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State wire briefs

New United policy: Crews can’t displace seated passengers

New United policy: Crews can’t displace seated passengers

CHICAGO – United Airlines is changing a company policy and will no longer allow crew members to displace customers already onboard an airplane.

The change comes after a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged from a fully booked United Express flight in Chicago because he refused to give up his seat to make room for crew members. Cellphone video of the incident sparked widespread outrage and created a public relations nightmare for United.

Under the change outlined in an internal email Friday, a crew member must make must-ride bookings at least 60 minutes before departure. Crews previously could be booked until the time of departure.

United spokeswoman Maggie Schmerin said in an email Sunday that the change is an initial step in a review of policies and it’s meant to ensure that situations such as Dao’s never happen again.

More Chicago buildings join energy efficiency program

CHICAGO – City officials said 76 buildings representing more than 50 million square feet of space now are a part of Chicago’s energy efficiency program.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced last week that 14 new buildings have joined the Retrofit Chicago Energy Challenge for a total of 76. Officials said it’s among the largest voluntary programs of its kind nationwide.

Emanuel said the increased participation sends a “clear signal” that Chicago is a leader in sustainability.

The program is a partnership between the city and environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Report: Circuit judge’s inmate visits lasted up to 8 hours

BELLEVILLE – A published report shows jail visits of up to eight hours between a southern Illinois judge and a parolee who lived with him for a period of time and later was charged with first degree murder.

Ron Duebbert, who won election in November, was placed on administrative duties after a January complaint filed against him with the Judicial Inquiry Board that accuses him of violating rules of judicial conduct during the murder investigation involving a parolee, David E. Fields.

The Belleville News-Democrat reported that Duebbert, a St. Clair County circuit judge, regularly visited Fields in jail. The newspaper cited visitor logs obtained through a lawsuit after being denied an information request.

The News-Democrat reported that as a sitting judge, Duebbert is restricted from talking about the Fields criminal case or investigation by the Judicial Inquiry Board.

In previous statements, Duebbert said that he was “being Christian” and trying to help Fields get his life together.

Formerly homeless man gets 54 years in Chicago slaying

CHICAGO – A formerly homeless man has been sentenced to 54 years in prison for the 2010 slaying of a 94-year-old Chicago retiree who had once taken him in.

Cook County Judge Stanley Sacks ordered 46-year-old Gilbert Feliciano to serve the prison sentence for home invasion, robbery and the murder of Stanley Letkiewicz, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Letkiewicz had noticed Feliciano begging for money outside of a store and decided to allow him to stay at his home. He paid Feliciano to clean or fix things in the basement and the attic. Letkiewicz’s relatives said the living arrangement became strained after Feliciano’s behavior became erratic and violent at times.

Authorities said Feliciano approached Letkiewicz on Sept. 3 while he was taking out the trash. Prosecutors said Feliciano asked him for $40. When Letkiewicz didn’t give him the money, Feliciano forced Letkiewicz into the home, beat him up and stole $100 from him.

Letkiewicz identified Feliciano as his attacker, but police hadn’t arrested him before Oct. 13, when a neighbor found Letkiewicz badly beaten in his home, said Jamie Santini, assistant state’s attorney. He was taken to the hospital, where he told authorities who his attacker was before he died Nov. 23.

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