worked with the police diligently, and he wants the person to be caught," Brooks said.

"He's working now. The fact that he's getting a GED, all of that stuff, was not happening before," he said. "Even though this was a horrific thing that happened, we are going to try to do our very best to make their life a better life."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago HS Student Paralyzed in Shooting Goes to Prom

ABC News(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago high school senior who was paralyzed in a shooting last year didn't let his injuries stop him from enjoying one senior year highlight, his prom.

Miles Turner, a student at Leo High School in Chicago, was talking with his cousin when they became the targets of gunshots last October. Although police said Turner's cousin was the main target, Turner was hit five times. His cousin was killed.

Chicago's murder rate has risen over the last year even as it has decreased in other major American cities.

Turner survived his injuries after spending two months in the ICU and six weeks in a coma. The former 300-pound linebacker lost a third of his body weight while in recovery.

Although his spine was not hit in the shooting, it is unclear how much mobility he will have in the future. He was confined to a wheelchair after the shooting, he has very limited mobility in his legs. Turner was recently released from a rehab center.

Turner's mother, Angela Turner, said doctors weren't sure if he would be able to walk again due to his injuries, which have left his spine in "sleep mode."

"The way he's fighting, saying, 'I'm going to do it,' who knows?" she told ABC News station WLS-TV in Chicago.

On Friday, Turner prepped for his prom by cutting off his dreadlocks and dressing in a white tux with a blue vest. His family made him pose for a photo before he left for the dance.

Surrounded by family and friends eager to get a picture of him, he summed up how he felt about their support in three words: "Good. Honored. Surprised."

At the dance, Turner was joined by a group of friends wearing variations on his tuxedo. They crowded around him for a group photo.

"We played football for four years together. I was shocked to hear the news what happened that day," fellow student Jordan Smiley said. "I'm glad to see him now."

Turner is set to graduate in June and plans on attending college. Although he cannot currently walk, Turner plans on accomplishing another goal: playing college football.

"I want to go to college and play football," Turner told WLS-TV. "Football is my favorite sport. It's all I know."

While Turner has a long road ahead of him before he reaches a full recovery, he's determined.

"Just don't stop, don't quit, keep fighting," Turner said."Good things will happen."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Man, 80, Accused of Harassing Woman He Allegedly Tried to Kill

Peter Dazeley/Getty Images(CHICAGO) – So much for growing older and wiser.

An 80-year old Chicago man who is charged with attempted murder has been arrested and charged with harassing a woman in an attempt to get her to drop the charges against him.

Walter Wilson was arrested Saturday at 5:20 p.m. and charged with violating an order of protection, unlawful communication, and harassing a witness. All three charges are felonies. The situation involving Wilson dates back to a 2011 incident when he was charged with shooting a woman at a beauty salon.

The Chicago Police Department says Wilson recently contacted the woman to try to get her to drop those charges. According to police, Wilson called the woman’s cell phone more than 25 times and left messages asking her to call him. At one point he spoke with her and urged her to drop the charges.

When the woman refused, police say Wilson told her that he would “get everybody” who was involved in the situation.

Wilson appeared in court Sunday where a judge ordered him held on $250,000 bail.

Messages left by ABC News with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office were not returned Monday.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Teen Killed Hours After Sister Attends Obama Speech On Gun Violence

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A Chicago teenager was shot and killed Friday only hours after her sister attended President Obama's speech on the city's rampant gun violence. Janay McFarlane, 18, was killed while walking with a friend during a visit to her dad, Herbert McFarlane, in North Chicago.

"All this gun violence going on, you never think it would be your child," he told ABC's Chicago station WLS. "This is the hardest thing for me in my life."

Herbert McFarlane told WLS that the loss of Janay is especially hard because she leaves behind a 3-month old son, who likes to wear an "I love Mommy" shirt. The shooting occurred in Lake County, a northern suburb miles from the epicenter of the gun violence on the city's South Side.

"I'm in Lake County to get away from violence and now it happened in Lake County where I moved to," he told WLS.

McFarlane and her child spent time both in Lake County and on the South Side where her mother lives.

Only hours before McFarlane was shot and killed, President Obama returned to his hometown to speak on the South Side at a Hyde Park high school. McFarlane's sister, Destini Warren, 14, sat behind the president during the speech.

More than 500 people were shot and killed here last year, and this year the situation has worsened with the most deadly January the city has seen in over a decade. The shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year old who performed in Washington, D.C. at events connected to the president's inauguration last month, garnered national attention.

"Too many of our children are being taken away from us," Obama said in Hyde Park, with McFarlane's sister in the audience.

"Last year there were 443 murders with a firearm on the streets of this city, and 65 of those victims were 18 and under," he said. "So that's the equivalent of a Newtown every four months." He was referring to Newtown, Conn., where 20 first graders were gunned down by Adam Lanza along with seven adults.

Only hours later in Chicago, another 18-year old was shot and killed.

"I felt like someone took a knife and stabbed me in the heart, and a piece of my heart I will never get back," Angela Blakely, Janay McFarlane's mother, told WLS.

North Chicago Police on Sunday reportedly questioned two people in connection to McFarlane's death. Her family said McFarlane was an unintended target of the shooting.

Messages left by ABC News with the North Chicago Police Department and the Lake County Coroner's Office went unreturned Monday.

