May 19, 2009

Alleged University employee charged with Hyde Park robbery

Chicago Police officers arrested an alleged University of Chicago employee early Thursday morning suspected of mugging a young man earlier that night.

The offender, 21-year-old Solomon Howard of the 6700 block of South Langley Avenue, listed his occupation on a police report as a University custodian. Facilities services did not respond to repeated phone requests, but a University spokesman denied that Howard was an employee.

“[Solomon] is not on the payroll of the University of Chicago or the University of Chicago Medical Center,” spokesman Bill Harms said in an e-mail interview. “In initial checks, the major contractors of custodial and other work for the University of Chicago report that they do not have anybody by the suspect’s name working for them.”

Howard was charged with a felony count of robbery for assaulting a 19-year-old outside his home on East 52nd Street and South Ellis Avenue, according to police spokesman John Mirabelli. It is not known if the victim was a University student. The police report indicated that the man had his wallet and backpack stollen.

Howard was arrested on the 800 block of East 49th Street, walking with two other men. The other men were not arrested.

Under Illinois state law, Howard’s charge carries a sentence of three to seven years in prison, although a judge can mitigate the sentence if a guilty plea is given early in the proceeding, according to James Dimeas, a Chicago criminal defense attorney. Should he be convicted, Howard may still receive parole.

According to a report on CBS 2 Chicago’s Web site, bond was set at $90,000 during a hearing Thursday, and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for May 21 at South Felony Court.