JEFFERSON PARK — A woman accused of threatening a Jefferson Park family over their criticism of Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) before driving over their garden this summer was acquitted in a recent trial, but documents obtained by Block Club show the woman admitted she was responsible and that information was not disclosed in court.
Maureen McGlade was arrested in June, five days after police said she drove her gold Ford Explorer SUV into a family’s yard and hitting a parked car near the intersection of North Miltimore and North Menard Avenues.
McGlade was charged with two misdemeanors for criminal damage to property and failure to notify damage to an unattended vehicle in June. She also was cited for not having a valid registration, police said.
The summer incident was caught on video but Judge Daniel J. Gallagher determined he could not identify McGlade from the nighttime footage, according to court transcripts from the December bench trial obtained by Block Club.
Video captured a woman screaming but did not show a clear view of the driver’s face, which McGlade’s attorney argued was not enough to prove it was her. After a quick rebuttal from prosecutors, the judge sided with McGlade.
“An identification based on voice alone from one day before with limited circumstances is not going to be sufficient for proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Gallagher said. “Something happened. I can think that somebody was involved, but I can’t say proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Consequently, there’s a finding of not guilty.”
However, documents show McGlade “admitted her involvement in [the] incident” to police and agreed to turn herself in to detectives, according to supplementary police reports obtained by Block Club. This evidence was not used at the December bench trial.
Reached by phone, McGlade’s attorney David Studenroth said he was not aware of this evidence and that it was not presented to the court. Tandra Simonton, a spokesperson for the Cook County State’s Attorney Office, declined to comment on why the evidence was not used in the trial. Police officials also did not answer questions.
Pete Czosnyka and his family think their home was targeted because of his vocal criticism of Gardiner. He previously said he identified McGlade from multiple tips and license plate information after the incident occurred. Czosnyka said he gave that information to police, who looked up the driver’s plates within an hour of the incident and told him “she lives close” but did not provide the name of the woman who drove the car, he said.
Officers did not list McGlade’s name or license plate on the preliminary police reports of the incidents, which were the only evidence used in court, along with the video.
McGlade declined to comment on the recent court ruling.
“This is life in copland,” said Czosnyka, who lives on the city’s Northwest Side, an area home to many police officers. “I am not surprised by the verdict.”
After Block Club first reported the incident, neighbors questioned why there was a delay in arresting McGlade, and demanded better accountability from the 16th Police District.
Kelly Dall, Czosnyka’s neighbor, whose car was damaged during the incident, said she was surprised about the acquittal despite the video evidence.
Dall said a police detective working the case, who was in touch with McGlade before she was arrested, told her McGlade had offered to return Dall’s damaged car’s license plate, which she had taken off with her SUV.
“He said, ‘Oh, she wants to talk to you. Oh, but she’s really nice,'” Dall said. “He tried twice.”
Dall said she refused the offer and did not want to engage with McGlade. The family ended up settling and buying a new car, she said.
About a month after the incident, the Police Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs opened an investigation into how officers handled and reported the incident. Six months later, the investigation was closed after the court ruling and allegations against the officers were not sustained, according to documents about the investigation.
The Czosnykas allege that McGlade, who lives close to them, drove by their house near Miltimore and Menard avenues in a gold Ford Explorer SUV on a summer evening and cursed at Noreen Czosnyka, who was outside tending to her garden.
Pete Czosnyka, who runs neighborhood Facebook page NWS Examiner, said the woman told Noreen Czosnyka to tell her husband to “stop following the alderman.”
About nine hours later, at 3:15 a.m., the Czosnykas’ dog began barking and the family heard loud music and screeching, Pete Czosnyka said. They went outside and saw a woman in the same gold Ford Explorer SUV driving over their garden and into their yard multiple times while screaming.
The video shows a woman driving onto the lawn before driving away. She then turns around in what looks like an attempt to “come back for a final F you,” Pete Czosnyka said — but instead she hits a neighbor’s car, turns around and leaves in the video.
Gardiner has not commented on the incident and did not reply to requests for comment.
“You just have to soldier on,” Pete Czosnyka said.
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