Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Brian Woodworth
Time (:20-:25 ea)


The director of operations of a north suburban restaurant on Monday said he doesn't believe any customers were victimized by a manager charged on allegations he stole identities to pay for his fixation with Walt Disney World.

Alexander Pera, 26, of Chicago was arrested July 2 and charged with aggravated identity theft, identity theft and money laundering, according to Lincolnshire police. Authorities said he took 15 trips to theme park resorts in a four-month period under false names obtained during his employment with Eddie Merlot's restaurant.

"We are very sad to learn of this isolated incident at this one location," restaurant spokesman Bruce Kraus told NBC Chicago on Monday. "Based on our preliminary investigation, we do not believe that any customer’s purchase of food or beverage was involved in the incident. Rest assured we will be going above and beyond to rectify the issue with any affected patron. We will continue to cooperate with authorities and remain vigilant."

Police, however, allege Pera stole the identities of at least 50 people, both customers and former employees, for a total of more than $50,000 during his time as manager of the establishment. Much of the money was spent on 15 different Walt Disney World Resort stays in five months, and two cruises aboard Disney Cruise Line this past spring, a statement from police said.

Pera facilitated the crimes by providing fraudulent information to the Disney Company and the airlines when making travel plans.
Police said his reservations would be made using false names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses, and they were paid for with fraudulently obtained gift and pre-paid credit cards, purchases with stolen credit card numbers and cash.

Pera, of the 3800 block of North Ottawa Avenue, was arrested on his way to work and police found fake IDs, gift cards and a loaded handgun in his possession, a statement from police said.

In bond court on July 3, Judge Raymond Collins ordered Pera held in the Lake County Jail on a $500,000 bond.

The arrest was the culmination of a joint investigation started in late May by the Orange County (Fla.) Sheriffs office, Lincolnshire police and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, police said.

Eddie Merlot’s was cooperating with the investigation as police sought other victims. Anyone who dined at the restaurant and later had their credit card compromised or was the victim of ID theft should call police at 847-913-2349.

A man was arrested after allegedly stealing the identities of fifty people, both customers and former employees of Eddie Merlot’s Restaurant. Police say the man was arrested in his car on his way to work and was in possession of fake IDs, gift cards and a loaded gun.
The restaurant, Eddie Merlot’s, is cooperating with police and anyone who has dined at the restaurant and later had their credit card compromised or was the victim of identity theft are urged to call police.


LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec/CHICAGO (Reuters) - The death toll in Quebec's oil train disaster jumped to 13 people on Monday and police said about 37 more people were missing, a sign the derailment and explosion could be the worst accident in Canada since the Swissair crash of 1998.

Police said they estimated a total of around 50 people were either dead or missing after the gigantic blast destroyed dozens of buildings in the center of Lac-Megantic early on Saturday.

Previously they had said five people were dead and 40 were missing. Given the devastation in the town center, few residents expect any of the missing to be found alive.

The coroner's office asked relatives of the missing to bring in toothbrushes, hair brushes, combs and razors so specialists could extract DNA samples from strands of hair.

If the death toll does hit 50, that would make it Canada's deadliest accident since 229 people died in 1998 when a Swissair jet crashed into the sea off eastern Canada.

Asked when authorities would declare the missing people dead, police spokesman Benoit Richard replied: "When we find the bodies."

The runaway oil tanker train derailed in the town of 6,000 people shortly after 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, causing a huge explosion and deadly ball of flame.

Air brakes that would have prevented the disaster failed because they were powered by an engine that was shut down by firefighters as they dealt with a fire shortly before the calamity occurred, the head of the railway that operated the train said on Monday.

The train had been parked at a siding on a slope near the town of Nantes, which is 12 kilometers (8 miles) west of Lac-Megantic. The volunteer Nantes fire service was called out late on Friday night to deal with an engine fire on one of the train's locomotives.

Nantes Fire Chief Patrick Lambert told Reuters the crew had switched off the engine as they extinguished a "good-sized" blaze in the engine, probably caused by a fuel or oil line break in the engine.


The problem was that the engine had been left on by the train's engineer to maintain pressure in the air brakes, Ed Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), said in an interview. As the pressure gradually "leaked off," the air brakes failed and the train began to slide downhill, he said.

The fire service said it contacted a local MMA dispatcher in Farnham, Quebec, after the blaze was out. "We told them what we did and how we did it," Lambert said.

Asked whether there had been any discussion about the brakes, he replied: "There was no discussion of the brakes at that time. We were there for the train fire. As for the inspection of the train after the fact, that was up to them."

It was not immediately clear what the MMA dispatcher did after speaking with the fire service. Burkhardt said the fire service should have also tried to contact the train's operator, who was staying at a nearby hotel.

"If the engine was shut off, someone should have made a report to the local railroad about that," he said.

