Court report: Probation for taxi driver who molested passenger downtown; Prison for CTA tunnel robbery; More

Some criminal cases we reported on previously have reached their conclusions in court. Here are the details:

Murasbek Elchiev was accused of sexually abusing a female passenger in River North; CPD; File

• A Chicago cab driver has pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal sexual abuse of a female passenger who got into his taxi in River North earlier this year. Sixteen other felonies, including kidnapping, attempted criminal sexual assault, theft, and unlawful restraint were dropped in the plea deal that was approved by Judge Erica Reddick.

Murasbek Elchiev, 27, picked the woman up in the 300 block of West Ontario early on March 3rd and then locked the cab’s doors and covered a surveillance camera, according to police. Prosecutors said Elchiev drove the intoxicated woman in circles, continually asking for sex and eventually grabbing the woman’s breasts. Police arrested him later the same day in a parking lot at O’Hare Airport.

Gentry | CPD

• Michael Gentry has received two year’s probation for burglarizing a Wicker Park home in August 2017. Notoriously, Gentry was located by police because he took time to stop and masturbate in a nearby gangway after breaking into the home, according to prosecutors.

Judge Lauren Edidin approved the plea deal that reduced Gentry’s charge to attempted burglary. His sentence will run concurrent to another two-year probation term that he received for head-butting a glass window in the Leighton Criminal Courthouse last year.

A Wicker Park resident called police around noontime August 13, 2017, after he saw Gentry enter his home and steal an iPad in the 2000 block of West Le Moyne. Cops were speaking with the victim when another 911 call was dispatched: A woman on a nearby street said a man was masturbating outside of her house—and her description of the man closely matched the burglary offender.

Officers said they rolled up to the woman’s home just in time to see Michael Gentry take off running. They caught up with him nearby.

Joseph Lewis pleaded guilty to robbing two women in Boystown on the same night. | CPD; File

• Guilty pleas in two Lakeview robberies have earned a Morgan Park man two consecutive three-year prison terms.  Police were assisted in their investigation of Joseph Lewis by a photograph of the offenders’ license plate that was taken by a witness to one of the robberies, according to a source.

On December 3, 2016, a woman told police that several men cornered her near the 1200 block of West Waveland around 2:50 a.m. on and then began to chase after her. The woman said the men threatened to kill her if she did not stop running.

At around the same time, another woman reported being robbed near Fremont and Grace. The second victim’s friend snapped a photo of the getaway car and police were able to forward the license plate information to other officers who soon found it on Lake Shore Drive.

Police pulled the vehicle over just south of North Avenue around 3:10 a.m. and all three occupants were identified by the robbery victims. Cops found proceeds from the robberies inside the vehicle, police said.

Now, Lewis is heading to prison. With 259 days credit for time served and an automatic 50% sentence reduction for good behavior, he is expected to be paroled in about two-and-a-half years. Judge Shelley Sutker-Dermer approved the plea deal.

One of his accomplices is currently imprisoned for shooting a man in Ohio. The other, Jwan Farley, was given a four-year prison sentence in May.

Daniel Grunauer pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer behind the 19th District station. | CPD; File

• The one-time Boystown bartender who went to prison for arson, then tried to sexually assault a man near the 19th District police station less than four months after being paroled, is back in prison.

Police said 34-year-old Daniel Grunauer approached a 21-year-old man in the 3600 block of North Fremont and “told the victim he was under arrest. The offender then tried to rob and sexually assault the [man]” around 5 a.m. on October 29th last year.

An off-duty officer who was arriving for work at the police station saw the incident unfold and interrupted the crime, police said. Grunauer was arrested nearby minutes later.

Grunauer reached a deal in which he has pleaded guilty to felony impersonation of a police officer in exchange for a six-year prison sentence. Seven other felonies, including attempted criminal sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated battery, and unlawful restraint were dropped in the agreement that was approved by Judge Timothy Joyce. Grunauer is scheduled to be paroled October 23, 2020.

In 2014, Grunauer was sentenced to five years in prison for burglary and a concurrent three years for arson in connection with an intentionally-set fire in an Uptown apartment development.

At the time, Grunauer was considered the prime suspect in a series of alley fires that plagued Wrigleyville and Boystown during the summer of 2014. Many of the fires took place after bar closing time near Grunauer’s then-workplace: Fiesta Cantina at Clark and Roscoe.

Grunauer was also mentioned as the main attraction in the next-to-last tweet from Oak Park gay bar Velvet Rope before it burned down in an arson fire in June 2012.

Velvet Rope owner Frank Elliott pleaded guilty to having the bar set ablaze in an insurance scam and received probation. Elliot also briefly operated Bonsai Bar on Boystown’s Halsted Street bar strip. Grunauer often picked up hours at Bonsai, a source said in 2014.

Grunauer was never charged with the Oak Park fire or the local alley blazes. Notably, the alley fires ceased after he was arrested on the Uptown burglary and arson charges.

Sawyer and a CTA surveillance image of a suspect | CPD; CTA

• Two men have pleaded guilty to battering and robbing a 17-year-old boy in the Loop’s CTA pedestrian tunnels in February. One of the men had been on probation for another robbery for just eleven days at the time of the crime.

Delonte Sawyer, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of robbery and received a four-year sentence. Dernandiez Lindsey, 18, pleaded guilty to aggravated battery and received 30 months probation. Sawyer’s parole date is set for February 21, 2020.

Lindsey | CPD

Prosecutors said Sawyer, Lindsey, a juvenile and an unknown fourth offender confronted a 17-year-old boy in one of the pedestrian tunnels under State Street and demanded his property around 7 a.m. on February 13th. The four then battered the victim, took his Gucci belt, debit card, and $7 cash, according to prosecutors. A CTA surveillance camera captured images of Sawyer, Lindsey, and the other two suspects as they headed toward a train after the robbery, according to police. The victim was treated at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

On February 2, just days before the Loop robbery, Sawyer received probation for beating and robbing a Valparaiso, IN, man in Boystown last year. Sawyer was accused of repeatedly punching the 22-year-old victim and taking the man’s wallet along with other valuables on the Boystown bar strip.

In exchange for his guilty plea in the Boystown case, Judge Timothy Chambers sentenced Sawyer to a cakewalk sentence of 24 months probation and time served of 301 days.

Bovit | CPD

• An Uptown man has pleaded guilty to burglarizing three North Side synagogues in exchange for two-years probation from Judge Lauren Edidin. David Bovit, 28,  had been charged with stealing money from donation boxes and offices at Khal Ohr Yisocher synagogue, and Congregation Tiferes Yisroel, Congregation KINS in spring 2017.

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About CWBChicago 4275 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is