The next morning, Pat drove Clare to the train station at 91st Street. It was only a short distance from their home, but Pat, a retired teacher, always insisted on giving Clare a ride. Usually, she would wait with him in the car until they saw the lights flashing at the 95th Street station; that was Clare’s cue to kiss him goodbye and make for the train, leather brief case in hand.
She enjoyed her work, but had many responsibilities which often left her drained at the end of the day. By the time she had finished interviewing witnesses, writing memos and pouring over the fine print of legal documents, she was exhausted. Pat was only too happy to lighten her load in whatever way he could.
Once back home, he called Eileen Murphy. He and Clare had met her several times now, and they found her both approachable and sensitive to their concerns. She picked up right away.
“Oh, Pat. Let’s see, the court date is Thursday. Is that why you’re calling?”
“No, Eileen—my guess is the court date may be a waste of time.”
Voice shaking, Pat went over the events of the previous day.
“Oh, my God—this is unbelievable!” exclaimed Eileen. There was no
mistaking the shock in her reaction. She told the McGurn family two months earlier that Immigration Custom Enforcement or ICE would pick Orizaga up and place him in a federal detention facility if a $25,000.00 bond was produced.
“I’ll head to court right away and get my judge to start warrant proceedings to get Orizaga back. I’ll also change the bond and send out deputies to look for him.”
“Hey, Eileen, what happened here?” Pat blurted. “This looks like—well, you know—a screw-up.”
“For sure Pat. I had no idea, but let me get back to you, and—who knows?—maybe we can find him.”
Slowly, Pat began cleaning up the breakfast dishes. There was not much to do since it was just him and Clare—they had been “empty nesters” for some time. As he stacked the stainless steel dishwasher, he brooded over “next steps.” He was facing new territory and needed to figure out who he could trust to be of assistance.
Clare, of course, was his main confidante and advisor—always had been. Michael, his lawyer son, would also help. So would his daughter, Molly, and her husband, Frank, both journalists. Eileen Murphy—probably, but she was part of the bureaucracy and had to play the game. Perhaps Clare could get a lead on the lawyer, since she worked for the Illinois Grievance Commission.
As ideas surfaced, Pat jotted down a few notes on some scrap paper. He remembered that Eileen had told the family of Orizaga’s prior felony conviction in 2009.
“Why didn’t they deport this creep the first time? How could they let him out?” he muttered to himself. In all likelihood, some part-timer had failed to look at the sheet. Who was on duty? Wasn’t there a detainer flag? Better call Judy and see who signed the release, he wrote. Then he added, Get out my notes on the Secure Communities Task Force testimony. Pat had given that report three weeks earlier. Who knows? Maybe there was a lead there.
He recalled the emotion from that day when he had recounted, with graphic detail, the tragic event of two months prior. The Department of Homeland Security had commissioned the Task Force that was on a five-city tour to elicit input from various communities. Chicago was the third stop, scheduled after L.A. and Dallas. This Task Force was charged with preparing a report on how best to deal with the growing problem of undocumented immigrants. From press reports in mid-July, Pat had learned of the meeting scheduled in Chicago and had signed up to testify. He figured that the Task Force should hear his testimony. Arriving early, he was scheduled as the second speaker; he would be permitted to give a four-minute speech.
The meeting was held at Haymarket Hall, on Washington Street. When Pat arrived, the place was filled with hundreds of demonstrators, mainly Mexicans. There were also a number of people who appeared to be old 60’s radicals there, along with ten or more Catholic priests. The crowd was extremely noisy and aggressive, carrying signs that read, “STOP DEPORTATIONS AND FUCK ICE.” The scene at Haymarket Hall, complete with heated interruptions and fist pounding, was unsettling, to say the least, but the whole demonstration seemed well-organized. Pat figured that if the demonstrators knew the truth about what happened to his brother, maybe wisdom would prevail.
It took almost twenty minutes for the raucous crowd to settle down. The first speaker was a middle-aged Mexican woman who testified that her husband had been deported some months back, in what she described as a set-up. Hearing her emotional testimony, the crowd again grew angry, even insisting that all cops leave the building. Unprepared for this turn of events, the Task Force seemed to be somewhat intimidated. There were more delays, but, finally, the chair called his name. The noise was deafening, but, determined to have his say, Pat yelled into the microphone, “SILENZIO!” Surprisingly, some four hundred people settled down, and he proceeded, in his best teacher manner, to go over the events of that fateful June 8, 2011. Near the end of his presentation, no one could hear a pin drop.
