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Jury finds Villa Park man guilty in 2012 fatal fire in Lombard home

DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert B. Berlin announced Tuesday, Jan. 20, that a jury had found Todd Mandoline, 26, of Villa Park, guilty of first-degree murder in a 2012 arson that claimed the life of 24-year-old Paula Morgan of Lombard.
The jury returned its verdict after approximately one-and-one-half hours of deliberations following a five-day-long trial in front of Judge John Kinsella. In addition, the jury also found Mandoline guilty of aggravated arson, a Class X felony. 
On July 21, 2012, Mandoline attended a birthday party Morgan held for herself at the home she shared with her son and mother, located at 1028 S. Ahrens, Lombard.
At some point during the party, Mandoline was asked to leave, which he did. In the early morning hours of July 22; however, Mandoline returned to the home and set fire to Morgan’s mother’s car, which was located in the driveway. The fire spread to the home and ultimately claimed Morgan’s life.
The fire also severely injured Jason Cassidy, an acquaintance of Morgan’s who was at the party. On July 25, 2012, Mandoline appeared in bond court, where he was ordered to be held without bond for the murder. He has remained in custody at the DuPage County Jail since that time.
“Today the jury found that the day before her 25th birthday, Paula Morgan lost her life in a fire set by Todd Mandoline,” Berlin said. “Paula died a horrific death because of the outrageous behavior of Todd Mandoline. Her death also left a young boy without his mother to love, care for and protect him. In addition, the fire set by Mr. Mandoline not only left Jason Cassidy fighting for his life as a result of the injuries he sustained in the blaze, but also left him with physical and emotional scars he will carry with him for the rest of his life. I would like to thank the Lombard police for their efforts and fine work on this very sad case. I would also like to thank the Lombard Fire Department, the DuPage County Major Crimes Task Force, the DuPage County Sheriff’s Office and the DuPage County Arson Task Force for their assistance and cooperation. Lastly, I would like to thank assistant state’s attorneys David Bayer, Jae Kwon and Robert Willis for their efforts in holding Todd Mandoline responsible for the murder of Paula Morgan.”
Mandoline’s next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 20 for filing of post-trial motions. He faces a maximum of up to natural life in the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Three men charged in residential burglaries

by Bonnie MacKay                                          
As members of an area police task force recently conducted surveillance on three men, the subjects entered condominium buildings in both Lombard and Villa Park.
According to Lombard Police Detective Sgt. John Malatia, while investigating a large number of burglaries, the task force members developed a vehicle as possibly being involved in a number of incidents.
He related the officers developed probable cause and were able to obtain a search warrant for a GPS tracker to be placed on the suspect vehicle, a 2000 black Toyota Camry.
On Jan. 16, members of NORTAF (North Regional Major Crimes Task Force) were alerted that the vehicle was moving and they followed the vehicle as the men allegedly went into multiple locations, including a condominium building located at 1500 S. Ardmore Ave. in Villa Park.
Once the men left the condo building, Malatia said some of the officers entered the building  and located three condo units with damage to the doors. No entry was gained.
“Surveillance video from the building showed these three suspects [allegedly] trying to gain access,” the detective related.
When the Toyota Camry left Villa Park, other officers followed the three men to 310 S. Main St. in Lombard, where once again the three men reportedly entered a condominium building.
Officers entered the building after the men exited and found two units where the doors had been forced open, and the units had been entered and ransacked, Malatia said.
A traffic stop was made on the vehicle and all three subjects were taken into custody. Malatia said the Toyota Camry was towed to the Lombard Police Department.
After obtaining a search warrant, officers located proceeds from the burglaries inside the trunk of the vehicle. Items located included an iPad, a Movado watch, a Louis Vuitton purse, jewelry and alcohol, as well as screwdrivers, clothing and gloves.
Arthur Weathersby, 45, of Chicago; Craig Williams, 43, of Olympia Fields; and Dedrick Herron, 51, of Park Forest, were all charged with two counts of burglary. All three men were transported to the DuPage County Jail in Wheaton, where, as of press time, they were being held in lieu of $750,000 bond each.
Malatia said consent searches were conducted at a number of addresses including a hotel room, where more jewelry was recovered.
He added that a number of other law enforcement agencies have questioned the three men and additional charges are pending.

