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Fiery argument may have led Oak Lawn man to torch home

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A fierce argument betweencolor-p1-3-col crop an Oak Lawn man and his wife may have led the man to burn down his house a few hours after the dispute, prosecutors said.

  Arunas Samoska, 48, was charged with two counts of aggravated arson and one count of residential arson Monday morning after appearing in Bridgeview Court where a request for bond was denied, according to police. He remains at Cook County Jail.
  Oak Lawn police and fire departments from several communities responded at 5:14 a.m. Saturday to a house fire/explosion in the 8900 block of 55th Court. The house was engulfed with fire and required about one hour to extinguish.
  Prosecutors said Samoska poured gasoline throughout his home, including the living room and the bed in the master bedroom. The vapors ignited when he went to his garage to get more gasoline, prosecutors said.
  The explosion and subsequent fire rendered the home a complete loss, officials said. No one was in the home at the time of the explosion and there were no injuries. The houses on each side of the fire were occupied but no one was injured. A neighboring house sustained considerable damages, police said.
  Samoska was found outside of his home when police and firefighters arrived. He was subsequently questioned by police, who secured search warrants and began collecting physical evidence, which was presented to the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.
  Approximately three hours before the fire, Oak Lawn police responded to the house for an unwanted subject. Police officers intervened in a verbal between Samoska and his wife.
  His wife and children left for a relative’s house while he stayed behind. A co-worker also left the house. Before Samoska’s wife left, she smashed the couple’s wedding photo, prosecutors said. Samoska later found the photo, they said.
  After the house blew up, Samoska admitted in a phone call with a friend that he was responsible, prosecutors said. He also posted an apology on his Facebook page, they said. He also called his wife and left a message in which he admitted to blowing up the house, prosecutors said.
  Samoska is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 3.

Bury is ‘very, very concerned’ about TC Pub’s employee’s arrest

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  One day before the owner of an Oak Lawn bar agreed with the village on a series of modifications designed to prevent underage drinking at his tavern, a manager of his bar was charged with drunken driving and possession of a controlled substance, Oak Lawn police said.

  Jillian M. Lindquist, 30, an Oak Lawn resident and a manager at TC Pub, 9700 S. Cicero Ave., also was charged with speeding, no insurance, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle and illegal transportation of alcohol following a Jan. 5 stop at 105th Street and Pulaski Road, police said.
  Mayor Sandra Bury, who also serves as the village’s liquor commissioner, said she is “very, very concerned” about the incident, which was not brought to her attention before the Jan. 6 liquor commission hearing involving TC Pub.
  At that hearing, Robert Olson, the bar’s owner, was fined $250 for being open after hours on Dec. 13 and $1,000 because cocaine was found in the office of the establishment when police responded to a disturbance that night. Olson apologized at the hearing for everything that happened that night.
  Olson could not be reached for comment about the Jan. 5 arrest.
  The agreement between Olson and the village calls on him to enforce an employee code of conduct as well as a drug-free workplace policy. It also requires employees to complete the state’s Beverage Alcohol Sellers and Servers Education and Training program.
  Bury said it was likely Olson knew about the incident before the liquor commission hearing.
  “He had to have known, being a DUI attorney. I’m sure she called him,” Bury said.
  The mayor said she sent Olson a letter asking for his response to the incident.
  “I’m hoping he’ll tell me there was corrective action,” she said. “His response will determine my next step.”
  Police spotted Lindquist’s car swerving on eastbound 103rd Street at 2:36 a.m. according to reports. The squad car activated its emergency lights but Lindquist sped up, police said. She turned right at 103rd Street and Pulaski Road and stopped near 105th Street.
  Lindquist’s speech was slurred and she allegedly had a strong odor of alcohol on her breath, reports said. She denied she was drinking, but police found an empty bottle of hard apple cider in her car, they said. Police also found a partial pill, later identified as Amphetamine, in her wallet.
  Lindquist said the odor of alcohol existed because she was a bartender. She denied that she sped up when police activated the patrol car lights. She refused to undergo field sobriety tests or chemical testing at the police station, police said.

Mayor Sexton wants Saint Bernadette’s school to stay open

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  News of the closing of St. Bernadette Catholic Academy came as a shock to parents, teachers and students, but Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton isn’t ready to throw in the towel.

