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Limo Driver Tried To Hit Alderman, Threatened Him With Snow Brush: Charges

By Alex Nitkin | July 10, 2017 6:13am
 Joseph Alvarez, 47, was charged with assault after authorities said he threatened 45th Ward Ald. John Arena with a windshield snow brush and tried to hit him with his limousine.
Joseph Alvarez, 47, was charged with assault after authorities said he threatened 45th Ward Ald. John Arena with a windshield snow brush and tried to hit him with his limousine.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox; Shutterstock; Chicago Police Department

CHICAGO — A limo driver was charged with assault after allegedly threatening 45th Ward Ald. John Arena with a windshield snow brush and trying to hit him with his limousine in the Irving Park neighborhood last month, officials said.

On June 29, Joseph Alvarez, 47, was parked along the Irving Park Road entrance ramp to the Kennedy Expy. when the alderman asked the driver to move and took a picture of his license plate, according to a police report obtained by DNAinfo.

Alvarez then "tried to run [Arena] over," according to the report.

Neighbors have complained since at least 2015 of limo and taxi drivers stopping on the side of the entrance ramp to beckon passengers, an "inherently dangerous practice," Arena told DNAinfo Friday.

"Their business model has been to try and entice passengers getting off the Metra station, drive down to the Addison exit and take them to Wrigley Field," Arena said. "But you can't see them parked there when you come around the curve. There's been a problem with backups, and we've had some accidents there."

Arena had been driving to an evening meeting when he noticed a line of vans and limos parked on the ramp, he said. He stopped and asked them to move, and they did — except for one, who "chose to become belligerent," Arena said.

"He started getting aggressive with me, using expletives, saying 'Who do you think you are?'" Arena said.

The driver got back into his car but didn't move, and Arena knocked on his window to "wave him on," he said.

"He got out, and he had a snow blade, and he walked toward me with this thing raised," Arena said. "I was like, 'Really? You're going to hit me with that?'"

The driver then returned to his car, Arena said. When the alderman went behind the limo to take a picture of its license plate, the driver shifted into reverse and hit the gas, he said.

"I jumped back, and he put it in drive and took off up the ramp," Arena said. "So that was the end of that instance."

But later that same evening, when Arena was returning from his meeting, he saw the same cars parked on the ramp, he said. He again asked them to leave, and again Alvarez refused.

"I told him, 'OK, this is going to be a bad day for you,'" Arena said.

Arena called the commander of the Albany Park Police District, and officers came to arrest the man.

Officers found a "cut straw" inside Alvarez's car that's often "used by individuals to ingest cocaine," according to the police report.

The illegal parking practice has abated somewhat since officers have begun regularly stopping and ticketing drivers, Arena said. The alderman also hopes to report some of the scofflaw livery services to the city's Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection, he added.

"It's one thing just to issue a $200 ticket, but if we can start talking about revoking their licenses, hopefully that will put some teeth in our enforcement," he said. "This is a condition that's inherently dangerous to life and property, and we need to get to a place where it's clear that it's not tolerated."

Alvarez, of the 700 block of North Dearborn Street, was charged with assault, unlawful parking and possession of drug paraphernalia, according to arrest records. His bond was set at $1,500, and he is due to reappear in court on July 24.