Seventeen years before his drunken crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway led to the fiery deaths of two young men, Chicago Police Officer Joseph Frugoli got in a bar fight that ended with this declaration: "Nobody messes with the Frugolis!"
Frugoli allegedly punched two people at the First Base Tavern in Bridgeport in 1992, grabbed one by the throat, threw them on a pool table and hit them with pool cues. He also allegedly threw glasses and broke two bar stools.
The off-duty cop later admitted he'd been drinking but "was not intoxicated." A sergeant would testify that she'd reached the same conclusion. But Frugoli was never given a field sobriety test or Breathalyzer, records show. Frugoli got away with a five-day suspension.
None of that came to light until this week, well into a civil trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse brought by two families who contend Frugoli thought he could drink and drive with impunity. Their lawsuit revolves around Frugoli's April 2009 crash on the Dan Ryan Expressway that killed Fausto Manzera, 21, and Andrew Cazares, 23.
It wasn't until Monday that city attorneys turned over 116 pages of reports detailing Frugoli's 1992 bar fight. And Tuesday, attorneys representing the families of Frugoli's victims asked for sanctions against the city.
"This is highly damaging information," U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall later said. Kendall held off on calling a mistrial, though. The judge chose instead to admit the newly discovered evidence into the trial and tell jurors they may consider whether the documents were intentionally withheld as part of the city's alleged code of silence.
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