5-time felon gets probation for falsely reporting an officer shot in Boystown

CHICAGO — A five-time convicted felon, sent to prison for setting a string of arson fires on the North Side and later for impersonating police outside the Town Hall police station in Lakeview, has been sentenced to probation for falsely reporting to 911 that a Chicago police officer had been shot in Boystown.

Daniel Grunauer, 40, pleaded guilty this week to filing a false 911 complaint, a felony, before Judge Michael Hood. The judge handed him 36 months of probation.

Late one night last June, the Chicago 911 center received several calls about non-existent emergencies in Boystown. There was a false report of someone overdosing and two calls of people armed with knives. Prosecutors said the calls came from the same number, which police traced back to Grunauer.

But it was the false report of a police officer being shot that led to Grunauer being charged.

Amid the false reports, a 911 caller reported an officer down at Halsted and Roscoe streets, which was bustling with post-Pride Fest revelers. Prosecutors said another 911 call asked for all available officers to respond to the scene. But there was no officer down, much less an officer shot.

A CPD sergeant reviewed the 911 call logs and learned the number used to make the false reports was registered to Grunauer, prosecutors said. Knowing that Grunauer has a history of similar behavior, the sergeant filed a report and sent Grunauer’s picture to patrol officers.

After cops located Grunauer, an officer asked a police dispatcher to call the number that made the phony 911 calls. Grunauer’s phone rang.

Daniel Grunauer (Chicago Police Department)

Grunauer’s sentence also includes 520 days of confinement, which was satisfied by credits he earned while on electronic monitoring in the case. He must submit to random drug testing, “obtain or maintain” employment, provide a DNA sample for indexing, and complete a mental health evaluation and treatment, according to court records.

In March 2014, Grunauer was charged with phoning in a false marine distress at Edgewater Beach, sending the U.S. Coast Guard and the Chicago Police Department’s helicopter and Marine Unit searching for a non-existent person in the water. In court records, police alleged that Grunauer falsely reported that a man yelling something about a woman and “Allah” slipped on the rock and fell into the lake. All charges were dropped.

Grunauer’s attempted arson conviction stems from a fire he allegedly set in Uptown in August 2014. That crime was caught on video, but Chicago police suspected he was responsible for other fires set in alleys around Boystown and Wrigleyville that same year. At the time, Grunauer worked as a bartender at a bar on Clark Street in Wrigleyville.

His burglary conviction came after he broke into an Uptown apartment building undergoing renovations on June 8, 2014. An arson fire swept through a section of the building that same day.

A week before the apartment break-in, a building manager in the 5800 block of Kenmore told police that two witnesses saw Grunauer throwing lit pieces of paper out of his window, setting fire to a couch below.

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 Wrigleyville-Boystown alley fires.

Less than four months after he was paroled in the arson case, Grunauer was accused of impersonating the police during an assault near the 19th District police station, 850 West Addison.

Grunaer approached a 21-year-old man near the station parking lot and identified himself as a police officer, a CPD spokesperson said at the time. He told the victim he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back.

But a real police officer arriving for work saw the incident unfolding and interrupted the crime, police said.

A grand jury indicted Grunauer on charges of attempted criminal sexual assault, kidnapping, aggravated battery, and more. But he pleaded guilty to a single count of impersonating police in exchange for a six-year prison sentence, according to court records.

About Tim Hecke 252 Articles
Tim Hecke is CWBChicago's managing partner. He started his career at KMOX, the legendary news radio station in St. Louis. From there, he moved on to work at stations in Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City. Tim went on to build syndicated radio news and content services that served every one of America's 100 largest radio markets. He became CWBChicago's managing partner in 2019. His email address is tim@cwbchicago.com