Pat walked out quietly, followed by two news reporters and a representative of Public Radio, which would broadcast his remarks off and on for the next forty-eight hours. After about ten minutes of interviews, Pat excused himself and said he had to meet someone. He was emotionally drained.
Setting that memory aside, Pat poured himself a cup of coffee. The large red mug— his favorite—gave a touch of ordinariness to the day, something he desperately needed! The whole saga was a real mystery, with all sorts of fuck-ups—maybe going back three years, because of Orizaga’s prior felony. To make this a larger story, he would not only need a journalist, but, more urgently, advice from someone who knew about criminality and alien criminal immigrants. There was a chance, of course, that human error was behind Orizaga’s release, but the signs were pointing to something more sinister.
As he continued compiling an inventory of helpful resources, his phone rang yet again.
“Pat, Eileen Murphy here — here’s the deal. There’s this new ordinance
that effectively lets guys like Orizaga post and get out.”
“Ordinance, you say? What—from the Cook County Board?”
“Yeah, passed a few weeks ago on August 11 —I’m trying to get a copy, but you can download it from the County Board website.”
“Okay, I’ll do that, but what about this detainer you told us about?”
“Well, that’s the point. This ordinance effectively allows the Sheriff to ignore detainers, or I should say, it mandates that he release them if they post bond.”
“Wait, wait. Isn’t this federal law we’re talking here?” objected Pat, unable to believe
what he was hearing.
“Well, yes, one might say that, but it appears that the Cook County commissioners felt they could ignore it.”
“That’s crazy. Was it in the papers?”
“I don’t know. I suppose you could try The Globe or The Chicago Times—or try Googling ‘Cook County and detainers.’”
“I’ll try that, Eileen. Can I call back later?”
“Sure. I want to update you on the new bond and warrant I worked on this morning.”
Abandoning his coffee, which was now cold, Pat got out his Mac Air. Still numb from his exchange with Ellen, he began surfing the net. Eventually, his search produced a news report in The Globe, dated August 12, 2011; it recounted the passing of the ordinance. It was written by Ron Ralston, so Pat sent him an e-mail explaining who he was, leaving his phone number. Ten minutes later, the phone rang.
“Pat McGurn, please.”
“You just e-mailed me. Can I ask a few questions? I’m Ralston, from The
“Hi Ron— I was expecting your call.”
“So how do you feel about Mr. Orizaga’s flight?”
Ignoring the question, Pat said, “So you know about Orizaga’s release?”
“Yeah, it’s all over the newsroom. Somebody, probably at Cook County Sheriff Dypsky’s office, left an anonymous message.”
“Well, that’s good. Let the public get up in arms, don’t you think, Ron? Let me
ask a question—”
“Mr. McGurn, I’m supposed to ask the questions.”
“Sure, but I need to know what you know, so c’mon. Let’s start with what you’re going to write.”
“Okay, fair enough. It will go something like this,” said Ralston.
“Ten Cook County commissioners including chief sponsor Vic Varbanov and President Korshak have taken the position that they have no responsibility to enforce federal law. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, will argue that federal law preempts local law with respect to immigration. ICE will also argue that Sheriff Dypsky should have ignored the ordinance and notified ICE of Orizaga’s release within forty-eight hours, as the law requires.”
“Okay,” said Pat. “So now the picture is getting a bit clearer, but what I still don’t get is that, apparently, the Assistant State’s Attorney, Eileen Murphy, had no idea the law had been passed.”
“That’s right, Pat, and I’m guessing none of the other staff attorneys did, either. I also learned that ICE headquarters in Washington is furious about this. I’m trying to obtain a letter that went out to Cook County President Korshak a few hours ago.”
“So may be State’s Attorney g is complicit in all of this?”
“Good bet, but she will have cover—you can bank on it. She got some bald headed guy keeping her out of trouble as her deputy. I think his name is Sheehan. Let me tell you, the whole lot of them— I mean, from Korshak on down—will figure out a cover.”
“Leaving my family and me with nothing but a bunch of hollow condolences,” exclaimed Pat bitterly.
“Well, Pat, at least I can expose some of these shenanigans for you and the general public. But it’s going to take a while, because these people won’t cooperate.”
“Alright, Ron, before you go, tell me what happened last month, when the ordinance was passed; your article gave a good summary, but I want to know the vote and if there was a debate.”
“Well, I really wasn’t there—the story was from a press release. But I did a lot of research—or, I should say, my legman did. We heard that it was rushed through, and that just yesterday they released the vote.”
