Robbins official, wife settled dispute on ‘Judge Alex’
BY CASEY TONER email@example.com November 22, 2013 10:46PM
Starting Friday, four Cook County sheriff’s police officers and a sergeant will be working the streets of Robbins at all times, a sheriff’s department official said.
Cara Smith, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart’s chief of communication and policy, announced the change and said Robbins officials didn’t respond to Dart’s earlier plan to take over the village’s troubled police department. She called the department’s staffing “less than skeletal.”
“It is significantly expanding our presence and I think we would be better knowing there is more support in that community than they previously have had,” Smith said.
During an earlier interview with the SouthtownStar, Jaco said the sheriff’s police is “not there to be my friend, for sure.”
Updated: December 25, 2013 6:03AM
Judge Wapner would be proud.
A legal squabble between two Southland cops over the bill for a $6,190 diamond engagement ring turned into a made-for-TV spectacle recently when the two officers turned to a reality show judge and his wisecracking bailiff to settle their dispute.
The case pitted Loren Beres against Hashi Jaco, both former members of the Phoenix Police Department, on national television. The two had been arguing over who would pay for Jaco’s fiancee’s ring, taking the dispute to small claims court in Cook County before going before the cameras on the “Judge Alex” program.
“People in your department right now are rolling in the squad room,” Judge Alex Ferrer told the two officers on the show, comparing the scenario to the old police comedy “Barney Miller.” “They are laughing their heads off.”
Jaco now is the acting police chief in Robbins where he was among a new administrative team brought in by Mayor Tyrone Ward in August to reform that village’s embattled police force.
In January, Cook County sheriff’s police had discovered about 200 untested rape kits dating to 1986 in the Robbins police evidence room. The former police chief, Johnny Holmes, resigned that month after getting charged with his second drunken driving charge in three years.
Jaco was hired as deputy chief but was appointed as acting chief this past week after Chief Mel Davis, a former police chief in Phoenix, was sacked amid an investigation into an internal affairs officer’s questionable police credentials.
Taking the case to TV
Beres, a police sergeant when he and Jaco worked together in Phoenix, filed a small-claims lawsuit against Jaco in March in Cook County Circuit Court. He contended that Jaco and his fiancee, Quanda, now his wife, had asked Beres to buy an engagement ring for them by using his credit. He was promised reimbursement as well as monthly payments but was never paid, Beres’ suit says.
Beres and the Jacos then decided to settle the matter by appearing on “Judge Alex” in April, with the judge ruling that the couple owed Beres the money.
While Beres said he and Jaco became friends during their three years together in Phoenix, he was less than flattering about Quanda Jaco during their TV appearance.
“You know, you throw a pole out in the sea, you pick up a fish, you never know what you’re going to get,” Beres said sarcastically. “Woo boy, he got a good one.”
Quanda Jaco referred to Beres as a “freaking pathetic idiot.”
“He’s crazy,” she said on the show. “That’s as nice as I can be.”
Beres told Ferrer that Jaco approached him in March 2012 about co-signing for his engagement ring.
“I said, ‘You know Jaco, I gotta tell you, you know as well as I do when money gets involved in a situation, friendship goes right out the window,” Beres said. “He says, ‘Beres, that’s never going to happen.’”
Jaco said on the show that he thought Beres offered to pay for the ring during an impromptu wedding photo when he looked at Quanda Jaco’s ring and said, “‘I got this.’”
Ferrer was incredulous.
“You took that to mean ‘I am going to pay the thousands of dollars for the engagement ring for the woman I hate?’” Ferrer said. “It could mean anything.”
After hearing the arguments, Ferrer decided that the Jacos owed Beres.
Reached for comment, Quanda Jaco said the “show is all you have to see,” before hanging up.
Beres said Ferrer’s ruling was television puffery. He said the show had agreed to pay him back for the cost of the ring, but only if Ferrer ruled in his favor.
Jaco told the SouthtownStar that it was “just a misunderstanding” that Beres was charged for his wife’s ring.
“It’s not a crime to get paid to go on TV,” Jaco said. “If anybody invites you to do a TV spot for a reality show, it won’t be reality.”
New controversy is a reality
Meanwhile, Jaco finds himself embroiled in a controversy over the hiring of Douglas J. Smith as the part-time internal affairs officer in Robbins. The now former chief, Davis, said Jaco this summer recommended that he hire Smith, who presented an impressive resume.
But Smith quit this week after the SouthtownStar disclosed that investigators with Illinois’ police training agency were unable to verify his credentials and threatened him with criminal charges of impersonating a police officer and unlawful use of weapons if he didn’t resign.
Authorities in Los Angeles, New Jersey and Georgia, where Smith claimed to have worked in law enforcement, told investigators for the state training board that their records did not indicate that Smith had ever worked for them, according to documents obtained by the SouthtownStar.
Those documents also show that Smith submitted to investigators as proof of his past employment with the Los Angeles Police Department a photocopy of an LAPD badge bearing the number 714 — the badge number of the fictional character Sgt. Joe Friday from the old TV show, “Dragnet.