Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine


  Office phone numbers:  

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.


The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

Body buried in bureaucracy?

Monday, September 11, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter

Michael Ruggio Jr. died of a drug overdose in a portable toilet in 2002, and the county buried him in a pauper's grave. But it was not until this year that Ruggio's family learned of his fate.
His sister Vanessa Baker is upset at police for failing to track down her family with the news of his death. She also says she called the Cook County medical examiner's office about once a month for nearly four years checking to see if her brother was dead, but no one would confirm his death until February.

Worse, Ruggio's teenage son lost out on Social Security benefits because the death was not reported to the government in a timely fashion, Baker said.

And Homewood Memorial Gardens says it cannot rebury her brother for less than $6,000, she said.

"He should be in Mount Carmel Cemetery with the rest of our family," Baker said. "Nobody is taking responsibility for this. It's disgraceful."

Ruggio was 33 when he was found in the 1900 block of North Burling. He was wearing inline skates, and hypodermic needles were discovered near his body. The death certificate says he died of opiate and cocaine intoxication May 11, 2002.

Met with negative results'

Ruggio was carrying an ID card listing his name, his date of birth and an address: 14127 S. Leavitt in south suburban Dixmoor.

Chicago Police spokesman Pat Camden said detectives contacted Dixmoor police for help in seeking information about Ruggio's next of kin. The address was for the Jessie "Ma" Houston Work Release Center, where Ruggio had served a drug conviction.

"Dixmoor PD went to the location and met with negative results," Camden said. "They could not identify the next of kin. At that point, it became a public administrator's case."
Baker filed a complaint with the Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards, accusing the detectives of not doing enough to try to contact Ruggio's family. On Aug. 24, OPS sent Baker a letter telling her "the evidence was not sufficient to prove or disprove the allegation."

The Sun-Times recently performed a database search using Ruggio's name and the date of birth on the ID found on his body. The search quickly identified the address and phone number for Ruggio's parents in west suburban Lombard, as well as other relatives.
Baker said she tried to file a missing persons report with the police, "but they said he is an adult, and if he doesn't want to be found, he doesn't have to be."

"They never seem to have a problem finding people when they need to arrest them," she said.

Baker said she called the medical examiner's office in early 2002 when her brother stopped making weekly calls to his mother. She said she told the people answering the phone his name, age and the fact that he had a scar on his forearm.

"No, he hasn't been through here. No one by that description has been in," Baker says she was told repeatedly.

Then in February, she called again.

"I gave them my speech that I gave every month, and the guy goes on hold a minute, then says, 'Yeah, he was here, May 11, '02, and the county buried him in September '02.' I said, 'What?' I called my dad, and he lost it."

Baker flew in from New Jersey and accompanied her father to the medical examiner's office Feb. 7.

Baker said they waited about three hours, with her father crying hysterically, before they were able to fill out paperwork to obtain Ruggio's possessions. They were required to pay $5 each for a series of photos the office took of Ruggio, she said.

Became addicted to drugs

Mike Boehmer, administrative assistant to Medical Examiner Edmund R. Donoghue Jr., said he apologized to Baker when she called to complain.

"She said she called on more than one occasion and they said they did not have him here," Boehmer said. While not dismissing her concerns, he added, "I find it very hard to believe that anyone would have called on more than one occasion and not get the information. His information was here."

Baker said she and her older brother were close when they were growing up. He attended York Community High School and played baseball, she said.

Baker went on to study at the College of DuPage and became an accountant. She married a lawyer and moved to New Jersey, where she and her husband have a son they named after her late brother.

But Michael Ruggio Jr. got involved with the wrong crowd. He did not go to college, instead installing windshields for a living. Eventually, he became a drug-addicted transient with dozens of arrests on his record.

"He was in and out of jail," Baker said. "Living here or there. But he never lost contact with us. I would tell him it's never too late to change your life. I think he became embarrassed about what he had become."

Ruggio was survived by a son who is now 16. The son is entitled to about $150 a month in death benefits -- but only since February, when the family learned of Ruggio's death and reported it to the government, Baker said.

"I think he should have received benefits dating back to the day my brother died," she said. "It wasn't our fault we didn't know he was dead."

Baker said her brother was buried in a common grave in Homewood Memorial Gardens. A representative of the cemetery did not return a call seeking comment.

Baker said she was told her family would have to pay about $6,000 to move the body to another cemetery.

"The funeral home said it's not a good idea because he's been in there for four years in a cheap box that's hard to move," she said.

Baker said she is inclined to leave her older brother resting where he is -- even if the family does not find the spot peaceful.

"This was a mess, from beginning to end," Baker said angrily. "To everyone, my brother was just a junkie. But we loved him."

Recent Headlines

Chicago health system to add 240+ jobs
Monday, October 15, 2018
Becker's Hospital Review

Village of Northbrook Opts Back In to the Cook County Earned Sick Leave Ordinance
Monday, October 15, 2018
National Law Review

Fired doctor sues county, loses whistleblower claim
Friday, October 12, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County health system to add jobs
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

No layoffs or tax hike in mayoral hopeful Preckwinkle’s proposed county budget
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

'Inclusionary' housing ordinance rewrite advances
Thursday, October 11, 2018
Evanston Now

Faced with tight budgets, more Illinois counties merge clerk, recorder offices
Monday, October 08, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Class action: Hundreds of Cook Sheriff officer suspensions invalid, because State's Attorney not involved
Friday, October 05, 2018
Cook County Record

One Cook County judge bucks chief judge’s order against unaffordably high bail
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Game of thrones? Watchdog sees ‘scheme to defraud’ in Pritzker toilet tax break
Monday, October 01, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

County Board approves $31M election equipment contract despite lawsuit; $11M to settle 2 malpractice lawsuits
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Tribune

County approves new election equipment contract, despite rival firm’s lawsuit
Wednesday, September 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.