Lake County K-9 Thwarts Child Pornographer

“Browser” (LC State’s Attorney’s  digital evidence K-9) helps to thwart Child Pornographer

(Hammond, Ind.) United States Attorney Thomas L. Kirsch and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent In Charge Grant Mendenhall, in coordination with LaPorte County, Ind., Prosecutor John Lake and the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, announced that Michael Christianson, age 50, of LaPorte, was charged with transportation of child pornography. 

The criminal complaint alleges that on or about July 2, 2019, FBI Agents from the Charlotte Division responded to a complaint by a book publisher about material contained inside three books submitted for publication and authored by Christianson.

F.B.I. officials said the books appear to be geared toward children as they use large fonts, simple words, and most of the sentences rhyme. The books explain and show images that encouraged children to play naked with one another, and encouraged children to play with naked adults. Photographs and illustrations in the books also include depictions of minor children engaging in sexually explicit conduct, F.B.I officials said.

Christianson was convicted of child molesting in 2002 and was sentenced to serve 30 years in prison and register as Sexually Violent Predator for the rest of his life. He was released from prison in 2016 and was still on probation at the time of the newly charged offense.

Browser, the electronic detection canine from the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, and handler Carol Gudbrandsen were called in to assist the F.B.I. in the case.

“We are so proud of our electronic evidence canine,” said Lake County State’s Attorney Michael G. Nerheim. “As we have said since the beginning, Browser is and will remain available to any law enforcement agency in need of his services.”

Any members of the public who have additional information regarding Christianson and any conduct he has had with minor children are encouraged to call the FBI at (219) 942-4900.

The United States Attorney’s Office emphasizes that a criminal complaint is merely an allegation and that all persons are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

If convicted, any specific sentence to be imposed will be determined by the judge after a consideration of federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.

This case remains investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Gang Response Investigative Team in coordination with the Indiana State Police, the Michigan City Police Department, the Lake County Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office and the LaPorte County Sheriff’s Office. 

Opioid Overdose Deaths Drop For 1st Time in a Decade

Opioid Overdose Deaths Drop For 1st Time in a Decade

Drug overdose deaths in the United States declined by about 5% between December 2017 and December 2018, according to preliminary CDC data.

In a decade that saw a meteoric rise in opioid related deaths, this news is a welcome change.  However, while opioid related deaths are down, other “designer” drug overdoses are on the rise. The reduction in opioid deaths have been linked to reductions in opioid prescriptions and the prevalence of the use of drugs like Naloxone that the first responders have been trained on administering to overdose victims, which immediately revives the body during an overdose.

In 2018, the number of predicted drug overdose deaths was 68,557, indicating a 5.1% drop from the predicted count in December 2017, according to the 12 month-ending count data. However, these numbers may be underreported due to incomplete data.

These numbers indicate the first drop in drug overdose deaths in decades; however, these provisional counts may be slightly different from the final drug overdose death data, which will be available in a few months through the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The most recent final data from the National Vital Statistics System revealed that there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2017. According to the data, the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths was 9.6% higher in 2017 than the rate in 2016 (21.7 vs. 19.8 per 100,000) and the age-adjusted rate of drug overdose deaths involving synthetic opioids like fentanyl, fentanyl analogs, and tramadol increased by 45%. – by Savannah Demko

References:

CDC. Drug Overdose Deaths in the United States, 1999-2017. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db329.htm. Accessed July 17, 2019.

CDC. National Center for Health Statistics. Provisional Drug Overdose Death Counts. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/drug-overdose-data.htm#ref8. Accessed July 17, 2019.

LC Board Members Attend State Leadership Day at White House in DC

LC Board Members Attend State Leadership Day at White House in DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Lake County Board Members, Dick Barr, Judy Martini, and Michael Danforth joined roughly 100 County Leaders from Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan at the White House in Washington, D.C. for State Leadership Day to discuss the programs and opportunities available to local Governments to help their respective communities. Participants met with senior members of the Trump administration and Vice President, Mike Pence, on key issues like flooding, small business and economic development, the opioid and substance abuse epidemic, and revitalizing American infrastructure.

“As the requirements of our communities are growing at unprecedented rates, it is becoming increasingly important to network with our Federal partners in Washington to help address our local issues,” said Dick Barr, a Round Lake Beach Republican Member of the County Board. “Lake County needs Billions of dollars’ worth of improved infrastructure that no gas tax in Lake County will even begin to touch. Federal involvement is imperative to the future of our residents if we wish to find a way to keep residents and businesses wanting to stay in our County,” Barr added. “The senior level contacts we made in Washington will be immensely valuable to the people we serve in Lake County.”

