In May 2006, Melongo was bogusly charged and arrested for computer tampering and eavesdropping without consent - the former accusation based solely on Save-A-Life Foundation (SALF) founder, Carol Spizzirri, a woman exposed as a liar. More about her and SALF below.
Melongo justifiably claims she was framed "to cover up SALF's longstanding relationships with powerful political cronies and funders." Originally indicted on January 17, 2007, she was re-indicted on May 28, 2008 on two alleged charges for:
(1) Eavesdropping without consent:
"in that she knowingly and intentionally used an eavesdropping device, to wit: an audio recording device, for the purpose of recording a conversation, to wit: recording a conversation conducted by telephone between Annabel K. Melongo and Pamela Taylor of the Cook County Court Reporter's Office, and without the consent of all parties to such conversation and without authorization provided by Article 108A or Article 108B of the 'Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963,' approved August 13, 1963, as amended."
(2) Computer tampering:
"in that she knowingly and without the authorization of the computer's owner, accessed or caused to be accessed a computer program or date, and deleted a computer program or data, with the intent to commit an offense established under the Illinois computer crime law (720 ILCS 5/16D), to wit: that on or about April 28, 2006 Annabel Melongo accessed Safe A Life Foundation, Inc.'s (NFP) computer data server located in Schiller Park, Illinois and permanently deleted, removed and altered hundreds of computer files critical to Save A Life Foundation Inc.'s (NFP) operations. These acts were done without the authorization, knowledge or consent of the computer's owner."
Her trial date is set for January 12, addressing the eavesdropping charges only. A second trial may or may not follow on computer tampering, depending on if prosecutors wish to pursue it. Proving it is much harder.
Yet Annabel Melongo is innocent, despite having recorded a conversation to retain for her defense. As a result, charges against her are spurious. She willfully committed no crimes.
Besides covering up SALF wrongdoing, at issue is protecting powerful insiders, perhaps complicit in corruption and kickback schemes. Since the 19th century, it's been commonplace in Illinois and Chicago because of lax enforcement or one hand greasing another. For every offender caught, dozens go unprosecuted. The tradition continues today, discussed in one section of a detailed article on Chicago, accessed through the following link:
It's why former Chicago alderman Paddy Bauler said "Chicago ain't ready for reform," not in his day or now.
Despite her innocence, Melongo is being held without probable cause, initially on $500,000 bail, reduced to $300,000, an amount high enough to keep her jailed until tried.
Background on Melongo, SALF and Spizzirri
A Cameroon-born computer professional, Melongo worked in Chicago since 2003, and in 2006 for SALF, an NGO chartered to teach public school children first aid.
Foundered in 1993, it was a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) member organization, receiving nearly $9 million in federal and state funding. Yet to date, no definitive accounting explains where it went, suggesting willful criminal fraud.
In fact, since November 2006, news reports raised serious concerns about SALF's true activities and finances. Melongo's charges were entirely based on SALF founder/president Carol J. Spizzirri's claims, whose history is tainted with gross fabrications, including:
-- falsely claiming nurse credentials;
-- saying she was a renal transplant Milwaukee hospital nurse; and
-- that she earned a (now defunct) Wisconsin college BSN degree, the school's name misspelled on her resume.
According to a recent sworn affidavit, a Milwaukee court-ordered psychologist, Dr. Burton S. Silberglitt, in 1985, diagnosed her as "paranoid schizophrenic and a pathological liar."
In October 2009 before he died, Jerry Bracey, a leading progressive expert on education, reported her conviction on shoplifting charges and that one of her daughters filed a protective order against her, alleging abuse. The same daughter died in a 1992 car accident. More about it below.
Nonetheless, based on her claim, and despite her history of lying, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez indicted Melongo spuriously, in gross violation of the law and her constitutional rights.
Evidence suggests they conspired to conceal SALF's longstanding relationships with powerful cronies and funders. Among them - Madigan, her father Mike Madigan, long-time Illinois House Speaker and Chairman of Illinois' Democrat party.
Spizzirri said her daughter's death inspired her to found SALF to help others save lives by offering emergency technique responses. Her daughter died of severe head injuries and a nearly-severed left arm, but Spizzirri's account was fabricated. More on it below.