“Wait a second. Just yesterday, you say?”
“Yeah, they’re supposed to post the minutes within a few days, and it took them a month.”
“Jeez,” Pat said, “I should have followed this. And others wrote it up, too, you say?”
“Oh, yeah. Some new kid at The Sun and another story in The Daily Report, but I’m the one that hounded them on the minutes.”
“What else, Ron?”
“Commissioner Tom Wagner was on Wolf News and said he thought a law suit is inevitable.”
“Think I should call him?”
“Worth a try, I guess.”
“What was the vote?”
“Googan, Giglio Guest and, of course, Wagner voted against it. Riley—a former governor’s nephew— also voted against it. Oh, and one commissioner was absent, and the indicted one—you know, James, the ladies’ man and gambler—voted ‘present.’”
“So, let’s see, ten voted for it and looks like these spineless bastards didn’t want it to go public. Un-fuckin’ believable, as we used to say back in the day. I’ll tell you what, Ron. I’ll give you everything you ask, if you go over some of your notes with me.”
“Really, I shouldn’t be doing this, but here’s what I got. Orizaga spent seventeen months going in and out of the court of this idiot judge named O’Fallon, up in Skokie, between his October 2008 arrest and his release from probation, February 2011. Court personnel never contacted ICE.”
“Hold on—did they have to?”
“Well, yes and no,” Ron said. “O’Fallon and the attorneys knew he was illegal and they also knew immigration enforcement was a federal responsibility. But get this— my legman found a Cook County resolution that somehow gives court personnel permission to ignore federal law.”
And there was more. Ralston had called the press spokesperson at the Chicago ICE office who claimed they had no knowledge of Orizaga until June 8, 2011. That was when a new reporting procedure linked state and FBI criminal history databases with those of the Department of Homeland Security.
“And as you know, ICE is part of that federal agency,” said Ron, his voice
heavy with meaning.
“So when Orizaga got booked the night of your brother’s death, the Feds issued a detainer, probably the next day.”
“Okay,” said Pat, trying to absorb the information overload.
“So now I see why the Feds were not contacted the first time. Let’s be clear. Denny would be alive today because Orizaga would have been deported. We now can point the finger at no less than twenty Cook County assholes! Pardon the French, Ron.”
“We contacted Hunter-Goss at the State’s Attorney, and her press gal, Suzy Sorich, said it was not their responsibility, period, and she hung up. I also left a message for your prosecutor, Murphy, but she won’t talk to me, I’m sure. A detainer was definitely issued on June 9, 2011, and Sheriff Dan Dypsky knew about it. It would have been in Orizaga’s file when he was released.”
“Did you call Dypsky?”
“Never returned my calls. Word is out that he fired his press guy, most likely over this.”
“Did he hire a new guy?”
“Yeah, we think it’s some 19th Ward family friend named Guy Grodecki. I plan to call him in a day or two, but doubt he’ll be helpful.”
“Look, Ron, I owe you for this, but let me get back to you. I’m going to call Murphy— I got to tell you, I don’t think she knows about the judge up at Skokie Branch, or this other stuff.”
“Good point, but I’d bet a grand Hunter-Goss’s people will get to her and read her the facts of life.”
“Yeah, good bet, but when she told me about the ordinance it seemed like she was blindsided on this.”
“Look, Pat, the question is why didn’t she know about the ordinance? I mean, she shouldn’t have to follow County Board proceedings, but Hunter-Goss surely should have known, as well as her deputy, Sheehan, who was there for the vote! They should have issued a memo to her. Four hundred or more Assistant States Attorneys and Murphy could have gone back to court and increased the bond to, say, a million!”
“So your article comes out tomorrow, Ron?”
“Yeah, I’ll focus on your concerns, the vote, and the refusal to comment on the part of those responsible. Maybe later, say in a few days, I’ll get into to some of the other stuff like the prior conviction, so I’ll be in touch. And, Pat— I’m real sorry about your brother.”
After the call ended, Pat went over the chronology of events, making sure that
he had not omitted anything of importance. Then, when he had a clear idea as to what he wanted to say, he phoned Eileen Murphy.
“Eileen, Pat here. You won’t believe what I just learned,” said Pat as he launched into his summary of the conversation with Ralston.
“My goodness, Pat. Well, politics are out of my jurisdiction,” protested Eileen, a faint touch of humor in her voice.
“What about your boss, Hunter-Goss?”
