WBEZ | federal prosecutors http://www.wbez.org/tags/federal-prosecutors Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Joliet lashes back at federal prosecutors over housing suit http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-August/2011-08-05/Thanas.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>A top Joliet official is lashing back at federal prosecutors for suing his city to block condemnation of a low-income housing complex called Evergreen Terrace.<br> <br> The suit, a civil complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accuses Joliet of violating the Fair Housing Act, trying to “perpetuate segregation,” and attempting to “limit or reduce the number of Black or African-American residents residing within the city.”<br> <br> City Manager Tom Thanas called the suit a legal maneuver to “wear us down” by lengthening Joliet’s six-year legal battle for authority to condemn the complex. “This is at a time when Joliet doesn’t have the financial resources to take on big litigation,” Thanas said Friday afternoon. “We, like other municipalities around the country, are suffering with declining revenues and increasing expenses.”<br> <br> Thanas stuck by the city’s claim that Evergreen Terrace, a privately owned 356-unit development, has too many police and fire calls. But whether to keep fighting for condemnation authority is up to Joliet elected officials, Thanas added. “That’s something we’ll be reviewing with the mayor and city council,” he said.<br> <br> The complex houses about 765 low-income residents, nearly all African-American, and abuts the Des Plaines River across from downtown Joliet.<br> <br> Joliet’s attempts to close Evergreen Terrace stretch back more than a decade. The city tried to block refinancing for the complex but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development sunk in millions of dollars.<br> <br> In 2005, Joliet asked a state court for condemnation authority. The HUD stake sent the condemnation bid into the federal court system, where it remains.<br> <br> The property’s owners, New West Limited Partnership and New Bluff Limited Partnership, filed a federal suit against the condemnation. A group of residents filed another federal suit against it. One of those residents, Teresa Davis, also filed a complaint with HUD, which led to Thursday’s U.S. Department of Justice suit.<br> <br> Joliet officials say the city for years has planned to redevelop the site for affordable housing and help relocate the residents.<br> <br> But Thursday’s suit claims “the city has no meaningful plan” for those aims.<br> <br> Patrick Johnson, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, said Friday afternoon that prosecutors held discussions with Joliet officials before filing the suit. Johnson called those talks unsuccessful and said the sides have scheduled no other settlement negotiations. Next week, he added, the government will motion for its suit to be joined with the other federal suits aimed at preserving Evergreen Terrace. Johnson said the case’s discovery phase could last at least a year.<br> <br> Asked whether the government was just trying to wear down Joliet, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors would have no further comment.<br> <br> An Evergreen Terrace resident, for his part, said the federal suit was already having an effect — bringing some positive attention to the complex. “I don’t see much wrong with the place,” said Elvis Foster, 53, who lives in a one-bedroom apartment and serves on the tenant council. “You’re close to downtown. You got the Joliet Junior College just two blocks away. And [the complex] is not feared as much as people would say.”</p></p> Fri, 05 Aug 2011 21:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/joliet-lashes-back-federal-prosecutors-over-housing-suit-90203 Bank closes Arab-American leader’s accounts, won’t say why http://www.wbez.org/story/bank-closes-arab-american-leader%E2%80%99s-accounts-won%E2%80%99t-say-why-86355 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-May/2011-05-10/Hatem2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>An Arab-American leader whose Chicago home the FBI raided last fall now has a problem with his bank — make that his former bank.<br> <br> Hatem Abudayyeh, 40, executive director of a city-funded group called the Arab American Action Network, is among <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/activists-defy-orders-testify">almost two dozen Midwest activists</a> who have refused orders since September to testify before a federal grand jury in Chicago.<br> <br> Abudayyeh’s subpoena came during a raid that month on the Jefferson Park condo he shares with his wife and their 5-year-old daughter. The search warrant named the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular group the U.S. government calls a terrorist organization.<br> <br> Abudayyeh, a lifelong Chicagoan, got another jolt last Friday. TCF Bank, part of Minnesota-based TCF Financial Corp., had frozen his family’s checking and savings accounts.<br> <br> TCF spokesman Jason Korstange won’t say why. “There’s privacy issues,” he said Tuesday. “They will be getting their money back, and that’s about all I can tell you.”<br> <br> A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald declined to comment about the accounts. A spokesman of the FBI’s Chicago office said he didn’t know anything about them.<br> <br> But Abudayyeh attorney Michael Deutsch said the feds must have subpoenaed TCF for records on the accounts. “The bank is probably saying, ‘Oh, God, we don’t want this person as a customer,’ ” Deutsch said.<br> <br> Officials haven’t charged Abudayyeh or any of the other activists.</p></p> Wed, 11 May 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/bank-closes-arab-american-leader%E2%80%99s-accounts-won%E2%80%99t-say-why-86355 Activists defy orders to testify http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/activists-defy-orders-testify <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Maureen_Murphy.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Some Palestine solidarity activists are defying orders to appear before a grand jury in Chicago.<br /><br />The FBI delivered subpoenas last month to at least nine Chicago-area residents. But their spokespersons say none showed up to testify Tuesday.<br /><br />The nine include Maureen Murphy, 28, an Andersonville resident who volunteers with the <a href="http://psgchicago.org/">Palestine Solidarity Group&ndash;Chicago</a> and edits <a href="http://electronicintifada.net/">Electronic Intifada</a>, an online journal about the Israeli occupation.<br /><br />&ldquo;There&rsquo;s been no crime committed here,&rdquo; Murphy said Tuesday. &ldquo;This investigation is all about obtaining associational information that infringes on our First Amendment rights to organize.&rdquo;<br /><br />In September the FBI raided homes and an office of several organizers in Chicago and Minneapolis. They were among 14 activists in Illinois, Minnesota and Michigan who refused to appear before a grand jury in Chicago in October. <br /><br />Some of the September subpoenas suggest the government is investigating foreign groups it calls terrorist.<br /><br />Officials haven&rsquo;t charged any of the activists or confirmed that the September and December subpoenas are part of the same investigation. Randall Samborn, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, said officials could not comment on the proceedings. <br /><br />Attorneys for the Chicago-area activists say they&rsquo;ve written Fitzgerald&rsquo;s office, asserting Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.<br /><br />Prosecutors could offer immunity from charges and issue new subpoenas. The activists could eventually face jail time if found in contempt of court.</p></p> Tue, 25 Jan 2011 22:34:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/andersonville/activists-defy-orders-testify