CHICAGO — A Cook County judge on Friday vacated the convictions of seven people who said former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts planted drugs on them.
The latest wave of exonerations brings to at least 50 the number of overturned convictions tied to Watts.
The disgraced sergeant has long been accused of extorting people and planting evidence. Watts was convicted in 2013 of extortion and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.
On Friday, six men and one woman were given a fresh start. Their sentences had ranged from probation to two years in prison.
“As much as it is our duty to prosecute,” Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement, “when we find an injustice, we also have an obligation to work diligently and promptly to correct it.”
In September, 18 convictions linked to Watts were overturned. In July, 15 men filed federal lawsuits claiming a "code of silence" within the Chicago Police Department allowed Watts to run an extortion ring with impunity.