Lombard detectives investigate third armed robbery in less than a month

by Bonnie MacKay                                          
Less than 24 hours after a convenience store on Crescent Boulevard was robbed at gunpoint last week, a man was robbed at gunpoint in a parking lot on Roosevelt Road.
About 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, a man was approached by two male subjects in the parking lot of Mama Thai, 52 W. Roosevelt Road. Police reports show that the subjects reportedly displayed a handgun and demanded the man’s money, car keys and cell phone.
The subjects reportedly drove the man to the Mobil gas station, located at Finley and Roosevelt roads, in his 2009 Nissan Altima.
“They [allegedly] forced him to withdraw cash from the ATM inside the business,” said Lombard Police Detective John Malatia, adding that although the two men did not enter the business, they reportedly threatened to shoot him if he told anyone about them.
Once the money had been withdrawn, they drove him to the dead-end on  Ann Street, where they exited the vehicle and ran into a wooded area.
Malatia said Lombard K-9 officers Greg Sohr and Chico were called to the scene to conduct a track, which led into nearby Glen Ellyn before Chico lost the track.
This is the third armed robbery in Lombard since Dec. 21, 2014, when a taxi driver reportedly was robbed at gunpoint in the parking lot of Walgreens, 309 W. St. Charles Road.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Lombard investigators at 630-873-4400.

Lombard police officers tally 224 DUI arrests in 2014

by Bonnie MacKay                                          
Although the Lombard Police Department’s DUI arrest numbers dipped slightly last year, Lombard officers were able to keep pace with their 2013 numbers, which had risen for the first time in five years.
Lombard officers made 224 DUI arrests in 2014, just five less than the 229 DUI arrests logged in 2013.
The highest number of DUI arrests was made on the midnight shift, which garnered 159 DUI arrests, accounting for about 69 percent of the department’s DUI arrests. Midnight shift’s 159 arrests in 2014 was down from 179 DUI arrests made by the shift in 2013.
Officers on afternoon shift made 52 DUI arrests, or about 23 percent of the total DUI arrests. The shift’s 52 DUI arrests in 2014 was up considerably from the  29 DUI arrests made after shift officers in 2013 and 2012.
Day shift officers, whose number of DUI arrests increased last year to eight in 2013 from five in 2012, jumped once again as day shift officers made 13 DUI arrests last year.
Just under 78 percent of those arrested for DUI were male drivers, while female drivers accounted for 50, or about 22 percent of the DUI arrests.
The average age for male arrestees was 33.60 with an average BAC (blood alcohol content) of .14751 percent. Female arrestees had an average age of 30.76 and an average BAC of .14519.
For the second year in a row, Lombard midnight shift Officer Eric Gouty led the department with 38 DUI arrests, which showed a slight increase from his 36 DUI arrests in 2013.
Lombard Police Officer Scott Jean, a midnight shift officer, took second-place honors with 18 DUI arrests in 2014. Taking third-place was Lombard Police Officer Chuck Brack, another midnight shift officer, who garnered 14 DUI arrests in 2014. In 2013, Brack logged 24 DUI arrests, which netted him the department’s second-place honors.
As part of a federal grant program, Lombard police conducted numerous stepped-up DUI enforcement periods during 2014.
The department will be conducting special patrols over the Super Bowl weekend as they crack down on DUI drivers and seat belt law violators.
Lombard police office handled 44,516 calls in 2014, according to Lombard Police Deputy Chief Tom Wirsing. Lombard officers responded to 707 more calls last year than they did in 2013 when they handled 43,809 calls.

Lombard police add special patrols for Super Bowl Weekend

The Lombard Police Department has announced it will conduct special patrols over the Super Bowl weekend, cracking down on drunk drivers and seat belt law violators.
“Drunk driving is completely preventable,” said Lombard Police Deputy Chief Tom Wirsing. “All it takes is a little planning. We want fans to remember that it’s a choice and the choice is simple. Drink or drive—but never do both. If you do, you will be arrested.”
“If you plan on drinking alcohol while cheering on your team, pass your keys to a sober driver before the Super Bowl party begins. Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. Motorists also can anticipate tickets for ignoring seat belt laws,” Wirsing said.
The deputy chief said that always designating a sober driver and not letting friends drive drunk are just two of several simple steps to help avoid a tragic crash or an arrest due to drunk driving. Other important tips include:
•Call a taxi, use mass transit or call a sober friend or family member to get you home  safely.
•Report drunk drivers to law enforcement.
•Spend the night where the activity is being held and sleep it off.
•Always buckle up–it’s your best defense against a drunk driver.
The Lombard police DUI and seat belt enforcement effort is funded with federal traffic safety funds administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
For more information about the Click It or Ticket and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns, visit www.buckleupillinois.org.