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Fed raid on NIU focused on alleged abuse of criminal database system

Cardinal Roger Mahony arrives for vespers celebratiSt. Peter's BasilicVatican Wednesday March 6 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

Cardinal Roger Mahony arrives for a vespers celebration in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 6, 2013. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

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Updated: April 9, 2013 12:01PM

The police blotter . . .


Scoopsville: Sneed has learned that the federal raid on the Northern Illinois University campus police Wednesday was related to alleged abuse of their criminal database system.

“There are allegations someone was misusing their Law Enforcement Database System, which houses criminal history,” a top Sneed source said. “The feds removed computers and targeted the communications and dispatching areas.”

The surprise federal search warrant caught the police off guard when the feds and the Illinois State Police arrived at the DeKalb university — which has a 22,000 -student population — at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

In addition to the FBI and the state police, the raid also included inspectors from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Word is that the probe may center around low-income housing units near the university and the possible use of the database system to do background checks on prospective residents. A specific low-income apartment housing complex was named in the search warrant.

Stay tuned.

The CSU battle

The war waging over the presidency of embattled Chicago State University looks like it has come to an end.

At last peek Thursday, it looked like President Wayne Watson would retain his position on Friday because there are not enough votes on the board to oust him.

The papal trip . . .

Scratch rumors that Cardinal Francis George traveled first-class to Rome — in the midst of the Chicago Archdiocese closing Catholic schools because of lack of funding.

So let’s set the record straight.

◆ Ka-ching! The cardinal was accompanied by two people; two business-class tickets and one coach-class ticket were purchased, and British Air provided a private area for the cardinal to wait before the flight.

The papal enclave . . .

It’s a travesty.

Is it going to take a woman in the male-dominated Roman Catholic Church to get the fox out of the hen house?

Consider: Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, former head of the Catholic Lay Review Board, which probed the pedophile priest sex scandal, is shocked that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony is being permitted a seat in the papal conclave meeting in Rome to elect a new pope.

Branding Mahony the “ultimate obstructionist” in the clerical sex-abuse probe, Burke told Sneed: “Where is the moral compass when a man like Cardinal Mahony can hide the truth one day and expect to restart the church hierarchy the next day!”

She ought to know.

In an exclusive Sneed interview, Burke, the first woman to head the lay board mandated by the U.S. Conference of Bishops nearly a decade ago, permitted Sneed an exclusive peek at the paper trail of private documents stemming from the probe now housed at DePaul University.

“Cardinal Mahony threw every legal roadblock at us he could during our investigation,” she said. “How is he prepared to choose a new pope when he wasn’t prepared to deal with a sex scandal threatening the underpinnings of the church.”.

Mahony’s conclave attendance has infuriated his critics, who note that he and the L.A. Archdiocese were recently ordered by the federal district court to turn over thousands of pages from the personnel files of more than 120 priests accused of sexual abuses.

“It’s shocking it finally took the federal district court recently to order the archdiocese to turn over all the sex-abuse documents Cardinal Mahony refused to give us,” she said.

“The cardinal and his lawyers gave former FBI agent Kathleen McChesney, who once headed Chicago’s district FBI office, a hard time for hiring a secular university, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, to probe all the U.S. archdioceses,” she said.

“He only wanted a church-sanctioned institution in charge of the probe,” she said. “Isn’t that like letting the fox in the hen house?” .

“It was remarkable it finally took a federal directive to require him to be truthful and a federal court to require papers to be disclosed,” Burke added. “It has been at a tremendous cost to the church.”


Sneedlings . . .

Congrats to Justice Anne Burke and hubby, Ald. Ed Burke, on the birth of grandson Samuel Burke Murphy. Parents Jennifer and Jim are over the moon . . . Friday’s birthdays: Aidan Quinn, 54; Lester Holt, 54; Micky Dolenz, 68; Freddie Prinze Jr., 37; James Van Der Beek, 36; Camryn Manheim, 52, and Susan Clark, 63.

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