On October 11, 2009, Chicago Tribune writer Lisa Black headlined, "Save-A-Life Foundation in Limbo," saying:
It gave first aid instructions to an "estimate(d) 2 million children....many of them (in) the Chicago Public Schools. Her supporters in the 1990s included Gov. Jim Edgar, then-US Rep. Dick Durbin," Rep. Jan Schakowsky, and former IL Senate President Emil Jones, among other notable public and private figures. "She appeared on "Inside Edition" and helped push through a state law in 1994 that requires police and firefighters be trained to provide first aid."
However, company records show SALF at most trained dozens of school children, not millions, yet she profited hugely at public expense (state and federal). When her scam began unravelling, she "quietly closed the foundation's" Schiller Park, IL headquarters, and in mid-October 2009 filed official dissolution paperwork with the state. "The organization, which once had 13 national branches and planned to go international, no longer receives public funding and is 'in hibernation' until the economy improves...." SALF, in fact, went bankrupt.
"City school officials did not respond to inquiries about how many students received emergency training," an indication of how few were helped and more evidence of a scam. Spizzirri got away with it for years because powerful insiders backed her, letting her freely steal public money.
ABC TV News Reporter Exposes SALF and Spizzirri
Spizzirri was unchallenged from 1993 until November 2006 when Chicago ABC TV reporter Chuck Goudie exposed her, one of several stories saying:
"Spizzirri's often-told account of her daughter's death due to inadequate first aid" is disputed by official records. (SALF) promotes itself with a cartoon character of (then) Schools' CEO Arnie Duncan (now Obama's Education Secretary), who acts as an animated pitchman," saying:
"Hi, friend, I'm Arne Duncan....Ask your school teacher today if the 'SALF-Town' heros can visit you!"
Duncan also was quoted, saying:
"Carol is one of my heros. I really appreciate the partnership."
Why did a public figure promote a private enterprise, especially a scam like SALF? Were political or personal gain motives involved? He's yet to explain, so at issue is what he may have to hide. If nothing, say so and explain fully. SALF is an open wound, involving million of dollars in fraud. Moreover, Spizzirri's alleged credentials are bogus.
The now defunct Wisconsin college denied awarding her any degree, "and government records show she has never been registered as a nurse in either Wisconsin (as she claimed) or in Illinois. Officials at the Milwaukee hospital where she claims to have been a transplant nurse say she had a paid job for a couple of years, as a patient care assistant akin to a candy striper."
Dr. Robert Baratz, President of the National Council Against Health Fraud, asked "how can (anyone) believe anything she says" based on what's now known.
Spizzirri said her volunteer-staffed program was free to children. Goudie reported that "it wasn't free to the Chicago Public Schools, where officials (said SALF) charged them $50,000 the past two years," plus other amounts earlier.
Yet SALF got millions, Baratz saying:
"If you have an organization that has mostly volunteers," where'd the money go? "It doesn't take (millions) to print a pamphlet."
SALF records showed Spizzirri's annual salary was $120,000. She also traveled "on a generous expense account while working to obtain additional government funding for expansion of her organization nationally."
She pitched potential donors, saying:
"My daughter was coming home from work on Labor Day of '92. She was struck by a hit-and-run, and her arm had been severely injured, and she bled to death before EMS arrived."
False, according to police and hospital records as well as a Lake County coroner inquest. "The official record states that 18-year-old Christina Spizzirri was legally drunk at the time of the accident; and that after hosting a drinking party while her mother was vacationing in Florida, the teenager got behind the wheel and flipped her own car."
Police records confirm no hit-and-run, and Christina didn't bleed to death at the scene. In fact, she "died 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital." Her mother, Carol, lied, yet she stuck to her original story during Goudi's on-air interview, saying: "I got proof" it was a hit-and-run, "absolutely....I'm done, the interview's over," how scoundrels caught red-handed usually react.
In a November 2006 press release, shortly before shutting down, SALF said it:
"stands by its excellent reputation as a provider of first aid skills training and a good steward of the monies entrusted to us by taxpayers and private donors. (For over 10 years, SALF) carefully documented its training of hundreds of thousands of children K through 12, with many accounts of individual lives saved as a result."
