For Marine's sendoff, his car is keyed By John Kass http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chi-kass_03jan03,0,5792645,full.column Marine Sgt. Michael McNulty -- now on his way to Iraq for his second tour of duty in the war -- took meticulous care of his car. It is a black two-door BMW, an expensive ride for a young Marine from Chicago, but then, McNulty didn't exactly join up for the big paycheck and luxury vacations. The 26-year-old McNulty was a trader at the exchange and enlisted in the Reserves after 9/11. He babied his car so much that he had military vanity plates along with a sticker in his window that let people know that a Marine or a Marine supporter drove that car But someone didn't like the Marine sticker, or the pro-military plates, and decided to stage an anti-war protest, with a key or hard piece of metal, on the shiny black finish of Sgt. McNulty's car that caused $2,400 in damage. "It's a really nice car. It's in perfect condition. He keeps it meticulous. And he was going to sell it," said Sgt. McNulty's friend, Tom Sullivan, a college buddy from Loyola University. The last time Sgt. McNulty was in Iraq, he worked a .50-caliber machine gun from a Humvee. Now that he's going back, he really doesn't need a shiny black BMW that shows dust. "There wasn't a scratch on his car," Sullivan said. But there is one now. It is a big scratch, a particularly long scratch in that black paint, a scratch stretching from the rear driver's side around the back, across the trunk, then up to the passenger's side. If you have a car, and parked it on the street, surely you've thought about what an angry key could do to it. According to the Cook County state's attorney's office, it wasn't an accident, but a deliberate key job, not done by some kid or street thug, but by a Chicago lawyer who apparently can't stand the military. Private attorney Jay R. Grodner, 55, of Chicago has been charged with a class A misdemeanor -- criminal damage to property -- punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine, said Andy Conklin, spokesman for the state's attorney's office. Late Wednesday, I reached Sgt. McNulty, who declined to comment for the paper but confirmed the facts in the police report. And I wanted to get Grodner's side of it because he's been accused but not convicted of anything. So we called all the Grodner numbers we could find -- home and business -- including those on the police report and others in the suburbs and Chicago. Many were disconnected, and his cell phone voice mail was full. I'd like to ask him two questions: Why? And, are you proud? "McNulty was just coming to pick me up for breakfast, because he was going to training just before deployment," Sullivan said of that morning on Dec. 1 in Rogers Park. There are several one-way streets near Sullivan's home, but McNulty missed the turn, and rather than drive two or three blocks around, he put the car in reverse and backed up a hundred or so feet. He pulled up in front of his friend's house, rang the bell and Sullivan came downstairs. McNulty then turned around and saw Grodner's hands on his black car. "Mike says, 'Hey, what are you doing to my car? Open up your hand!'" Sullivan told us. "And [Grodner] goes, '[Blank] you! Just because you're in the military you don't run the roost!'" There were allegedly many more epithets and cuss words, some allegedly applied to the United States Marine Corps, to the U.S. armed forces and to Sgt. McNulty himself. "Quite frankly, you don't even look like a soldier. You're a small little [blank]," Grodner said according to Sullivan. This last bit really bothers William McNulty, who is Sgt. McNulty's brother, and he called me. "My brother should be commended for not just smashing that guy's windpipe right there for all the stuff he said about our military, and the insults," William McNulty said. "Instead, my brother called the police, as he should have." According to the police report I read, other investigative accounts and interviews, Grodner was upset to have been accused of purposely scratching the car. So upset, that he accused his accusers of being anti-Semitic. The Chicago police officer responding to the call didn't take the accusation seriously, according to the report, because he couldn't justify it. And Sgt. McNulty's brother and Sullivan say it is outrageous and nonsensical. "The officer wasn't going to hear this kind of talk. He put the kibosh on the whole thing," Sullivan said. "So [Grodner] became apologetic." According to the police report, "The offender denied scratching the victim's vehicle, but did admit to rubbing past it." Rubbing past it? I guess it all depends on what the definition of "rubbing" is. That's where it is now, awaiting another court date, set for Jan. 18, after Sgt. McNulty refused to back off and drop the charges in earlier court appearances. Lawyers know how to drag things out, with continuance after continuance, stalling until complaining witnesses get tired and move on. But Marines on their way to war don't seek continuances. And all Sgt. McNulty wanted was a little respect, and the chance to sell that car of his, without a scratch. ... I have no words to express how appalled I am by this whole thing. This is the kind of scum that makes up the dregs of society.