Beer, a bow and arrow and more: The suburbs' oddest crimes in 2019
It wouldn't be wrong to say that every arrest, every criminal charge and every conviction involved some poor choices along the way.
But a handful of suburban cases that caught our eyes in 2019 saw the decision making reach a new level of bad.
From the man accused of letting an 11-year-old drive herself and a younger child to school, to the food plant employee who didn't think through his plan to get out of work early, it was a year of bad calls and questionable choices.
Here's a look at some of those dubious decisions in our annual recap of the suburbs' year in weird crime.
Beer on the bus
Many of us enjoy a cold beer now and again after a long day on the job. The key word here being "after."
Police in Aurora say Michelle Passley didn't wait until after she punched the clock before she cracked her first cold one of the day ... while working as a school bus driver.
Passley, 44, of North Aurora, was charged last month with two misdemeanor counts of endangering the life or health of a child after police obtained onboard video footage showing her drinking beer while taking 32 children to school the morning of Nov. 15.
Aurora police credited a convenience store clerk for the tip that broke the case. The clerk became concerned after selling Passley two cans of beer and watching her drive off in a school bus, police said.
Passley is scheduled to make her first court appearance Dec. 27.
Sooner isn't always better. Like when it comes time to learn how to drive.
Police in Round Lake Park say one local man thought otherwise and put an 11-year-old girl behind the wheel for the drive to school Jan. 9.
School employees saw the girl drive up to the school drop-off point and get out from the driver's seat, according to police. A 9-year-old hopped out from the back, police said, while an adult man slid over from the front passenger seat to take the wheel.
Teachers later identified the man as Khafilu M. Oshodi, 31, a relative of the girl, police said. He was charged with child endangerment and a warrant was issued for his arrest, but it appears he's still on the lam, court records indicate.
"Drop-off and pickup are the busiest times of the school day," Round Lake Park Police Chief George Filenko said back in January. "This irresponsible behavior could've resulted in any number of tragic scenarios."
Love gone wrong
Some will go to great lengths to save a struggling relationship, but authorities say one Des Plaines woman's plan to get her man into counseling went way too far.
Fatma Ozturk-Caliskan, 41, was arrested on a kidnapping charge in October, after prosecutors say she set upon the man in his Mount Prospect home, beat him with an object, tied his hands with rope and told him she wanted to take him to Pennsylvania. That's where she planned to meet with a cleric who could help them repair their relationship, authorities said.
After initially refusing, the man reluctantly agreed to go -- but escaped at his first opportunity and ran to a neighbor's to call 911, prosecutors said.
Ozturk-Caliskan, who faces up to seven years in prison if convicted, is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 8.
The price of fame
Viral fame is fleeting. A felony record is forever.
A group of suburban men may learn that lesson the hard way after a YouTube prank gone wrong landed them behind bars in June facing felony charges of impersonating a police officer.
DuPage County authorities say the men knocked on doors in West Chicago, Wheaton and Winfield late at night June 3. One pretended to be a police officer while the others filmed his interactions with homeowners, officials said. Authorities say they planned to post the filmed gags on social media.
The suspects -- 19-year-olds Corey Abendroth of Wheaton, Thomas Kozie of Oak Park and Luke Halstead of Winfield, along with 22-year-old Khoung Dam of Carol Stream -- are scheduled to appear in court next month.
Next time, call in sick
Antonio P. Fletcher wanted to leave work early May 6. That's understandable.
Not so understandable is what he did about it -- he called 911 and falsely reported an active shooting at his Mundelein workplace.
While the phony call had the desired effect and Fletcher was able to sneak out before his shift was over, police quickly determined it was a ruse and traced the call to the Mundelein man's cellphone.
Fletcher pleaded guilty in August to a felony disorderly conduct charge and was sentenced to serve 350 days in the Lake County jail.
Way off target
Sure, practice makes perfect. But practicing in the wrong place at the wrong time makes trouble.
Such was the case last month in Aurora, police say, when bowhunter Daniel Smorczewski took aim at a practice deer in his backyard and missed. Badly.
The errant shot sent an arrow flying across the street and into the leg of a neighbor who was outside painting.
The neighbor, fortunately, wasn't seriously hurt. Smorczewski faces a misdemeanor count of reckless conduct and is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 11.
• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.