“Well, aahh, you know I have to be careful, because things can get—you
“Okay, Okay, I get it,” said Pat, frustration rising. Ralston had been right. Someone
had already gotten to Eileen.
“Sounds like you were called to the principal’s office,” he observed.
“She’s real political, Pat, so you have to be careful.”
“No— you have to be careful. I understand. I bet she’s part of this cover-up.”
There was an awkward silence.
“Pat, you know I can’t….”
“Yeah, I know. Well, what can you tell me?” said Pat, barely conscious of the
aggressive edge to his voice.
“Well, I increased the bond to 500K, and there is now a warrant out for his arrest. They sent Cook County Sheriff’s deputies and Chicago cops to look for him. I haven’t heard anything yet.”
“Fat chance! C’mon. You and I know he’s long gone, for God’s sake.”
“Yeah, probably, but that’s all I could do,” Murphy continued, almost apologetically.
“You know there’s a court date Thursday, right?” she continued.
“Sure, but why bother? We both know Orizaga skipped.”
“Well, the court will convene, with or without him.”
“Maybe some of my family should be there, but if Orizaga doesn’t show, that
will further add insult to injury.”
“I’m so sorry, Pat.”
Pat, barely hearing her, looked at his notes.
“Okay, let me ask about the ordinance.”
“Pat, we already went over that.”
“I know, but did you ask other prosecutors, judges, supervisors—you know,
talk around the courthouse—if any others knew about this ordinance?”
There was dead silence.
“C’mon, Eileen. Help me out.”
“Well, Pat, I got to tell you—no one knew, not even Judge Martin, the guy assigned
to your case.”
“So no memo—what about that bald assistant to Hunter-Goss? Sheehan, I think his name. I’m told he’s always at these Cook County Board meetings.”
“I didn’t see anything from him, Pat.”
“Jeez, this looks worse than the Chicago Public School boondoggles I put up with at the Board of Education for thirty years. I’m going to pursue this and, for starters, find out about this idiotic ordinance.”
“Pat, I’m with you, but you know it’s difficult.”
“Hey, Hunter-Goss really screwed this up, along with ten commissioners—Dypsky, Korshak, and God knows who else. I mean, there must be other illegal felons in the system, right?”
“I just had the one, Pat, but you’re probably right. The talk around here is that a whole bunch more got out.”
“Think Hunter-Goss will talk to me?”
“She won’t talk to you. Trust me.”
“Oh, and do you think Judge Martin or the bond judge, Santiago, knew Orizaga
had a prior felony conviction?”
“Well, for sure Martin did, because it came up, back in July—I think you were there. And the Rice girl—I doubt she told the bond judge of Orizaga’s prior felony.”
“Rice? Who’s that”?
“Oh, she’s new here and was assigned to the bond hearing. I got the file after that.”
“So a wet-behind-the-ears new kid agrees to a low bond for an illegal prior-
convicted felon who then kills my brother.”
“Well, that’s one way to put it, I guess, but we all thought the detainer was sufficient.”
“Maybe this guy, Judge Santiago, knew something you didn’t—that the ordinance
was coming down the pike.”
Again, that deafening silence.
“Okay. Thanks, Eileen—please call if you have anything.”
“You bet,” she said but her words sounded flat.
“What a bunch of bullshit!” muttered Pat as he clicked the “End Call” button on his
Here it was, the end of August, and his brother had been dead almost three months. These clowns had let Orizaga walk, and only God knew how many other illegals were out there hurting people. Noting that his cell battery was low, he connected the charger and turned again to his Mac Air.
He was curious about Cook County State’s Attorney Hunter-Goss’ background. If his memory served him well, this was her first County office. A quick search revealed she had been elected in 2008. Prior to that, she had run the Gang Crimes Unit. Pat also recalled she served on the City Council from the Austin community on the West Side.
“Wonder if she ever prosecuted anyone?” he said out loud. He needed to
know the players and everything about them. Though Eileen may have overlooked a few things, his gut told him not to hold her responsible because there were bigger fools out there that owed his family explanations. Even if it was the last thing he did on this earth, he planned to go after every one of those sons o’bitches….
Pat’s thoughts turned to his long time friend and mentor, Professor Joe Vanderbiezen. Well into his 70’s, he was still as sharp as a tack and was a long-time vocal critic of the Chicago and Cook County machines. Joe would have read Ralston’s article by noon the next day—that would be the best time to call him and get his take on the foolish ordinance. He was certain it involved corrupt political machine shenanigans of some sort, and Joe would be the one to understand them.