Stories by Matt Masterson

Chicago Police Adding 200 Plate Reader Vehicles to Help Combat Carjackings

Police officials say the license plate readers allow officers to quickly identify stolen vehicles. (Chicago Police Department)

Carjacking totals dropped across Chicago in 2018 following a yearslong spike, and city leaders hope the deployment of a technological tool will help draw those totals down further.

COPA Employee Facing Felony Charges After False Shooting Threat

Alison Yohanna (Chicago Police Department)

Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigator Alison Yohanna is facing felony charges after she allegedly emailed a false report of a mass shooting at her office late last month.

Lane Tech Staffer Removed After Allegation of ‘Inappropriate Behavior’

Lane Tech High School (Matt Masterson / Chicago Tonight)

A staff member at Chicago’s largest public high school has been removed following an allegation of inappropriate behavior involving a student. “We are taking this situation seriously,” the school’s principal wrote Friday in an email to parents.

Firearms Found in Ald. Ed Burke’s Office: Who Can Carry Guns in City Hall?

Among the extraordinary details that came to light after Ald. Ed Burke was charged Thursday with attempted extortion was the fact that nearly two dozen firearms were found in his offices during a series of November raids.

Verdict Delayed for Second Time in Laquan McDonald Conspiracy Trial

Background: Ex-Officer Joseph Walsh, second from left, former Detective David March, center, and Chicago police Officer Thomas Gaffney arrive in court on the first day of trial on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Foreground: Special prosecutor Patricia Brown Holmes, right, and special prosecutor Ron Safer, left. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

A Cook County judge has already delayed her finding once in the unprecedented trial of three Chicago police officers. The new verdict date is Jan. 17 – a day before the sentencing of former Officer Jason Van Dyke.

COPA Employee Accused of Sending Workplace Email Threat

(Chicago Tonight)

Chicago police descended on COPA’s office last Friday following a report of an emailed threat. But COPA officials now say that threat was “false” and the sender has been identified as an agency employee.

CPS Watchdog: Former Music Director Mismanaged $13K in Funds

The school district’s inspector general found the music director “willfully violated” CPS fundraising guidelines. That’s just one of the investigations highlighted in the watchdog’s just-released annual report.

CPS Space Utilization Data Shows More Underutilized Schools

Nearly 250 Chicago schools have been labelled “underutilized,” according to district data. That total exceeds the number of schools CPS says are running efficiently.

CPS: Ousted Ogden Principal Exposed Private Student Info in New Data Breach

William B. Ogden Elementary School

The school district says identification numbers, grades, standardized test scores and the email addresses of numerous Ogden Elementary students were exposed in the latest CPS data breach.

Transgender Prisoner Moved to Illinois Women’s Prison After Alleged Abuse

(Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

Strawberry Hampton, a 27-year-old transgender woman, said she was constantly harassed and abused by prisoners and corrections officers alike inside various all-male prisons.

Police: Robberies Down Citywide Nearly 20 Percent in 2018

(Chicago Tonight)

Nearly a dozen Chicago police districts this year saw their lowest number of recorded robberies since 2000 as the citywide robbery rate fell by 19 percent year-over-year.

AAA: Christmas Eve Will Be Worst Day for Holiday Travel in Chicago

(ruifo / Flickr)

The holiday travel season is officially underway, but if you’re planning to leave the Windy City, it might be best to hit the road sooner rather than later.

Verdict in Laquan McDonald Conspiracy Trial to Come Jan. 15, 2019

Court will issue finding only days before Van Dyke sentencing

Chicago police Officer Thomas Gaffney, left, ex-Officer Joseph Walsh and their attorneys approach the bench in a post-trial hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

A verdict was expected Wednesday in the bench trial of three Chicago police officers charged with conspiring to cover up details of the fatal 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald. The defendants will instead learn their fate in January, just days before Jason Van Dyke is scheduled to be sentenced.

