Two Chicago police officers have been indicted on charges of
bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery following an FBI investigation into a
“kickback” scheme in which the officials allegedly collected more than $13,000
Between 2015 and 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune, officers Kevin Tate and
Milot Cadichon fed nonpublic information from traffic accident reports to
Bloomingdale-based National Attorney Referral Service. Federal authorities also
charged Richard Burton, owner of the referral service, with one count of
conspiracy to commit bribery.
The alleged scheme worked like this: Tate and Cadichon illicitly shared traffic
crash victims’ contact information with Burton, who then used that information
for injury attorneys fielding potential clients through his service. In return,
Burton made kickback payments to the officers in the form of cash and through
wire transfers. Cadichon and Tate allegedly collected at least $7,350 and $6,000
in kickbacks, respectively, according to the Tribune.
Bribery and conspiracy charges carry maximum sentences of up to 10 years and
five years, respectively.[to top of second column]
The indictments, quoted by the Tribune, explain that while Chicago police have
access to traffic crash reports before they’re processed and made public, they
may only be obtained for “legitimate law enforcement reasons.” Access and
disclosure of such information “for non-law enforcement purposes” is in
violation of the law, the indictment states.
Both officers have been stripped of their police powers while the case is
pending, a Chicago Police Department spokesman confirmed Aug. 7.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson criticized the
behavior detailed in the indictments as “disgraceful,” asserting
that it amounts to an abuse of authority, if the allegations prove
true. “The most important thing that any police officer strives for
in their career,” Johnson said in a statement, “is earning the trust
and confidence of the people they serve.”
Stemming back to 2009, a previous FBI investigation known as
“Operation Tow Scam” concluded in 2015 with the conviction of 11
Chicago police officers. Those officers had been accused of steering
business to bribe-paying tow truck companies after vehicle crashes –
and obstructing business from their competitors.
In August, CPD’s use of a “bait truck” during an investigation in
Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Englewood had been highlighted
by many as one method of policing that erodes trust between police
officers and the communities they serve.
Gov. Bruce Rauner made one encouraging step toward restoring such
trust by signing Senate Bill 3509, which removes Chicago’s exemption
to Illinois’ statewide ban prohibiting local officials from imposing
“ticket quotas” on police departments.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that he won’t be seeking
another term, his successor should make a priority of reducing
police abuse, improving public safety and building trust between CPD
and the communities they serve.
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