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Bond court for cop charged in Dan Ryan crash

Cop charged in Dan Ryan crash in police custody
April 15, 2009 3:37:24 PM PDT
Veteran Chicago police officer Joseph Frugoli was set to appear in bond court Sunday, charged in the drunk driving deaths of two men.Joseph Frugoli has been charged with reckless homicide and aggravated driving under the influence. He also faces one count of leaving the scene of an accident involving death.

Investigators say the detective caused the crash that claimed the lives of two promising young men: 21-year-old Fausto Manzera and Andrew Cazares, 23.

Detective Frugoli turned away from cameras Saturday as he was released from the hospital and into police custody, one day after investigators say he caused a fiery early morning crash that claimed the lives of the two men.

Frugoli's attorney. Greg Smith, accompanied by an unidentified man, left court Saturday afternoon after a bond hearing for his client was rescheduled from Saturday to Sunday because there was a delay in formally processing the 41-year-old veteran police officer.

Disappointed family and friends of one of the men killed also left court with little to say Saturday.

"We have no comments," said Manzera family spokesperson Michael Rihani said when asked if he was disappointed that justice had been delayed.

Relatives and friends continued to gather at the home of Manzera Saturday afternoon. The DePaul University marketing student was the passenger in the vehicle of his best friend when the accident happened.

Friend Patrick O'Malley has known Manzera since they graduated high school together in 2006.

"It was a shame what happened. He was a great kid. He was really artistic, outgoing, always happy and fun to be around," said O'Malley.

Investigators say Frugoli was off-duty and had a blood alcohol content three-times the legal limit when he slammed into the disabled Dodge intrepid driven by Andrew Cazares. Cazares's vehicle was stopped in the right lane on the outbound Dan Ryan expressway near 18th Street, possibly with a flat tire, when Frugoli's black Lexus SUV rear-ended the car, which then burst into flames.

Some who knew Cazares said, after some tough years as a teen, he was turning his life around.

"He told me he had been doing good for a whole year. He said he was picking himself up," said neighbor Sterling Pfizer.

While the two men died, officers say Frugoli fled, walking away from the crash. However, he was arrested a few blocks away.

Colleagues of the 18-year police officer describe him as a good cop who loved his job. Frugoli's neighbors remain shocked.

"He seems like a nice guy. His mom and dad just passed away. He's a good neighbor. I can't say anything bad about him," said one unidentified neighbor.

Published reports indicate the recent crash is the most serious traffic incident for Frugoli. The Chicago Tribune reports Frugoli was cited in at least three traffic incidents dating back to 1990, the most similar to Friday's crash being a January 2005 accident on the Ryan expressway. In that case, a civil court judge reportedly ordered Frugoli to pay $7,000 in damages, after he struck a 61-year-old man's car from behind and pushed it into a median wall.

In all the accidents, tickets issued to Frugoli were either dropped or thrown out.

Detective Frugoli has been stripped of his police powers.


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