Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=170690
Story Retrieval Date: 3/9/2014 11:46:14 AM CST
Meghan A. Dwyer/MEDILL
A Cook County judge late last month found a man not guilty of dealing cocaine after police found drugs and weapons at a condo owned by Chicago’s highest-ranking female police officer in February 2009.
Casey Crawford, 30, was charged after police found nearly 170 grams of cocaine stuffed inside a PlayStation console at 4553 W. 56th St. Police also found four stolen firearms hidden in a closet, ammunition and a digital scale. According to the court file, the cocaine had a street value of $21,875.
Crawford allegedly lived at the condo with his girlfriend, Michaelene Yolich, the daughter of Assistant Superintendent of Administration for the Chicago Police Department Beatrice Cuello, who owned the residence but did not live there.
But according to Gal Pissetzky, one of Crawford’s attorneys, the prosecution was unable to prove that Crawford actually lived at the condo, or that the drugs belonged to him.
Police did not arrest Yolich, and prosecutors never charged Crawford with any firearms violations. According to the Cook County recorder of deeds, Cuello still owns the property.
Police Supt. Jody Weis told reporters at a press conference after the incident that Cuello knew nothing of any illegal activity, and neither she nor her daughter had any involvement.
Pissetzky said that during the course of the trial, prosecutors subpoenaed utility bills in an attempt to show that Crawford lived at the residence. But those bills, Pissetzky said, were in Yolich’s and Cuello’s names.
Pissetzky also said that the police failed to fingerprint the PlayStation or seize any of the male clothing from the bedroom where the drugs and weapons were found. Without proving that the closet contained items belonging to Crawford, prosecutors were unable to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the drugs were his.
“It wasn’t that we put on a case,” Pissetzky said. “We argued reasonable doubt.”
According to the arrest report, Crawford cooperated with police and voluntarily told them that anything illegal in the apartment was his. Police initially acted on a tip from a criminal informant who said Crawford had illegal firearms in the residence. The search warrant didn’t mention drugs or Cuello.
At trial, Pissetzky said, Circuit Court Judge Michael Howlett found that Crawford’s statement, by itself, was not enough to prove that the drugs were his. Because police failed to follow up on the statement, by seizing clothes or mail or fingerprinting the PlayStation or digital scale, Pissetzky said, prosecutors couldn’t prove their case.
“The Chicago Police, they don’t do their job in the right way,” Pissetzky said. “They would have easily won this case if they had done it right.”
The Chicago Police Department and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office had no comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.