The dispute between the owners of the Bettendorf Castle in Fox River Grove and neighbors Diana and James Durso has been playing out before the City of Chicago Police Board.
The Chicago Police Superintendent seeks to dismiss Jennifer Martin from being a Police Officer.
According to Jennifer Martin, Dianna Durso and Martin’s mother both own vacation property in Apple River Canyon, near Galena Illinois. Martin became friends with Dianna Durso while visiting their respective vacation homes in Apple River Canyon.
Martin’s testimony was that she believed she had a legitimate law enforcement purpose because Dianna Durso reported to her that she was being followed in Fox River Grove by at least ten separate people.
During the course of the testimony plates ending with 66E, 4289, 1770, 0G, 945, 574, 249, 450, 4E, 373 were identified as having been run by Martin.
Martin initially explained that she wanted to put Durso’s mind at ease that none of the registered owners were hardened criminals.
However, when pressed by Counsel for the City of Chicago, Martin stated that she ran the plates because she wanted to ease Durso’s “paranoia about being followed.” Martin further testified that all of the plates ran were associated with owners residing in the general Fox River Grove and Northwest Suburban area.
City of Chicago Senior Counsel Hillina Tamrak tied the plates to Fox River Grove by introducing a list of plates of Castle visitors that were maintained by the owners of Bettendorf Castle depicting the date and time the vehicle was at the Castle.
City Counsel did not inquiry why the Castle owners maintained this list, but testimony from William Strohl, son of the castle’s owners, indicated that a posting on Facebook alerted them to the neighborhood action committee’s being able to run all of the plates visiting the castle.
Additional testimony form a Records Department employee supported numerous plates from the Strohl’s list was searched on LEADS (Illinois Law Enforcement Agencies Data System) with a unique identifier tied to Jennifer Martin.
According to Martin, Diana Durso would either call, text, or e-mail Martin with the various plate numbers and then Martin would run the various plates and convey the registered owner’s name and either the specific address or the city/town in which the owner lived.
The Federal Lawsuit against Dianna Durso was also admitted as an exhibit in the hearing and Martin testified that her statement to Chicago Police Internal Affairs was that she was the woman identified only as “Individual A” in the prior Federal Lawsuit against Durso.
The Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) cited in the lawsuit against Durso was part of the multi-count complaint against Martin.
Under the DPPA a person who knowingly obtains, uses or discloses “personal information” concerning another from a motor vehicle record for a purpose not permitted by the DPPA shall be liable to the individual to whom the information pertains. 18 U.S.C. § 2724.
Further, the DPPA makes it a Federal crime to run plates for an unauthorized purposes.
Martin’s defense to the charges is that an exception exists to allow use of the Law Enforcement Agency Database (LEADS) for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
However, City of Chicago counsel was quick to point out that Martin
- made no official reports, no attempt was made to contact Law Enforcement in Fox River Grove about the purported stalking,
- no communications to her superiors were made by Martin, and
- during the period Martin was running the plates she was assigned to a high crime area response unit focusing on specific areas within the City of Chicago.
Martin offered no explanation as to why the Chicago Police would be involved in a Fox River Grove situation involving her personal friend.
The attorney representing castle owner Michael Strohl is Robert Hanlon. Hanlon is also the attorney who filed suit over Undersheirff Andy Zinke’s having run the license plate of the car which one of his process servers drove to serve Zinke with a subpoena.
The Chicago Police Superintendent is represented by Kathrine Robillard and Hillina Tamrat. Jennifer Martin is represented by Colleen Daly of Chicago.