Chicago News Headlines for Wednesday, Dec. 4
Updated at 12:25 p.m.
- Chicago’s interim police superintendent, Charlie Beck, has demoted a commander whom the city’s inspector general is accusing of directing on-duty officers to babysit his son. Beck’s demotion of Commander Anthony Escamilla to captain is one of his first moves since Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Monday that she was firing Superintendent Eddie Johnson.
- A published report says several Chicago police employees are under investigation for an alleged cover-up of the incident that led to Johnson being fired. The Sun-Times reports the unnamed employees allegedly concealed details of an October 17 incident when Johnson was found sleeping in his parked police SUV. Mayor Lightfoot fired Johnson after she said he lied to her about what happened. Johnson was found in his vehicle around 12:30 a.m. Citing sources, the Sun-Times reports Johnson spent 3 hours drinking at a downtown restaurant with a woman who was part of his security detail. The sources told the Sun-Times that restaurant video shows Johnson and the woman kissing repeatedly. Johnson released a statement Tuesday saying he did not "intentionally mislead or deceive" anyone about the October incident.
- BMO Financial Group is cutting more than 300 jobs in the Chicago area. Crain’s reports the Toronto-based parent of BMO Harris Bank is making cuts across its total workforce to save costs. BMO has more than 7,000 workers in the Chicago region.
- A whistle-blower lawsuit accuses Lisle-based Navistar International Inc. of bilking almost $1.3 billion from the U.S. Department of Defense. Bloomberg reports that the suit was filed in federal court in Washington. It accuses Navistar's defense unit of inflating prices for parts used in military vehicles that have been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Navistar denies the allegation.
- Chicago-based United Airlines will replace some of its older Boeing planes with 50 new Airbus jets starting in 2024. United says it placed an order for Airbus A321XLR jets, a long-range version of the European company’s single-aisle A321neo. They will eventually replace United’s 53 Boeing 757-200s. Terms weren’t released. United also will delay delivery of larger Airbus A350s. The decision is a setback for Chicago-based Boeing, which is reeling from the grounding of its 737 Max jets after two deadly crashes.
- A former Chicago police commander who stole more than $360,000 won’t have to go to prison. A federal judge Tuesday sentenced Kenneth Johnson to two years of probation. The sentence includes six months of community confinement and an order to pay back the money. Johnson pleaded guilty to collecting his mother’s Social Security payments for 23 years after she died.
- Chicago police say investigators have arrested more than 50 people accused of using private Facebook groups and messages to sell guns or drugs. Officials blamed the social media company for complicating such cases by taking down investigators’ fake profiles during a Tuesday press conference announcing results of the two-year investigation.
- Southern Illinois University in downstate Carbondale has a new president. Dan Mahony is stepping down as president of Winthrop University in South Carolina to take the top post at SIU. University trustees are expected to meet Thursday to approve his new appointment.
- The Vatican has postponed plans to beatify a former Peoria priest. The planned move would bring Archbishop Fulton Sheen one step from sainthood. But the Vatican has put off the decision, without explaining why. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria said that Sheen’s life has been investigated and his virtue has not been called into question. Sheen was ordained in Peoria in 1919 and died in 1979. He was known for his radio and TV preaching.
- Driver services offices in Chicago and the suburbs are adding hours to meet the high demand for Real-IDs. Americans will be required to have a U.S. passport or Real-ID to board domestic flights starting in October. The Secretary of State’s Chicago North and South offices will be open on Saturdays, beginning December 30th. Mondays will be dedicated to Real-ID customers only. Suburban offices will expand Saturday hours.
- Lake Michigan could reach its highest water levels in 30 years in early 2020. The Army Corps of Engineers predicts the lake will continue to rise in the new year. That will mean continued risks of damaging erosion on the lakefront in Chicago and northwest Indiana.
- Chicago Blackhawks assistant Marc Crawford will be away from the team while it reviews his conduct with another organization. The Blackhawks didn’t provide any details about what they are examining, but former NHL forward Sean Avery recently told the New York Post that Crawford kicked him after he was whistled for a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty when he played for Crawford with the Los Angeles Kings during the 2006-07 season.
- The Blackhawks (10-12-5) are in Boston against the Bruins (19-3-5) at 6 p.m. CST.
- The Chicago Bulls (7-14) host the Memphis Grizzlies (6-14) at 7 p.m. CST.