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Moose members helped fugitive flee Elgin cops, report says

The ElgMoose Club lodge. | Sun-Times Medifile

The Elgin Moose Club lodge. | Sun-Times Media file

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Updated: December 19, 2013 9:33AM

ELGIN — Police say Elgin Moose Club members helped a fellow member evade officers attempting to arrest him on a felony drug charge.

Now the city’s Liquor Control Commission, which has the power to revoke liquor licenses, wants leaders of the club to discuss what happened.

Representatives of Elgin Moose Lodge 799 are scheduled to appear before the commission in January to talk about the Sept. 27 incident in which some members allegedly helped the man flee the club. Police contend that the members then lied to officers about the man’s whereabouts until, eventually, police convinced them to get the man to return to face arrest.

Footage from the club’s recently installed security cameras contradicted the members’ statements, according to a case report obtained this week by The Courier-News under the Freedom of Information Act.

Report synopsis

According to the report:

Elgin police went to the Elgin Moose Family Center at 925 S. McLean Blvd. about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27 after Sgt. James Lalley received a tip that Anthony Oswald, 39, who was wanted on a Chicago Police Department warrant for possession of a controlled substance, was at the lodge.

Lalley and another officer asked to enter and were let into the club by a member. While the other officer checked the lodge’s liquor license, Lalley searched the bar full of patrons for Oswald and walked to the kitchen.

Mark Camacho, who told police he was a past club board member, said he could assist officers. Lalley asked to look around the rear of the building after a female lodge employee told his partner that some members had rushed Oswald to the back of the club when the officers entered.

Camacho stated that he had not seen Oswald in several days. Police searched the establishment for about 45 minutes, until Lalley noticed surveillance cameras in the ceiling and asked to view footage from them. The footage showed the fugitive working in the kitchen. Lalley pointed to Oswald on the video and asked Camacho why he said he had not seen him. Camacho left the office without answering.

Lalley continued watching the video and at the point when police entered the bar, a man later identified as Edgar Nash, the junior governor of the lodge, could be seen quickly heading to the kitchen where he spoke with Oswald. He then gestured toward the rear of the business and ran to the rear door and off camera with Oswald. A few seconds later, Nash returned to within camera shot without Oswald and walked past officers as they entered the establishment.

Lalley then asked Nash what he was doing in the video. Nash stated that he knew Oswald had a drug charge warrant and that he told him to go out the back door because the police had just come in the front door.

Nash said he was sorry and that he did not want Oswald to get arrested. Lalley told Nash that what he had done was obstruction of justice, a felony. Lalley told Nash that club members cannot commit felonies at the lodge, especially since it has a liquor license. (No criminal charges were filed by Elgin police against the lodge members after the incident.)

Lalley then asked Nash to call Oswald and request that he return. Nash told police he believed that Oswald was with the governor of the club, Rich Henson, 44. Nash used his cellphone and spoke with Oswald, who agreed to return to the club.

In another call about 10 minutes later, Henson told police that Oswald was with him and that they were returning to the club. Henson said he knew Oswald had a warrant but wanted to know what authority officers had to enter the private club. He asked if officers had a warrant.

Lalley explained that police had received information that the fugitive was at the lodge. Lalley also explained that the club has a liquor license, and that officers can enter to conduct inspections, which they did.

Henson became angry, and stated, “Oh, you’re going to play that card,” and hung up the phone.

About five minutes, later a vehicle driven by Oswald arrived at the lodge, with Henson in the passenger seat. Officers took Oswald into custody.

Lalley told Henson that the club cannot harbor a fugitive on its property.

Henson told police that he did not care because everyone in the club is family.

Henson then said that this is how the club operates and that police are not allowed in his club. Oswald was taken to the Elgin lockup downtown and placed in a cell to await pickup by the Chicago Police Department.

The investigation was referred to the Elgin Liquor Control Commission for review, the report stated.

Moose reply

The liquor commission, which is made up of the entire nine-member Elgin City Council, was notified about the Sept. 27 incident in an email from Corporation Counsel William Cogley on Nov. 27.

Mayor Dave Kaptain — himself a Moose member — said he heard about the matter in October, went to the club the first Sunday in November to discuss what happened and asked for a letter about the incident.

Kaptain subsequently received a letter from the club’s executive board and director noting that Henson had been suspended from the Moose for a year and was not allowed to go into any Moose lodge for that period. Oswald is suspended while his matter is handled by the courts and, if he is found guilty, he will be expelled from the club, according to the letter. There were no disciplinary measures mentioned for other Moose members.

Because he is a member, Kaptain recused himself of a vote on Dec. 4 on the matter asking club representatives to come before the commission next month — and said he will be recusing himself from voting on any actions that might be decided.

“I thought that we needed to, at the very least, bring them before the liquor commission based on the events that took place at their property,” said Councilwoman Tish Powell of the upcoming Jan. 8 discussion.

“I felt that this would be consistent with what we have done in the past with other liquor establishments that have had criminal incidents occur on their property. Furthermore, I found the level of disrespect and arrogance shown to our police officers that evening to be completely unacceptable.”

A phone call to the Elgin Moose lodge Wednesday was answered by a man who refused to identify himself and who said the lodge had no comment. An email from the Elgin Moose Family Center Wednesday afternoon also confirmed it would not comment on the police report. Moose International spokesman Darryl Mellema said that the incident is a matter for the courts and that the organization had no comment.

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