It was a bald-faced lie, concealing a scam to rip off millions of dollars in public and private donations. Yet whistleblower Annabel Melongo, not Spizzirri, is being prosecuted.
SALF's Backers and Funders
American Thinker.com writer Lee Cary contributed much information on SALF and Spizzirri, including her powerful backers, some "big political fish," he called them, including:
-- then Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan who authorized over $60,000 to teach city school children first aid and promoted SALF, even though few ever were taught;
-- suburban Chicago-based McDonald's Corporation contributing $185,000;
-- Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D. IL) sponsoring a congressional FY 2009 earmark, "long after (SALF was) thoroughly discredited;"
-- former IL Senate President Emil Jones's public backing, then disavowing any association with SALF; and
-- former US Senator Norm Coleman (R. MN) sponsoring S. 2533: State Secrets Protection Act (never enacted) that would have earmarked millions more dollars for SALF.
Cary called it "a short list of (Spizzirri's) political connections (she used to access) multiple money rivers flowing through state and federal agencies," that, in fact, were funding a scam.
Spizzirri was also politically connected to Rep. John Shimkus (R. IL), Senator Mark Kirk (R. IL), and Senator Tim Johnson (D. South Dakota), among others, as well as having some association with Senator John McCain (R. AZ), Rudi Giuliani (former New York mayor), and likely other Obama administration officials based on her known White House visits.
Federal agencies funding SALF included:
-- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and
-- Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
State agencies included:
-- the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH);
-- Illinois Department of Commerce & Community Affairs (IDCCA); and
-- Office of the Attorney General of the State of Illinois.
Courtesy of then CEO Arne Duncan, Chicago Public Schools also contributed generously, besides other corporations and private donors.
Douglas R. Browne was on SALF's board of directors, identified as organization treasurer from January 1, 2004 - September 17, 2009. In fact, he was CDC Deputy Director during at least part of the time when the agency provided $3,335,578 to SALF. Where'd it go and why did SALF pay him $40,000 when he already worked for CDC? Clearly, it suggests impropriety.
SALF also claimed to operate a multi-state National Guard training program, listing 29 states in its 2008 annual report. However, a May 6, 2009 Office of the Chief Counsel, National Guard Bureau letter said:
A "search for responsive documents by knowledgeable staff....failed to locate any records that would" verify such a program.
As a result, no definitive accounting explains where millions of dollars went. Though innocent, Annabel Melongo is in jail, facing criminal prosecution unjustifiably.
Meanwhile, Carol Spizzirri began lobbying Illinois state legislators for a new venture against online stalking, claiming SALF was victimized by "tortious interference." Legally, it's defined as wrongfully interfering or "intentionally intermeddling with the business affairs of others" with intent to commit harm.
At the same time, local TV and print media outlets dropped the story. Influential pressure likely got them to back off, leaving Melongo hung out to dry against State Attorney General Madigan and Cook County Prosecutor Alvarez, determined to convict an innocent women for trying to expose a scam.
A Final Comment
Sworn Affidavit Against Spizzirri
Affidavits are sworn before an officer with authority to administer an oath, like a notary public. Persons signing them (affiants) take an oath that submitted facts are totally accurate to the best of their knowledge. Swearing otherwise may result in perjury charges.
On February 24, 1968, Gordon Thomas Pratt married Jean Niemann, now known as Carol J. Spizzirri. On October 13, 1980, Pratt petitioned the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, Family Court Branch for a divorce. On November 5, 1981, it was granted.
"On or about March 15, 1982, (Spizzirri) hand-delivered (Pratt) a handwritten letter from her in which she threatened to kill our three children and herself if (Pratt) did not take her back."
A certified copy of the letter was enclosed and admitted as evidence on December 26, 1984 in Milwaukee Circuit Court Case No. 656244. After review, Judge Leander J. Foley, Jr. ordered Spizzirri to undergo psychological evaluation by a court-appointed therapist.
As explained above, Dr. Burton S. Silberglitt diagnosed her as "paranoid schizophrenic and a pathological liar." He also called her a chronic child abuser, needing at least five years of outpatient psychiatric treatment.
As an unfit, unstable, dangerous wife and mother, she was profoundly unqualified to be involved in teaching young school children anything, and never should have been allowed to do so.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.