Another Chicago teenager, Frances Colon, was also shot and killed Friday just hours after she had told her father that she saw President Obama's helicopter fly over her neighborhood.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Alleged Shooters of Chicago Teen Hadiya Pendleton, Arrested, Charged

Obtained by ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Chicago Police believe they have solved last month's murder of a high school student who played with her marching band in Washington, D.C. during the inaugural ceremonies.

First-degree murder charges were filed Monday against two men for the shooting death of 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton. Authorities say the suspects, Kenneth Williams, 20, and Michael Ward, 18, are gang members.  Ward was on probation, according to Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

"He was arrested in 2011 for UUW, unlawful, unlawful use of a firearm, and if mandatory minimums existed in the state of Illinois, Michael Ward would not have been on the street to commit this heinous act," McCarthy said Monday.

Pendleton, an honors student, was shot and killed Jan. 29 while standing with a group of friends in a park located about one mile from the Obama family's Chicago residence on the city's South side.

"They [the suspects] were attempting to retaliate for a previous shooting where Williams was shot in July of [2012], and just to kind of complete the circle, in that shooting we made an arrest," McCarthy said. "Williams refused to prosecute that arrest."

McCarthy added that Michael Ward has confessed to the shooting, but noted that Ward indicated that Pendleton was not the intended target.

After First Lady Michelle Obama traveled to Chicago Saturday to attend Pendleton's funeral, the fallen teen's parents have been invited to be present in the House chamber for President Obama's State of the Union address.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio 


Cop Sues Chicago, Demands Overtime Pay for Working at Home

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- If you get paid by the hour and answer work-related phone calls and emails at home, should you be compensated?  Yes, according to a Chicago police officer, who filed a federal lawsuit against the city, claiming that he should be paid overtime when he conducts business at home via the Blackberry his department issued him.

The suit has been given a green light to move forward as a class action.

Paul Geiger, the attorney for Sgt. Jeffrey Allen, says hourly employees should be paid if they are required to use their smartphones at home.

"If they have a half hour phone call outside of work hours to a superior about a search warrant they are gonna work on the next day, that is something that needs to be paid for," Geiger argues.

Or else, he says, it violates the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Robert Bruno, a labor law expert at the University of Illinois-Chicago, says the lawsuit has merit.

"It would seem to me that every one of those phone calls is a work-related call.  And they would add up," he explains.

Noting that technology is running far ahead of the law, Bruno says, "Labor law in the United States to a great extent needs a real house cleaning."

If the lawsuit in federal court is successful, it could mean millions of dollars in back pay.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Convicted Murderer Steven L. Robbins Back in Custody After Mistakenly Released

Kevin Horan/Stone(CHICAGO) -- A convicted murderer who was mistakenly released from a Chicago jail is back in custody Saturday, after authorities used leads and interviews with his family and friends to successfully track him down.

Steven L. Robbins, 44, of Gary, Ind., was rearrested without incident late Friday night in northeastern Illinois, and is in the custody of the Cook County Sheriff's Office, said Sheriff Thomas J. Dart in a news release.

Robbins was improperly released from jail as a result of what Dart had called "a clerical error" that was chalked up to an outdated paperwork system.

Robbins was serving a 60-year prison sentence after being convicted of shooting a man who tried to break up an altercation Robbins was having with his wife in Indiana in 2002.

He was brought to Chicago by Cook County sheriff's deputies on Wednesday for 20-year-old outstanding criminal warrant involving drug charges -- but unbeknownst to authorities, the case had actually been dismissed in 2007, reported ABC News Chicago station WLS.

Following the court appearance, Robbins was taken to a jail on the South Side of Chicago, and was subsequently released later in the day, rather than returning to Indiana to continue serving his murder sentence.

Robbins walked out of jail in civilian clothing given to him by the jail, according to ABC's Chicago affiliate WLS.

The Cook County Sheriff's Office launched a campaign to apprehend Robbins on Friday.

Sheriff Thomas Dart pointed to the office's paper records system for the serious slip up.

"Because no paperwork had gone to the jail about him coming from Indiana, all the people in the records room saw was a guy whose court case was dismissed," he said. "And so he -- like another 200 people a day we release -- was released...out the front door of the jail.

"It's all a paper system," Dart said. "And so when people start thinking it's maybe an inside job, the unfortunate reality is all these different detainees that we're dealing with every day -- and we move 1,500 a day -- the entire trail is a paper trail. It's not a computer message from the courtroom to the jail saying, 'Keep him for another 30 days or release him.' It's a piece of paper. We're not happy that it's that way. We've been trying to get it computerized, but it's not there."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Chicago Putting More Cops on the Street in Wake of Teen's Death

Scott Olson/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- A major American city already reeling from a high murder rate was stunned by the shooting death of Hadiya Pendleton, a 15-year-old student at Chicago's King College Prep School and majorette in the band, who performed with her classmates at several inaugural events last week in the nation's capital.

Now, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said enough is enough.

With 42 homicides alone last month, making it the deadliest January in Chicago since 2002, Emanuel announced a new anti-violence initiative on Thursday to try and slow down the mounting body count in his city.

Spurred by the death of Pendleton, who apparently wandered into a gang area on Tuesday, the mayor said he was taking 200 cops off desk duty and putting them on the street.

During a press briefing with reporters, Emanuel addressed Pendleton being cut down before her life had a chance to start, saying, "When any young person in our city is gunned down without reason, their death makes an impression on all of us, and it demands action from all of us."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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