Elected officials spent the day listening to reports and opportunities made available by the Administration for the Department of Agriculture, Army Corp of Engineers, Small Business Administration, FEMA, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Office of National Drug Control Policy, Office of American Innovation and the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council.

“I’ve talked with many Officials who are making use of a Federal lobbyist to get access to much needed grant revenue from the Federal Government to tackle the more difficult projects,” said Judy Martini, Republican Board Member from Fox Lake. “A small investment could spell millions in additional funding opportunities.”

“Having these conversations face to face and learning about these opportunities can make a very big impact for Lake County. The Chain of Lakes, which represents about $100 Million in annual tourism, is experiencing major detrimental effects from flooding, erosion and sedimentation which will have an increasing negative effect on the residents and tourists who live and play in Northwestern Lake County. We could make use of a Building Resilient Infrastructure & Communities (BRIC) grant to help the Chain be more resilient to changes that are affecting our environment.”

Michael Danforth, a Barrington Republican County Board Member, said, “Our property taxes in Lake County are out of control. While the Lake County Government represents only between 5-7% of a typical resident’s property tax bill, we are always looking for ways to leverage additional funding resources to help alleviate the property tax burden of our residents.” He added, “The resources we learned about and contacts we made will go a long way to help leverage better services for our residents without adding to what already amounts to one of the highest property tax burdens in the nation.”

Executive Director of the Illinois State Association of Counties (ISACO), Joe McCoy, who also attended the conference, said, “An effective partnership between the federal government and local officials is critically important. The White House conference provides a forum for county officials from Illinois to ask direct questions of administration officials about issues of importance to their counties. I was pleased to see
our county officials take advantage of this opportunity for constructive dialogue.”

In addition to the meeting at the White House, Lake County representatives also said they met with legislative staff for U.S. Congressman Brad Schneider and U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth.

“While meeting with our Federal Representatives, we provided information strongly supporting reauthorization of the “FAST Act” through the bipartisan, “America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act,” as it provides federal infrastructure investments through 2025,” claimed Barr. “Additionally, we requested almost $25 Million in funding for a number of unfunded flood control projects, $9 Million for Public Works projects to
address our 70+ year average age piping infrastructure through the County, and requested fast action from the EPA on the assessment of data and presentation of results obtained from the recent Ethylene Oxide (EtO) testing performed in Lake County. We also requested additional funding for more EtO testing.”

The next step in the process is to take the information gathered and put it to good use.

“I am looking forward to meeting with the incredible staff at Lake County to go over my notes and share the information and contacts gathered during our trip to see which grants make sense for our circumstances and which grants can be effectively utilized to provide the biggest bang for our buck,” said Danforth.

Veteran’s Affairs Bonus Programs

Veteran’s Affairs Bonus Programs

Veterans’ Affairs Bonus Programs
Through the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Bonus Programs, veterans who served in the Korean or Vietnam wars or in the Persian Gulf and individuals currently serving in the Global War on Terrorism can apply for a bonus payment. POW’s may also be eligible for compensation.

To apply for any of the Bonus Payments, click on the category on the left that applies to your service, read the qualifications, and click on the link to download and print the applications.

A $100 bonus is payable to Veterans who serve in Korea between June 27, 1950 – July 27, 1953, were residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service, received the Korean Service Medal, and received an Honorable Discharge.

A $100 bonus is payable to claimants who were residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service, received the Vietnam Service Medal or Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal for Vietnam, and received an Honorable Discharge for service during one of the following periods:

  • Vietnam: January 1, 1961 – March 28, 1973
  • Vietnam Frequent Wind: April 29, 30, 1975

Survivors are entitled to a benefit of $1,000, if the veteran’s death was classified as service-connected by the US Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

A $100 bonus is payable to veterans who serve between August 2, 1990 – November 30, 1995, were residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service, received the Southwest Asia Service Medal, and received an Honorable Discharge.

Individuals currently on active duty who served in the Persian Gulf may apply prior to discharge by also including the Armed Forces Certificate.

A $100 bonus is payable to veterans who serve on or after September 11, 2001 and were residents of Illinois for 12 months immediately prior to entering service.

The claimant must also have served at least 30 consecutive or 60 nonconsecutive days of foreign or sea service and be in receipt of one of the following medals:

  • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal

Individuals currently on active duty who served in the Global War on Terrorism may apply prior to discharge by also including the Armed Forces Certificate.

Persons on active duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or employed by the United States Government on, or after, January 1, 1961, who were residents of Illinois 12 months prior to entry, and who were taken and held prisoner by hostile forces in Southeast Asia, are entitled to $50 for each month or portion thereof while being held captive.