Chicago Police Officers Indicted on Bribery Charges
Inside Subprime: Sept 13, 2018
By Kerry Reid
The Chicago Police Department has been under scrutiny for years for a variety of issues. Most recently, the imminent trial of Officer Jason Van Dyke for the killing of Laquan McDonald has brought widespread attention to the CPD and its practices.
But smaller-scale allegations of criminal conduct also continue to be made against the department. As reported September 7 by Jason Meisner of the Chicago Tribune, two CPD officers have been indicted on federal charges alleging that they took kickbacks totaling more than $13,000 from an attorney referral service in exchange for “inside information” on victims involved in auto crashes.
The indictment involves two officers, along with Richard Burton, owner of the National Attorney Referral Service in suburban Bloomingdale.
According to the charges, between 2015 and 2017, the officers fed nonpublic contact information for victims of accidents from traffic reports to Burton. In turn, Burton used that information to help personal-injury attorneys who used his referral service.
As noted by the Tribune, this isn’t the first time CPD officers have faced charges of taking bribes for inside information. In 2012, a former officer was sentenced to 3 ½ years in federal prison for extorting bribes from a tow-truck operator who was secretly working for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Juan Prado received the longest sentence of those ensnared by “Operation Tow Scam.”
And in August, as noted by Vincent Caruso of Illinois Policy, Chicago police were widely criticized for using a “bait truck” to lure potential thieves. Caruso wrote that the tactic “had been highlighted by many as one method of policing that erodes trust between police officers and the communities they serve.”
According to the indictments against the officers, they collected $6,000 and $7,350 in kickbacks, respectively. Both have been stripped of their police powers while the case is pending, according to a CPD spokesperson. The charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery carry maximum sentences of ten years and five years, respectively.
But what should you do if you’ve been injured in a car accident and believe you do have a legitimate case for a personal injury lawsuit? Despite the widespread stereotypes of “ambulance chasers,” there are plenty of good attorneys in the field.
The American Bar Association has suggestions for where to start and what to look for if you’re hiring an attorney for any legal services. They also can direct you to state lawyer referral services. Your local bar association should also be able to provide information on attorneys in your area.
And if you feel that you’ve been targeted for extortion or other illegal actions from a law enforcement officer, you can contact your local police department to lodge a complaint. In Chicago, that office is the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
There are watchdog organizations you can contact if you don’t think the police department is taking the allegation seriously. In Illinois, one such organization is the Better Government Association.
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