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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Former Cop Admits Role in Robberies

Former Chicago cop admits role in robberies
The Chicago Tribune by Ryan Haggerty - April 19, 2011

A former Chicago police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal felony charges stemming from one of the worst misconduct scandals in the department's history. Keith Herrera, 33, admitted taking part in three robberies in which he and other officers with the elite Special Operations Section stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from suspected drug dealers and other citizens after making illegal traffic stops or searches of their homes. Herrera, who remains free on bond until his scheduled sentencing on July 14, faces up to 13 years in prison, but prosecutors said in a plea agreement that if Herrera continues to cooperate, they will recommend a reduced prison sentence. Herrera pleaded guilty to civil rights and tax-related charges and admitted he pocketed about $40,000 from the robberies in 2005. He admitted he never reported the money as income on his federal tax return for that year. Herrera later secretly wore a wire, recording then-Officer Jerome Finnegan, identified by authorities as the scheme's ringleader, allegedly plotting the murder of a Special Operations Section officer whom he suspected of cooperating with authorities. Herrera, Finnegan, former Officer Stephen Del Bosque and current Officer Eric J. Olsen were charged in federal court this month in connection with the case. Del Bosque pleaded guilty Monday to a misdemeanor civil rights charge. He faces up to 12 months in prison. The U.S. attorney's office has said that Finnegan and Olsen also have agreed to plead guilty. Since the scandal broke five years ago, seven additional officers have pleaded guilty to wrongdoing in Cook County court. Most of them received reduced sentences in exchange for their cooperation in the federal probe. The Special Operations Section was disbanded in 2007 because of the scandal.

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