Federal Prosecutors Do What Kimberly Foxx Won't: Enforce The Law
In yet another rebuke of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office under Kimberly Foxx, federal prosecutors announced yesterday three felony charges against a man who is accused of making social media threats to Jason Van Dyke and his family and calling for setting Navy Pier on fire and burning the offices of city aldermen.
The federal charges come after prosecutors under Foxx refused to approve felony charges against the alleged offender, Matthew Ross, who allegedly made the threats during the trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke for the shooting of Laquan McDonald.
Detectives and Fraternal Order of Police representatives were angered by Foxx’s refusal to approve the felony charges. In response, FOP Second Vice President Martin Preib sent a letter to federal prosecutor John Lausch asking that his agency investigate the case:
By refusing felony charges, we believe the local prosecutor, Kimberly Foxx, is refusing to protect the members of our Lodge and has a history of doing so. We also believe that threats of this nature should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and that federal authorities should be aware of them. I am therefore asking you to initiate your own investigation into these allegations and consider charges.
Now Ross is facing up to five years if convicted on each of the three counts against him, according to media reports.
Foxx has faced running criticism by the FOP for what the union calls an abdication of Foxx’s obligations as a prosecutor with a pattern of downgrading charges when officers are the victims, creating lenient policies that encourage lawlessness, and wrongfully exonerating convicted felons.
Indeed, in a second strongly worded letter to Foxx, FOP attorneys recently advised that repeated decisions by prosecutors under Foxx to diminish charges when police are the victims compels FOP attorneys to use the victim rights statutes on behalf of the officers.
The letter came in response to an officer who was bitten by an offender last year and had to undergo treatment for possible HIV infection. Prosecutors under Foxx pled that case down to a misdemeanor without even notifying the officer.
FOP attorney Jim Thompson argued that such decisions violate the rights of officers as crime victims.
“Police officers can be victims too and deserve the right to be heard as all other victims. . . . They did not sign up to be battered, bit and then dismissed as this is just ‘part of the job,’ ” Thompson wrote. “The failure by the Cook County State’s Attorney to recognize this only deepens the mistrust that our members have in the prosecution of their cases. I would ask that you remind Miss Foxx and all your assistants that the above-cited act also applies to police officers.”
But it is not only cases in which police officers are the victims of crimes that the FOP has criticized Foxx. It is also her apparent willingness to overturn convictions that should not have been overturned.
The union, for example, has asked federal immigration authorities to investigate the status of two men released from prison by Foxx, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes. The men had been convicted for the 1993 murders of Jacinta and Mariano Soto and the kidnapping of their two children. Solache and Reyes, who were in the country illegally when the murders were committed, were released earlier this year on the claim that they were coerced into confessing by a Chicago Police detective who worked the case, Reynaldo Guevara.
The retired detective is accused of a pattern of coercing confessions from male suspects.
Foxx’s decision to release Solache and Reyes contradicted that of her predecessor, Anita Alvarez, who stood by the convictions obtained through investigations by Detective Guevara.
From the Sun-Times:
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has decided not to reopen any of six murder cases referred to it by City Hall involving allegations that the men convicted were framed by former Chicago police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.
Prosecutors reviewed the cases and found no cause to reopen any of them, says Fabio Valentini, a top prosecutor for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
In one of the most bizarre acts under a Cook County prosecutor, Foxx’s top assistant agreed the men were guilty.
From the Chicago Tribune:
First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .
After their release, the FOP wrote to Thomas Homan, Deputy Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), asking that federal authorities take action to keep the men out of the country:
The FOP has been extremely critical of the prosecutor’s tactics in this case and the ultimate decision not to retry the men.
When the two men were released from custody, federal officials reportedly took them into custody. We have subsequently learned that the men may be maneuvering to either remain in the country or return. We believe this is the kind of abuse of the immigration system that has generated so much criticism by the public and in the media. The presence of these men in the country could pose a danger to the public.
We therefore urge your office, and any federal agency that has influence upon this situation, to take measures so that these men cannot legally remain in the country.
Due largely to the arbitrary decision by Foxx to release the men, their attorneys have now filed a massive federal lawsuit against Guevara and other detectives.