  Sexton hoped to meet this week with Principal Arlene Baumann and the Rev. Benedykt Pazdan, St. Bernadette’s pastor, to discuss options for keeping the school open.
  “I think we deserve to sit down and talk,” Sexton said Monday.
  School parents were informed Friday of the decision by the Archdiocese of Chicago to close the 64-year-old school. The news was delivered by Sr. Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Catholic schools for the archdiocese.
  Sexton, who attended the meeting, said the parish community must at least try to save the school, which he described as “a tremendous part of the community.” He said he has not met with parents, as he does not want to raise their hopes. He attended Friday’s meeting at a parent’s request.
  “Nothing is promised at this time,” said Sexton, who added that he needed more information before discussing specific solutions.
  “I’m wondering if there’s an alternative (to closing),” he said. “The kids deserve us to discuss it.”
  Baumann said Monday that parents responded to the news with a mix of shock and resignation.
  “It’s a very close community. The school is truly like a family,” Baumann said Monday morning before visiting classrooms to discuss the news.
  Baumann, principal for the past 14 years, said the decision to close was solely a financial one—a disappointment because the school consistently has high test scores, a diverse student body and uses advanced technology tools.
  Baumann said she did receive advanced news of the decision, adding that she attended a meeting with diocesan officials in December during which plans for next school year were discussed.
  She said that the school will not grieve the decision throughout the remainder of the year.
  “We’re going to have a celebration,” she said. “We have great plans for the next five months.”

  Over the past five years, the Chicago Archdiocese has contributed more than $100 million to operate its school system over and above what local parishes contributed. Continued support at that level is unsustainable, the diocese said in a statement.
  The families of the 775 children affected by the closures of St. Bernadette and five other elementary schools will be encouraged to transfer their children to nearby Catholic schools and offered tuition discounts to offset any inconvenience, the diocese said.
  Evergreen Park also is served by Most Holy Redeemer, Queen of Martyrs and St. John Fisher schools.
  “We are committed to providing a high-quality educational and faith formation experience to every child in our schools,” McCaughey said in a statement. “By focusing our resources on schools that are well positioned to attract an optimum enrollment level and equipped to meet the needs of a modern curriculum we can help ensure this network will remain sustainable over the long term.”
  Pazdan said St. Bernadette parish will remain “vibrant” despite the school’s closing.
  “Though our school is closing, our church and parish will remain open and continue to be a vibrant place where we gather together as a community to profess our faith. Even though we are joining the ranks of Catholic parishes that do not operate a school, St. Bernadette will continue to provide religious education to our children,” Pazdan said in a statement. “Catholic schools will continue to fulfill the mission of nourishing our children both intellectually and spiritually, but, sadly, not here in our parish.”

Oak Lawn cops arrest 12 drunk drivers during the holidays

  Results are in from the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday crackdown on drunk drivers.
  During the holiday season, reducing the deadly dangers from drunk drivers was a top priority as Oak Lawn Police was out in force to arrest those who put themselves and others on the road at risk.
  From December 20, 2013, to January 5, 2014, Oak Lawn Police stopped and arrested 12 drunk drivers who had blood alcohol concentrations over the legal limit of 0.08 grams per deciliter.
  “We warned party-goers not to drink and drive, and we backed it up with aggressive enforcement,” said Sgt. Robert Brewer. “These offenders needed to realize their actions have serious and potentially fatal consequences, and hopefully, now that they have been arrested, they will not put themselves and others at risk by driving drunk again.”
  “Drunk driving is deadly dangerous and people can get too wrapped up in the excitement of the holidays and make bad decisions,” said Brewer. “The bottom line is if you have been celebrating the holidays with alcohol, you don’t belong behind the wheel. Never drink and drive.”
  The recent law enforcement crackdown was funded by federal traffic safety funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation and is part of the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over and Click It or Ticket campaigns.
— Submitted by the Oak Lawn Police Department

Bond set at $1 million for Palos Hills man

  • Written by Bob Rakow

  A Cook County judge set bail at $1 million last Friday for a Palos Hills man charged with attempted murder and aggravated domestic battery after allegedly stabbing his wife and daughter Jan. 7, police said.
  Waldemar Dzbik, 50, stabbed his wife with a collector’s keepsake knife multiple times in the bathroom of their home in the 9700 block of Maple Crest Drive, police said. He stabbed his 19-year-old daughter once in the chest when she tried to pull him off her mother, police said.
  Both victims were taken to Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where Dzbik’s wife underwent surgery, police said. His daughter was treated and released, officials said.
  The incident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. When police arrived, they located the victim and her daughter at a neighbor’s house. Dzbik, meanwhile, fled in his Volkswagen Jetta. Palos Hills Police Chief Paul Madigan found Dzbik sitting in his car at 12:30 p.m. in the parking lot of a McCook trucking company, police said.
  Dzbik drove away when he saw Madigan approach his car, but he was later arrested by Madigan near 47th Street and Harlem Avenue, according to reports.
  Police have responded in the past to domestic disturbances at the house, they said.