Fundraisers Created to Support Families of Chicago Officers Struck by Train

Chicago police Officers Conrad Gary, left, and Eduardo Marmolejo (Courtesy of the Chicago Police Department)

Community organizers have helped raise thousands of dollars for the families of two Chicago police officers who were struck and killed by a Metra train in an accident Monday night on the Far South Side.

Verdict Delayed in Laquan McDonald Conspiracy Trial

From left: Former Chicago Detective David March, officer Thomas Gaffney and former officer Joseph Walsh attend a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

A verdict was expected Wednesday in the trial of three Chicago police officers accused of conspiring to cover up the fatal 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald, but the judge has postponed her decision.

Jason Van Dyke to be Sentenced Jan. 18, 2019

Judge upholds guilty verdicts in high-profile case, won’t grant new trial

Former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke attends a post-conviction hearing at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Friday, Dec. 14, 2018. (Antonio Perez / Chicago Tribune / pool)

Jason Van Dyke was found guilty of second-degree murder in October. Next month, the suspended Chicago police officer will learn how much time he’ll spend in prison.

New Lawsuit Accuses DCFS of ‘Warehousing’ Children in Psych Hospitals

(inspiri / Pixabay)

In a class-action lawsuit, the state’s child welfare agency is accused of keeping children confined to psychiatric hospitals beyond their discharge dates because it doesn’t have the necessary facilities to house them.

Uptown Medical Clinic Owner Illegally Sold Hundreds of Thousands of Opioid Pills

(Adam / Wikimedia Commons)

In just over a year, Mohammed Shariff says he illegally dispensed more than two kilograms of oxycodone and hundreds of thousands of other opioid pills to patients who planned to resell them.

Illinois Schools Must Improve Support for Student Sex Abuse Victims: Report

(Don Harder / Flickr)

There’s been a renewed focus on student sexual abuse after hundreds of cases within Chicago Public Schools came to light. But a new report finds that schools across the state aren’t doing enough to support abuse survivors.

Change of Venue Granted in Case of Missing U. of I. Student

Yingying Zhang disappeared on June 9, 2017. (University of Illinois Police Department). Inset: Brendt Christensen (Macon County Sheriff’s Department)

A federal judge rules the upcoming trial of Brendt Christensen will be moved from Urbana to Peoria. He is charged with the kidnapping and death of 26-year-old Yingying Zhang.

McDonald Cover-Up Trial Finished, But Verdict Still Weeks Away

Former Chicago Police Detective David March, left, and his attorney James McKay on Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

Arguments are over in the trial of three Chicago cops accused of trying to cover up details of the Laquan McDonald shooting. Now it’s up to a judge to issue her verdict in a ruling that will come later this month.

Defense Scheduled to Begin Case in McDonald Conspiracy Trial Thursday

Defense attorneys confer before prosecution rested during the trial of Chicago police Officer Thomas Gaffney, former Detective David March and ex-Officer Joseph Walsh on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

Defense attorneys for three Chicago police officers will have their first opportunity to present evidence Thursday morning. But it remains to be seen if any witnesses will be called.

State Rests, Judge Denies Not Guilty Request in McDonald Cover-Up Trial

Defense attorneys confer before prosecution rested during the trial of Chicago police Officer Thomas Gaffney, former Detective David March and ex-Officer Joseph Walsh on Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

After the state rested its case Tuesday, defense attorneys each requested a directed finding of not guilty, claiming the state had failed to prove any conspiracy existed. More updates from week two in the courtroom.

CPS Recommends Closing 2 Charter Schools, Rejecting Proposals for 3 Others

Kwame Nkrumah Charter School and Urban Prep West Charter School have both failed to “provide a high quality education” for their students, the district says.

5 Things to Know About 1st Week of McDonald Conspiracy Trial

From left: Former Chicago Detective David March, officer Thomas Gaffney and former officer Joseph Walsh attend a pretrial hearing Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2018. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune / Pool)

An eyewitness who says he was shooed away. A key witness who says a detective lied. Scrutiny over events leading up to the shooting. Key takeaways from week one of an unprecedented trial of three Chicago cops accused of working to cover up the 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.