July 23, 2003

CTA Initiative Designed to Rid System of Lawbreakers

Less than a month since a court first barred a repeat offender from the CTA system, a second repeat offender has been dealt the same sentence. Repeatedly committing unlawful acts on Chicago Transit Authority property has resulted in the barring of Anthony Starnes, age 37, of Chicago, from CTA property for a period of one year. Starnes is the second individual this month ordered banned under the repeat offender initiative.

The CTA launched the repeat offender initiative to enhance the riding experience by ridding the system of lawbreakers. Under the initiative, the CTA works in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Cook County Probation Office and Cook County Social Services, to ?exclude? ? or bar from CTA property ? any individual who, on more than one occasion within a year, commits acts in violation of state and municipal laws on CTA property.

On May 31, Starnes was arrested for criminal trespass at the Clark & Lake Blue Line subway station after officers from the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Section observed him bumping into and jostling CTA customers. Starnes is a known pickpocket with 15 previous CTA arrests. Following his arrest on May 31, officers discovered that Starnes was also in violation of a bail bond resulting from a May 26 arrest for criminal trespass and reckless conduct on CTA property. On July 14, Starnes appeared before Judge Mark Ballard in the Circuit Court of Cook County who sentenced him to time served (49 days) plus a one-year ban from the CTA system.

Less than a month ago, Robert Ross, age 41, of Chicago, became the first person to be banned from the CTA under the repeat offender initiative. Ross pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal trespass for selling loose cigarettes and soliciting customers for cab rides while on CTA property. He was ordered to stay away from CTA property for a period of 18 months. Since 1998, Ross had committed approximately 45 offenses on CTA property ranging from peddling transit cards to not paying his fare.

?The CTA operates the second largest transit system in the country and we are committed to providing the best transit experience we can for residents and visitors. The repeat offender initiative demonstrates just how serious we are about that," said CTA President Frank Kruesi. ?Anyone who violates the law on our system, as well as the rules and regulations of the CTA, will be dealt with appropriately."

Under the initiative, the police arrest and charge individuals when they:

Are found in any unauthorized area of CTA property, including the right of way

Use the transit system for any purpose other than transportation without the CTA's authorization

Commit violations of unlawful sales, solicitation and begging or unsafe conduct

The State's Attorney's Office prosecutes repeat offenders, seeking as part of any sentence an exclusion order prohibiting the repeat offender from entering or using the CTA system for a specified length of time. If any repeat offender violates conditions of his/her sentence, including the exclusion order, he or she will automatically receive jail time, the length of which is determined by a judge.

The CTA works with the police and State's Attorney's Office to help build cases against repeat offenders by providing background information about the offense, as well as witnesses. As offenders are barred from CTA property, CTA personnel are supplied with photographs and information on ?excluded? offenders ? such as their name, physical description, length of time for exclusion and offense. CTA employees notify the Chicago Police Department's Public Transportation Section immediately if an offender is found to be in violation of an exclusion order.

Members of the Cook County Probation and Social Services Departments do their part by monitoring repeat offenders who are ordered by the court to complete a designated number of community service hours

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