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Sunday, May 6, 2012

Two Months in Prison for Cop in Corruption Scandal

2 months for cop who cooperated in corruption scandal 
The Chicago Tribune by Cynthia Dizikes  -  May 4, 2012

The last former Chicago police officer to be sentenced as part of one of the worst misconduct scandals in the department’s history was given just 2 months in prison today for taking part in three robberies while a member of the once-elite Special Operations Section. Keith Herrera faced up to 13 years in prison but had his sentence sharply reduced because he cooperated with federal authorities, wearing a wire to secretly record then-Officer Jerome Finnigan as he plotted the murder of another officer he suspected of cooperating with authorities. Finnigan, identified by authorities as the scheme’s ringleader, was sentenced last year to 12 years in prison for the murder-for-hire plot. The Special Operations Section was disbanded in 2007 because of the scandal. In sometimes halting remarks, Herrera apologized for his misconduct, blaming his behavior on immaturity and weakness. "Words cannot describe how ashamed I am of my actions," said Herrera, pausing to exhale as he read from a handwritten statement. "I'm not here today to make any excuses but hopefully help you understand how I arrived at such a low point in my life and how I tried to right my wrongs." Herrera, 34, pleaded guilty last year to taking part in three robberies in which he and other officers from the Special Operations Section stole hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash from suspected drug dealers and other citizens after making illegal stops or searches of their homes. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Netols on Friday acknowledged that without Herrera's cooperation, Finnegan likely would have gone to trial. "I believe that his cooperation has been exemplary," Netols said. U.S. District Judge Blanche Manning at first sentenced Herrera to 3 months in prison but lowered it to 2 months after learning the former officer might not be credited for the approximately 20 days he already served in jail. "You violated the trust that the citizens of the city of Chicago placed in you... Despite the pride you took in being a police officer, eventually you did succumb to greed," Manning said. "However, in addition to the severity of your transgressions, the court also takes into account those occasions in which you demonstrated good character." After the sentencing, Herrera hugged friends and family and appeared visibly relieved. Herrera currently works at a car dealership, where he is training for a management position. "We are going to move on with our lives and our families," said Herrera's father, Ismael, who sat in the front row with Herrera's mother, Kim Feret, who works for the police department. "We're just really happy it’s over," Ismael Herrera said.

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