Skip to comments.Chicago Fireman Charged With Arson (Update on the Fire Dept. Lieutenant Torch Artist)
Posted on 02/11/2005 2:36:51 PM PST by Land_of_Lincoln_John
CHICAGO (CBS/AP) Political clout may have played a role in the promotion of a 25-year-veteran of the Chicago Fire Department who was charged with setting eight fires in the city and suburbs.
Lieutenant Jeffrey Boyle faces eight counts of felony arson -- four in connection with fires on Chicago's far northwest side on Sunday and Monday.
Chicago and Park Ridge police are working together to investigate other arson fires that Boyle may have been involved in, Chicago police Bomb and Arson Section Lt. Wayne Micek said at a Thursday news conference at Chicago police headquarters.
Boyle is suspected in about six other arson fires in the suburb between 1998 and 2001, according to Park Ridge police Chief Jeff Caudill. Park Ridge police expect to charge Boyle with at least four of those fires on Friday.
But while Jeffrey Boyle was allegedly setting fires, he was supposed to be keeping an eye on his brother, John "Quarters" Boyle, who was released to his custody after being charges as a key figure in the city's Hired Truck scandal. Jeffrey Boyle had been named his "third-party custodian."
A federal judge said Thursday a new custodian -- the person responsible for informing the court if John Boyle violates conditions of bond -- will be named.
CBS 2 has learned that John Boyle has bragged to others that his political clout won Jeffrey Boyle a so-called merit promotion to lieutenant.
"I don't believe that political clout should play a role in any promotion," Fire Commissioner Cortez Trotter said at a Thursday press conference. "The process is not about politics."
But that's what John Boyle claims happened. John says his brother bypassed the normal priority list after John went to former chief of staff Victor Reyes and Ald. Isaac Carothers (29th).
All of this happened under the watch of former fire commissioner James Joyce.
Reyes did not return calls, and aids for Carothers said he underwent throat surgery Thursday afternoon and could not talk.
Jeffrey Boyle has been a firefighter since 1980 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2002.
Chicago police say Boyle blamed stress for triggering a desire to set fires.
The fires occurred in dumpsters, detached garages, and newly built homes in Park Ridge, Caudill said. No one was injured in any of the fires, he said.
In light of the charges, Boyle has been placed on paid administrative leave, Trotter said Thursday.
Boyle told investigators he would be driving around when he suddely felt an urge to set a fire, Micek said.
"He really couldn't give one solid explanation of why he would do this. He would just drive around at times he wasn't feeling right, and all of a sudden ... an unknown emotion would trigger him that he would want to go set a fire," Micek said.
While he did not give specific reasons for starting the fires, Boyle did state that he was under stress, includ ing from his relationship with his girlfriend and his brother's legal problems, he said.
All were set in trash bins, but one got out of control and damaged the computer room at Immaculate Conception School.
Boyle has admitted to setting the fire at the school, as well as the Monday fires at a restaurant at 6262 N. Harlem Av., and the Norwood Park Field House, 5801 N. Natoma Av., according to Chicago Police Chief of Detectives James Molloy. He also admitted to setting the garage of a private residence on fire at 7229 W. Palatine Ave. on Sunday.
The primary evidence against Jeffrey Boyle appears to be on videotape.
Police obtained a surveillance videotape from the school that shows a man walking outside the building where the fire was set in garbage bins. He was reportedly pacing back and forth at the scene on tape.
Another video captures Boyle allegedly setting a trash can fire at Brandys restaurant. It is said to include close-ups of his face.
I cant believe it, said owner George Pantazopoulus. That means that you dont know who you have to trust.
Trotter wanted to assure citizens that Boyle is not representative of Chicago firefighters.
"This is not the caliber of people that we have out on our engines and trucks and ambulances," Trotter said of Boyle. "We try hard every single day so that the people of the city know that we are truly dedicated to our jobs and we generally care about them."
Chicago Fire Fighters Union Local 2 President James McNally said he was shocked by the news, but noted "everyone has their day in court."
"These are only charges and we have to treat them as such," McNally said. "If there's an incident that would bring these charges on, then we take these things very seriously."
The veteran firefighter lives with his wife in their Northwest Side home. He has two grown children and worked as a lieutenant in several different West Side firehouses.
He adores his mother, said neighbor Norma Brubaker. The fires that are in the neighborhood are in her neighborhood.
She said its just too hard to believe.
And everything thats going on with his brother, he would always say, thats my brother. Thats not me, she said.
Jeffrey Boyle's first court appearance was scheduled for Friday, the prosecutor's office said.
A Park Ridge news release listed the following 10 locations of fires in Park Ridge for which Boyle is suspected:
--A detached garage at 300 Grant Pl. on May 27, 1998.
--A detached garage at 135 N. Washington Av. on May 27, 1998.
--New town homes under construction at 1002 Cedar St. on May 27, 1998.
--A detached garage at 235 Ridge Terrace on Aug. 20, 1998.
--The Park Ridge Country Club at 636 N. Prospect Av. on Jan. 9, 1999.
--A remodeling addition at 300 Grant Pl. on Aug. 13, 1999.
--A detached garage at 5 Gillick St. on July 9, 2000.
--A detached garage at 21 Gillick St. on July 9, 2000.
--A detached garage at 221 Lake Av. on July 29, 2000.
--A new home under construction at 231 Berry Pkwy. on March 11, 2001.
Did it look at you? Did the fire look at you? It did. Whoa. Wow. Our worlds aren't that far apart after all, are they? So, whoever is doing this knows that animal well, don't they? They know him real well, but they won't let him loose. They won't let him have any fun. Now who doesn't love fire? See... that wasn't such a long trip after all.
This is surprisingly common. The Chicago patronage angle is an interesting twist.
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