CHICAGO — The Latest on the tossing of felony drug convictions of 15 black men who were framed by corrupt Chicago police officers. (all times local):
Seven Chicago police officers connected to a corrupt sergeant who shook down drug dealers have been placed on desk duty as their conduct is investigated.
The action came hours after a Cook County judge threw out the felony drug convictions of 15 black men who all say they were locked up for no other reason except that they refused to pay the officers’ leader, former Sgt. Ronald Watts.
When asked earlier about the status of the officers tied to Watts, Superintendent Eddie Johnson noted none had been convicted of a crime and their jobs couldn’t be taken from them arbitrarily.
Police Board chairwoman Lori Lightfoot dismissed Johnson’s stance. She said any of the officers remaining on the job “must be quickly brought to justice through criminal prosecution and/or disciplinary action.”
Watts and another officer pleaded guilty to stealing money from an FBI informant. Watts served 22 months in prison.
A judge in Chicago has thrown out the convictions of 15 men who say a corrupt Chicago police sergeant manufactured evidence that sent them to prison.
Cook County prosecutors made the request Thursday as 10 of the men stood before Judge Leroy Martin Jr.
It was the latest chapter in a scandal that resulted in former Sgt. Ronald Watts’ 2013 conviction for extorting money from drug dealers. State’s attorney spokesman Robert Foley says the office’s conviction-integrity unit is looking into dozens of other cases and identified a pattern suggesting “corrupt activity” involving Watts and “members of his crew.”
Joshua Tepfer of the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project says he is “extraordinarily grateful” to the state’s attorney’s office.