Last Friday, a 47-year-old Chicago cop was sentenced to 18 months in prison after being convicted for ripping off $5,200 in cash that he believed belonged to a drug dealer. The homeless man the officer stole the money from last November 21 was actually an FBI informant. Another officer involved in the scheme was, according to the recently convicted officer, the brains behind the operation.
In his hearing last Friday, the former tactical officer apologized for the crime, but explained that it was done under the direction of his sergeant, who wouldn’t give him leave to visit his children in Ohio unless he went along with the scheme. He did acknowledge, though, that he could have left the unit.
In her comments, the judge noted that the residents of the Bronzeville housing projects, where the crime was committed, would have seen that he and other Chicago cops were working with drug dealers. Although the judge expressed her frustration with the former officer over the bad example he set, the 18-month sentence she gave him was below the 24-30 month sentencing guidelines. In his favor, the judge noted, were the support of his family and his lack of prior convictions.
The other officer, the one accused of arranging the scheme, has yet to go to trial on his charges.
Those charged with criminal offenses, particularly drug crimes, need to realize that officers are not infallible. They do make mistakes, and do act illegally on occasion. In prosecuting criminal offenses, prosecuting attorneys rely heavily on reports and information provided by police officers. The two groups work hand in hand.
Even where police work is done honestly, it isn’t always done accurately. And so it is important for defendants to build a strong case to protect their rights.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, “Crooked cop gets 18 months; says he ripped off drug dealers so he could see his kids,” Kim Janssen, October 26, 2012