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Friday, September 5, 2008

Corrupt Oak Lawn cop gets probation

The South Town Star By KIM JANSSEN - September 3, 2008 (

A corrupt Oak Lawn cop who shook down immigrant motorists for cash will avoid prison after pleading guilty to official misconduct. Steven Harrison, 26, faced up to five years in prison for soliciting bribes of up to $250 from as many as 14 Hispanic motorists during illegal traffic stops last fall. Following his arrest, he fell further into disgrace. While free on bail in June, he was arrested at a West Side el station with 10 packets of heroin in his pocket.

Under a plea deal reached with prosecutors Tuesday at the Cook County Criminal Court, Judge Rosemary Higgins sentenced Harrison, who lives in Chicago's Mount Greenwood community, to two years of intensive probation and 20 days in the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program. In return for Harrison's guilty plea to one count of official misconduct and possession of a controlled substance, more than 20 additional counts of official misconduct, intimidation and theft were dropped. Under terms of his probation, Harrison must undergo treatment for his heroin addiction. Oak Lawn police Chief Bob Troy fired the rookie cop in the wake of the scandal. Harrison's arrest prompted outrage when it emerged he had threatened workers at an Alsip business park with imprisonment if they did not hand him cash bribes. He allegedly told them "This is how we do things in the suburbs."

Fellow officers discovered damning evidence in his locker after Advertising Resources Inc. owner Richard Ehrie, who employs several of Harrison's victims, raised the alarm. Receipts Harrison had handed his victims matched missing pages in a ticket book, investigators said. Harrison's attorney Brian Bennett could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Immigrant rights campaigner Jorge Mujica, of the March 10 committee, described Harrison's sentence as "absurd." "Being addicted to heroin isn't an excuse - if I had been shaking down people in the street for cash, I would be in prison right now," he said. "But there seems to be another set of rules for people in law enforcement." Cook County state's attorney's spokesman Andy Conklin declined to comment on Harrison's plea deal. Kim Janssen can be reached at or on (708) 633-5998.

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