Cop charged in DUI fatal free on $500K bond

Bond set at $500K for Chicago cop
April 12, 2009 9:16:49 PM PDT
The Chicago police detective involved in a deadly crash on the Dan Ryan expressway has been released on bond after appearing in court Sunday.Bond had been set at $500,000, which meant the detective had to come up with $50,000 in cash.

Frugoli is facing several charges in the fiery crash that killed two people Friday morning, including reckless homicide, aggravated driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident.

The two young men who were killed are 23-year-old Andrew Cazares of Summit, and 21-year-old Fausto Manzera of Chicago.

Family members of the victims were upset Sunday that bond was not set higher, which they feared would lead to Frugoli's quick release from jail.

The veteran police officer's lawyer argued Sunday that Detective Joe Frugoli was entitled to a reasonable bond, not a punitive one.

The fiery rear-end collision on the Ryan early Friday was an accident. The disabled car Frugoli rammed into did not have its hazard lights on, and it was in an exit lane. The elevated section of the Ryan where the crash occurred has no shoulder.

"This is a tragedy for three families. My client and his family are heart broken over the loss of two, fine young men. This was an unintentional act. No one went out that night to harm anybody," said Frugoli's attorney Gregg Smith.

Frugoli is charged with two counts of reckless homicide, and aggravated driving under the influence.

Hours before the crash, Frugoli had been drinking at a neighborhood bar in Bridgeport, then a nite spot in Greektown. Prosecutors say his blood-alcohol level after his arrest was .277, over three times the legal limit.

He was arrested after having walked away from the scene. His lawyer said Sunday Frugoli was disoriented and was not trying to flee.

That explanation and the bond set for Frugoli angered some of relatives and friends of the two young victims. Some said they thought he should not have been released at all, and that anger spilled outside the courthouse, leading to one man being handcuffed. That man was later released without charges.

Family members and friend said they were furious with reports Frugoli had been involved in previous accidents where drinking was alleged but was never charged. They suggested Frugoli got a free pass. Just last week, the detective was ordered to pay a $7,000 civil court judgement for a non-fatal rear-end collision in 2005. Also, in January of 2008, he allegedly ran a stop sign near his home and hit a Chicago police squad car.

"They have their own laws; they get to do what they want. If this was us, we'd be in jail. He shouldn't have a license, and these boys would be alive today," said Cazares family friend Ken Dennison.

Manzera was a junior at DePaul majoring in marketing. His family says, in their time of grief, they have turned to a quote that Manzera was fond of.

" 'And at the end of your existence, what accomplishments do you have to show for yourself?' Always stay focused, and that's what we're trying to do to do , to stay focused. We're trying to put Fausto to rest and celebrate his life," said the victim's brother-in-law Michael Rahani.

Frugoli has been stripped of his police mowers, and the Chicago Police Department has begun an internal affairs investigation.

The detective's lawyer was asked about previous traffic accidents involving his client, and he said, "We've all had traffic tickets and personal issues. I'm not going to talk about anything else regarding background."


Load Comments