Boystown menace gets 8 years for armed robbery near Belmont L station

Ryan Handzel | CPD

A neighborhood menace who got probation for burning down a Boystown home during a year of asinine behavior around Boystown has been handed serious prison time for her latest stunt: robbing a man at knifepoint near the Belmont Red Line station.

Ryan Handzel, 24, was sentenced to seven years for Class X felony armed robbery by Judge Timothy Chambers in a plea deal that called for prosecutors to drop an additional felony aggravated battery charge. With 369 days credit for time served while awaiting trial and Illinois’ automatic 50% sentence reduction, Handzel is expected to be released on October 15, 2021.

Prosecutors said that Handzel and then-24-year-old Dionte Smith flagged down cops near the 800 block of West Fletcher at 3:30 a.m. on April 21, 2018, and reported that a man had just robbed them. Cops spoke with the alleged robber who said Handzel and Smith had it twisted: They had just punched him in the face and robbed him at knifepoint, according to prosecutors.

Handzel received probation for this Boystown fire.

A search of Handzel and Smith revealed that they were carrying the real victim’s property, according to police. Both were charged with felony armed robbery. Smith’s case continues to work its way through the court system.

In October 2016, Handzel was accused of punching a 24-year-old man in the face two times during an argument in the 800 block of West Waveland. When the victim dropped his cell phone after being hit, Handzel picked it up and handed it to another offender who fled the scene, police said.

Police said Handzel told them, “I hit [the victim] in the head twice, but I didn’t intend to steal [the] phone.” She was charged with battery and theft, but the charges were dropped when the victim failed to appear in court.

Most infamously, Handzel is one of two people convicted of “accidentally” burning down a 126-year-old Boystown home in April 2016.

Handzel and co-offender Keith L. Williams were both sentenced to probation for the fire.

Darius Moses was accused of choking and robbing the victim in the 1400 block of North State. | CPD; Google

A man who was charged with choking a robbery victim into unconsciousness during a robbery in the Gold Coast last summer has pleaded guilty to one count of robbery in a plea deal. Judge Catherine Haberkorn sentenced 30-year-old Darius Moses to eight years in prison with credit for 290 days time served. Five felony counts including aggravated battery and unlawful restraint were dropped in the deal.

The robbery victim said he was rendered unconscious and robbed as he walked through the Gold Coast on his way home from an after-work social function on July 20, 2018.

“It was a nice night, and I elected to walk back home, which I’ve easily done at least fifty times in the past twelve years or so,” the victim told us. The 41-year-old, who works in healthcare, asked not to be identified by name.

Police said that just after midnight, the man was walking in the 1400 block of North State Parkway when two offenders grabbed him from behind, placed him into a chokehold, and knocked him to the ground.

“I was choked, dragged down and beaten up,” he said, adding that he doesn’t remember the attack because he was knocked unconscious. “I woke up in Northwestern with a broken nose, fractured orbit, a black eye, and a chipped tooth. They stole my phone, laptop bag with a laptop, and the cash out of my wallet.”

Luckily, a witness saw the robbery unfold, and he gave detailed descriptions of the offenders to police. About twenty minutes later, cops stopped Moses in the 100 block of West Division because he matched one of the offender’s descriptions. Moses, police said, was carrying the victim’s phone.

Moses previously served three years for another robbery in 2007.  After receiving a 50% discount on his current sentence and being given credit for time served awaiting trial, he is expected to be paroled on July 15, 2022.

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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