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Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine's Car on Eve of Deployment

NOTE:  Jay Grodner pled guilty.  An important update is posted here.

This ought to make your blood boil.  And this Marine should receive a commendation for not kicking the living crap out of the guy...seriously.

Marine Sgt Mike McNulty is on activation orders to Iraq (second tour).  On December 1st, 2007, Mike went to visit a friend in Chicago before deploying to say goodbye.  In order to get to his friend's residence, and keep in mind that Chicago is a myriad of diagonal and one-way streets, the front entrance (right way) to the one-way street was blocked.  Mike, being a Marine, overcame and adapted by driving around the block to the other end of the street and backing up all the way to his friend's place. 

While saying goodbye, at about 11am, he noticed a man leaning up against his car. Mike left his friend's apartment and caught the man keying his car on multiple sides.


After caught in the process, the man told Mike, "you think you can do whatever you want with Department of Defense license plates and tags".  (In Illinois you can purchase veteran, Marine, or medal plates.  Mike has Illinois Marine Corps license plates.)  During the exchange, he made additional anti-military comments.

Mike called the Chicago police and had the man arrested. A citation against the man was issued for misdemeanor criminal damage to private property.

The police report (and I have copies if needed) states:

Victim related to P/O that as he walked back to his vehicle, he observed the offender leaning up against his vehicle and rubbed/dragged his left arm and hand across the passenger side.  As offender walked away from victim's vehicle, victim observed a scratch along the rear trunk and passenger's door area where offender dragged his arm and hand over.  Victim and witness stopped offender and confronted him.  Victim has military plates and decals on his vehicle and offender made anti war and military comments to victim.  Upon P/O's arrival to scene, offender denied scratch victim's vehicle, but did admit to rubbing past it.  Victim at this time did not sign complaint, because he is leaving tour for military duty.  Offender said they accused him of scratching the car because he is Jewish.  Offender's statements/responses to P/O's questions unreasonable.      

As it turns out, the man is Chicago lawyer Jay R. Grodner, who owns a law firm in the city and has offices in the suburbs.

After sending the car to the body shop, it was determined there is $2400 in damage, making this a felony. Mike went to court Friday morning to collect the damages against Mr. Grodner and file felony charges. Though the damages are over $300 (the amount which determines felony or misdemeanor) Grodner offered Mike to pay his deductible, $100, and have Mike's insurance pay for it.

The Illinois States Attorneys tried to coerce Mike into accepting the offer. Appalled, Mike said he wanted this to be a felony. The state told Mike that it was not worth pursuing felony damage against Grodner because they don't have the time. In addition, the state prosecutors told him that he would never it 'would be difficult to recover the damages' from Grodner because he is a lawyer.

Instead, the State asked Mike if he would accept probation for Grodner. Mike accepted, probation was offered to Grodner, and Grodner declined the offer, saying within ear shot of Mike, "I'm not going to make it easy on this kid". Mike's next court date is tomorrow, Monday, December 31st, to pursue misdemeanor charges against Grodner.

Mike's leave is over on January 2nd when he reports to Camp Pendleton before heading to Iraq.

Jay Grodner knows this and is going to file for a continuance until Mike is gone and cannot appear in court.

By account of the Illinois State's Attorneys, Grodner is likely to get away with defacing Mike's car with no penalty because, 1) Mike is about to deploy to Iraq and will not be available to appear in court, and 2) Grodner is a lawyer and can get out of this very easily.

So, does anyone have any ideas about how to proceed?  All peaceful and rational ideas are welcomed.  We are contacting the media about this, too.

Please pass this story on to anyone you know that might be able to help.

Update 12-31-07 1000 CST:  The hearing is today.  After about four hundred emails offering help, I've taken down the email address for now.  If I haven't sent you a reply, I apologize and hopefully will send one soon. 

I will post updates as they occur.  There are several options and we'll see what happens in court first before Mike decides on the next move.

And, BTW, a sincere thanks to all the Chicago Police Officers for their advice and offers.

Let me be clear.  I do not want anyone to harass the lawyer, threaten him, damage his property or propose any other illegal suggestion.  We can win this one clean and fair - one way or another...

Update 12-31-07 2000 CST:  A Blackfive reader sends this update about the hearing today...

Attn:  Black Five

I am writing to produce an update of the results of Sgt McNulty's case against Jay R Grodner.  I was present in support of Mike and thought you may be interested in an update for this story.   

Sgt McNulty was called forward by the State's Attorney in order to discuss the case.  I am not sure what transpired behind the closed doors, however, I overheard the State's Attorney expressing her intent to prosecute this guy to the fullest extent.   It seems as if BlackFive is the sole catalyst to this story getting out and I am sure Sgt McNulty has probably heard the effect of yours and other blogs from the results of today's proceedings to include several Marines and civilians who showed up in his support.

Jay R Grodner was called before court and in his absence, the Judge issued a warrant for his arrest effective immediately.   Sgt McNulty was departing the court when Grodner rolled in to the courtroom more pathetic than anyone I had ever seen.  The Judge had questioned him on his tardiness and he explained that traffic had been busy and he 'made a wrong turn'.   The Judge chastised him for his tardiness, pathetic excuses, and that he was lucky the warrant had not been executed prior to his arrival. 

It seems the blogosphere has put the ball in Sgt McNulty's court.  Furthermore, it is also apparent that the State's Attorney's Office has decided to take this matter on a much more serious level.   A new and very aggressive State's Attorney seems to have a genuine interest in pursuing this case to the extent that it warrants. 

A lot of good people deserve our thanks today.  Thousands responded with emails and phone calls and some even went to support Mike at the hearing.  Thank you.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - Blackfive and military blogs have the best readers on the planet - we really are a true community. 

And, long time regular TB, sends this link to a Free Republic reader who also attended the hearing and provides a report.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to ring in the New Year.  Twelve years ago, Mrs. Blackfive (before the "Mrs.") and I had our first date, and our first kiss was at midnight.  We have a tradition to maintain.

Thank you!  And have a Happy New Year!

Update 01-03-08: The Chicago Tribune's John Kass has a column up about the incident.