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Police investigate whether Chicago Ald. Moreno filed false police report after car he said was stolen found with woman he dated

Chicago Tribune

Thursday, February 7, 2019  |  Article  |  Elyssa CherneyContact Reporter

Chicago police are investigating whether Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno filed a false report last month when he told police his car was stolen from his Wicker Park home, authorities said Tuesday.

Moreno, 1st, reported to police on Jan. 4 that he returned home from a trip to find that the vehicle, a leased black 2016 Audi A6 sedan, was missing from his property and that no one else had access to the vehicle, police said.

Police located the car early Monday when they saw a woman driving it and initially charged her with misdemeanor trespass to a motor vehicle, authorities confirmed. But the woman, 35-year-old Liliya Hrabar, told the Tribune on Tuesday that Moreno, whom she said she dates on and off, let her use the car.

Cook County prosecutors dropped the charge against Hrabar on Tuesday, the state’s attorney’s office confirmed, and police opened an investigation into the possibility of a false report.

Moreno, who is facing a challenge for his City Council seat from political newcomer Daniel La Spata in the Feb. 26 municipal election, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon. He told WGN-Ch. 9 on Monday that the situation was a “misunderstanding,” saying he lent the car to a friend he had dated and filed a police report after being unable to reach her.

Hrabar told the Tribune in a phone interview Tuesday that she was in shock when police pulled her over and said she was driving a stolen vehicle. She said Moreno allowed her to use the car because hers was ruined in a crash months before.

“I still don’t understand what’s going on, so that’s why I am going to meet with (Moreno) tomorrow,” said Hrabar, an insurance agent.

A police report said the car was pulled over because its headlights were off.

She said she and Moreno met in September through mutual friends and started dating but that she hadn’t seen him since early January because he was busy with the election campaign. She said he gave her his car Jan. 3 — a day before he filed the police report.

“Joe doesn’t do anything bad to me,” she said. “We date on and off. … I will never say a bad word about Joe.”

Moreno was appointed to the City Council in 2010 by then-Mayor Richard M. Daley and elected the following year by a wide margin.

The new investigation into Moreno marks the second time he’s found himself in the center of a police probe this election season.

Last June, police opened an investigation into whether Moreno impersonated a police officer during a parking dispute in the Lakeview neighborhood. Moreno said he showed a motorist his City Council badge and asked her to move her car because she was parked in a bike lane but did not tell her he was an officer.

Moreno was driving a black Audi when he approached the woman, who had just pulled into a parking spot, and told her to move, according to a police report.

He then told her: “You better pay your parking tickets! This is how we do it in Chicago,” according to a police report.

Anthony Guglielmi, chief spokesman for the Police Department, said Tuesday that detectives closed that investigation after finding “no criminal wrongdoing or police impersonation when he displayed his aldermanic credentials during a parking dispute.”

Moreno’s opponent cited the previous investigation, as well the current one, in renewing his call for Moreno to resign “before the next scandal hits.”

“We deserve an alderman with integrity that spends their time focusing on making housing affordable and improving our schools rather than one that makes headlines explaining his personal problems,” La Spata said.

echerney@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @ElyssaCherney