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SHERIFF’S POLICE USE HOLIDAY SHOPPING RUSE TO SNARE WANTED FUGITIVES

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Sunday, December 21, 2008 —Wanted fugitives, thinking they just won at least $500 to aid in their holiday shopping, instead found themselves in handcuffs when Cook County Sheriff’s officials arrested them during a sting operation at a Chicago hotel, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

          The ruse was part of a comprehensive fugitive sweep that resulted in the arrest of 230 suspects on warrants ranging from DUI and aggravated battery to a police officer to  failure to pay child support, forgery, retail theft and unlawful use of a weapon.

          During the first phase of the operation, more than 60 offenders responded to a mailing from the fictitious “Shoptastic Solutions.” The mailing announced they had been selected to participate in a shopping survey to aid local retail stores in their efforts to determine shoppers’ needs for the remainder of the holiday season. The mailer encouraged the offenders to call a number to make a reservation to take the survey during the weekend of Dec. 6-7 at a local hotel.  

          The mailer also included a “scratch off” card. Offenders were encouraged to scratch off the box to reveal a cash prize or double the amount in gift cards. Offenders were instructed to bring the card with them to redeem their prize once they completed the survey.

          Over two days, 61 offenders wanted on crimes ranging from aggravated DUI to failing to pay child support, arrived at a south side hotel conference room and were promptly taken into custody as they were seated to take the survey.

          “Wanted fugitives continue to find ways to elude the law and forgo paying their debt to society,” Sheriff Dart said. “We will continue to find creative ways to draw them out from the shadows and bring them to justice.”

 
Among the offenders arrested during the hotel sting were:

Derrick Johnson, 31, 6726 S. Artesian, Chicago. A warrant was issued for Johnson in June, 2008, after he violated his supervision on a DUI charge in Sauk Village two years earlier. He has six previous convictions on charges ranging from larceny to forgery to obstruction of justice.   

Raymond Russell, 56, of 7326 S. Bennett, Chicago. A warrant was issued for Russell for failing to pay child support for the last 13 years. In all, Russell owes $89,979.19 in back child support payments for a son born in 1995.

Justin Taylor, 27, of 1560 St. Andrew Circle, Elgin. Taylor had an outstanding warrant for driving on a suspended/ revoked license when he arrived driving his own car to participate in the “survey.” Once in custody, police found 2.5 grams of marijuana in his pocket. He told officers he planned to celebrate with the drugs after collecting his money from the survey. He was later additionally charged with driving on a revoked license and possession of cannabis.    

          During a second phase of the operation, offenders who made reservations to participate and failed to show, as well as others wanted on outstanding arrest warrants, were taken into custody during a two-week fugitive warrant sweep held Dec. 8-20 across Cook County. In all, 169 people were arrested during this part of the investigation.

          They include:

Bryan Rautenberg, 25, of 1015 W. 32nd St, Chicago. When police arrived at Rautenberg’s home and took him into custody on a warrant for failure to render aid, they observed several jars of marijuana in the living room. A further search of the apartment revealed a sophisticated indoor crop of psilocybin mushrooms in various stages of growth and a bedroom partitioned off with two marijuana plants surrounded by high powered grow lights. Officers confiscated the drugs, with an estimated combined street value of more than $16,000, and charged him with additional drug charges. Rautenberg has 12 prior convictions for dangerous drugs.

Lunden Donaldson, 18, of 338 W. 107th Place, Chicago. Police were looking for a relative of Donaldson’s who was not home when they arrived. Lunden Donaldson, who also lived there, invited the officers into the house where they observed marijuana in an open dresser drawer and an SKS high powered assault rifle sticking out from under a bed. During a search of the room, officers also confiscated a fully-loaded .40 caliber handgun and 28 rounds of ammunition for the rifle. Donaldson, who has 13 prior convictions for weapons offenses, was charged with unlawful use of a weapon by a felon.

Robert Quarles, 24, 6125 S. Kenwood Ave., Chicago. Quarles was wanted on an outstanding arrest warrant for aggravated battery to a Chicago police officer in May, 2008.When the officer attempted to place him into custody, Quarles resisted and punched the officer in the head, fled and was caught a short time later. He later admitted to drinking earlier in the evening. Quarles has 8 prior convictions for assault.

 
Sheriff Dart thanked the Sheriff’s Police Fugitive Warrants Unit, Women’s Justice Services, Electronic Monitoring Fugitive Unit, and Child Support Division for their cooperative efforts during this operation.

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