Andre Gendron, 38, lives on a wooded property next to the rail yard in Nantes. He said he was burning a campfire outside his trailer on Friday night when he heard the fire trucks.

"About five minutes after the firemen left, I felt the vibration of a train moving down the track. I then saw the train move by without its lights on," Gendron told Reuters.

"I found it strange its lights weren't on and thought it was an electrical problem on board. It wasn't long after that I heard the explosion. I could see the light from the fires in Lac-Megantic."

Federal Transport Minister Denis Lebel said inspectors from his department had examined the locomotive on July 5, the day before the disaster, and found nothing wrong.

Canadian crash investigators say they will look at the two sets of brakes on the train: the airbrakes and the handbrakes. Members of the team are due to speak to reporters at 10 a.m. (1400 GMT) on Tuesday.

Burkhardt said that after the pressure leaked out of the airbrakes, the handbrakes would not have been strong enough to keep the train in place.

During the course of the day police relaxed the security perimeter around the center of Lac-Megantic, a lakeside town near the border with Maine. Authorities said that over the next few days around 1,500 of the 2,000 people who had been evacuated would be allowed to go back home.

One of the destroyed buildings was a music bar popular with young people, and witnesses reported fleeing the area around the building as the heat and flames closed in.

Montreal Maine & Atlantic is one of many North American railroads that have vastly stepped up shipments of crude oil as pipelines from North Dakota and from oil-producing regions in Western Canada fill to capacity, and the accident is bound to raise concern about the practice of transporting oil by rail.

(Additional reporting by Julie Gordon in Lac-Megantic; Writing by David Ljunggren and Janet Guttsman; Editing by Peter Galloway and Eric Walsh)

The death toll of the deadly train crash in Quebec, Canada has risen today to thirteen today and forty-seven are still missing. Police said they estimated a total of around fifty people were either dead or missing after the gigantic blast destroyed dozens of buildings in the center of Lac-Megantic early on Saturday.
Investigations continue as to the cause of the crash that happened early Saturday morning. Ed Burkhardt, chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), says brakes of the train are to blame.
Canadian crash investigators say they will look at the two sets of brakes on the train: the airbrakes and the handbrakes. Members of the team are due to speak to reporters at ten a.m. (1400 GMT) today.

A 12-year-old boy died after a canoe capsized in a northwest suburban retention pond Monday evening, authorities said.
Two teenagers were rescued from the Harvard pond after the boat tipped, but the 12-year-old was located by a dive team and pronounced dead shortly after, authorities said.
About 7:30 p.m., officials from the Harvard Community Fire Protection District rushed to the pond in the 800 block of Apple Valley Road after learning that a canoe had capsized.
One of the two survivors had been brought to safety by a bystander by the time firefighters arrived, Battalion Chief Daniel Danczyk said.
"The other one was still clinging to the canoe when we got here," Danczyk said."He was rescued by fire personnel."
Divers began searching for the canoe's third occupant, calling off the search about 8:30 p.m. when the boy was found, officials said.
The boy was taken to Mercy Harvard Hospital as paramedics continued efforts to save his life, Danczyk said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly after.

Two teenagers were rescued from the Harvard pond after their boat tipped, but unfortunately a third boy died. Authorities say a dive team found the twelve-year-old boy in a northwest suburban retention pond.
The boy was taken to Mercy Harvard Hospital as paramedics continued efforts to bring him to life, but he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The suspect in a double-stabbing in northwest suburban Crystal Lake last week was arrested today in Alabama, officials said.

Jimmy Bell Jr., who had been named in arrest warrants issued after a July 2 stabbing of a couple was arrested at 1 p.m. in Tuscaloosa, Ala. by members of the U.S. Marshal's Great Lakes Regional Fugitive Task Force and Tuscaloosa, Ala. police, Crystal Lake police said in a press release.

Bell, 30, of Elgin was charged with two counts of attempted murder in arrest warrants, police said. Police said the stabbing was domestic-related but did not provide any more details.

At about 4:17 a.m.,  last Tuesday, Crystal Lake police where called to a home on the 1500 block of Isle Royal Circle for a report of two people being injured.

When police arrived they found that a 28-year-old woman and her 23-year-old boyfriend had sustained multiple stab wounds, police said. The suspect had fled the scene.

The two were initially listed in critical condition. The woman has since been released from the hospital while the man remains hospitalized. His condition has stabilized, police said.

Bell traveled to Alabama where he has family immediately following the incident in Crystal Lake, police said. He was arrested  in the home of a cousin. Bell is being held in the Tuscaloosa County Jail.

Officials say a man suspected in a double-stabbing in Crystal Lake was arrested in Alabama.
The stabbing, which happened last Tuesday, left a twenty-eight-year-old woman and her twenty-three-year-old boyfriend with multiple stab wounds.
Police say the two victims were listed in critical condition at the time, but since the woman has been released from the hospital and the man remains hospitalized in stable condition.

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