Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Good News From The Skokie Courthouse

We heard from one of the court advocates who went to court Tuesday regarding the gang member who tagged the building at Kenmore and Irving Park:

"We had a good group of court advocates there... representing Buena Park, Truman Square and Graceland West.  A couple even took the morning off work to attend, which was much appreciated, particularly in view of the afternoon's weather!

The case involved Brian Michael Capodanno, a Latin Eagles gang member who was caught with black paint on his hands and a spray can.  He was seen by the police on December 28th spray painting gang tags (upside down pitchforks, upside down crowns and the words "Almighty Latin Eagles") on the sides of the apartment building.

We thought the day's appearance would be a quick arraignment hearing, where the judge sees the defendant for the first time, reads the charges to him, and bail is either set or denied.  We wanted there to be a noticeable community presence in the courtroom for this first part of the trial process, just to set the tone that this was something Uptowners felt strongly about.  We thought we'd be there about a half hour.  Mr. Capodanno had other ideas, though, and wanted to get things over with by pleading guilty and entering into a plea bargain.  So whoops!  Plan B!

The damage he caused was so expensive (more than $7000 to clean it up!) that it went from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, with a penalty of 1 - 3 years.  Because of his past criminal history (2 felonies, 4 misdemeanors), he was eligible for up to 6 years in prison.  When his attorney and the two Assistant States Attorneys got done bargaining, he accepted an offer of 30 months in prison, with 32 days credit for time served.  Even if he only serves half his time, he'll be in jail for at least 15 months, pretty big price to pay for one night of property damage.

We found out during the evidence review that he painted one side of the building with tags that stretched for 90 feet, and another side of the building with tags for 70 feet.  [I feel he did the other similar tagging on buildings all along Kenmore that same week, but of course there's no way to prove that.]  He also was on probation at the time for a misdemeanor for domestic abuse.  He told the cops when they arrested him that he was doing such a large tag because he was filming it to submit to a YouTube channel that showcases gang graffiti!  What aspirations!!

Judge Catherine Haberkorn was really admirable.  She gestured to us during the sentencing phase and told Mr. Capodanno that she felt he had endangered the people who live in that building by painting gang symbols on it, which could have led to retribution to the tenants.  She also mentioned the cost to the building's owner to remove the tags, which Mr. Capodanno could not make restitution on.  [He gave the court advocates a dirty look.]  She also told him his actions were "ridiculous," especially since he did the crime just to be a "star" on YouTube.  She ended up by telling him, "Well, now you can be a star in the Illinois Penal System."  Go, Judge Haberkorn!

Afterwards, one of the ASAs told us that our presence was important in his plea bargain because when there's property damage, and no owner or neighbor comes to court, the judges tend to be more lenient and think that the neighborhood is in decline and no one cares.  This owner didn't come to court Tuesday because it was supposed to be just an arraignment.  So I'm really glad we were there.  It was a much longer day than any of us thought it would be, and that was kind of draining, but the case is over and we all thought it was a happy resolution to the case.  ASA Joy Nelson from the Northside Center for Justice was great and also very pleased with how it turned out.

Mr. Capodanno is 29 and lives on the South Side and came up to Uptown to perform his crimes.  The cops in Beat 2322 did a stellar job of catching him in the act and arresting him.  I hope that the word gets out that we've got good cops, that Uptowners care and show up in court, and a year and a half of your life will be spent in prison if you spray paint your stupid symbols in our neighborhood."


  1. Great story! Best news of the day.
    Buh Bye tagger scumbag.

  2. I'm shaking my head over finding that the perp came up here from the South Side just to do some tagging...between that crap, the *other* graffiti "artists", the robbers and burglars and "drug retailers", it sounds like we really DO need to make like gangbusters (literally and figuratively) to make it clear that we won't tolerate crime in our neighborhood--particularly those who come a-vistin' from elsewhere to conduct their criminal enterprises here in Uptown.

  3. The gang guys of the south side are unconsciously trying to keep uptown as a northside ghetto.

    Apparently they are also drawn to uptown because of its own resident gangs and the chance to piss them off.

    Glad to hear there were so many court advocates there from uptown. I dont have time to do that. Thats why I pickup litter because thats important too. Graffiti is the worst form of blight on neigborhoods and doing so much tagging and tagging that can cause gangware should carry a heavy penalty. Kudos!

  4. Hate to break everyone's bubble, but Ill Dept of Corrections (IDOC) rules state that unless its a crime of violence (which it isnt), then 61 days counts as one year in IDOC. So with his one month already served in County, he will spend about one month in IDOC and then released, so expect to see him back out on the street soon. The criminal system is totally broken in Crook County and IDOC. He took an easy deal cause he knew he only had 30 days to serve and it got him out of that hell hole at 26th and Calif and into a nice easy IDOC pen. Sent from a serving police ofc.

  5. Alpha Reindeer, I'm not a cop nor a States Attorney, but that's not what I understood from what I heard in court. Any time that asshat spends behind bars is good, though.

    Then there's the little matter of him committing the felony while on parole. Doesn't that mean they can go after him to finish the entirety of that sentence, too?

    We are in total agreement that the justice system is broken. No reason people with 100 or 300 arrests are given slaps on the wrist and put back on the streets. I'm just glad to add to this guy's felony count. Three felonies and four misdemeanors and he hasn't attained the age of 30 yet. What a champ.

  6. Kudos to the the court advocates who took time off to attend this court case! The perp will be off the street for 15 months, less the 61 days "time considered served". It sends a powerful message to his buddies that we take this stuff seriously. I did the math ( it's not hard, Barbie) and came up with 12 more months off the street. That should give him plenty of time to think!

  7. Unfortunately, the criminal courts can sentence him to anything they want. IDOC sets there own rules, and under IDOC rules, 61 days in a state pen equates to a year served off his sentence. IDOC only has to observe the 80% rule on sentences when it is a crime of violence. It is true that he 'may' get slammed on his remaining time for whatever he is out on parole for, but once again that is up to the IDOC parole board to decide. They may or may not force him to serve out the remainder of his previous sentence, but judging from how overcrowded IDOC is, and how broke the state is, I highly doubt that will happen. This is one of the reasons many of us (police officers) are so jaded by the system. We can arrest this trash, build a good case against him, get support from the community (sometimes) and still these a-holes are out of jail often before the ink is dry on the police report. The judge gave him a good sentence, but IDOC will end up releasing him ASAP.