CHICAGO — Dozens more convictions tied to a corrupt police sergeant and his crew have been exonerated by the Cook County State’s attorney’s office.
On Monday, 18 men, who served anywhere between probation to 14 years, had their convictions dismissed.
The cases are connected to former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts, who pleaded guilty in federal court to accepting bribes.
Watts is now in prison along with his partner Officer Kallatt Mohammed.
“From what we know of what was happening with Sergeant Watts, and the way he ran his operation, was that there were many men and women who fell victim to his corrupt ways,” said State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “If we want the public tor work with us, to help us, as we solve the issues of violence in our communities, they have to believe that the system will work in their favor.”
Forty-two men and women, who were framed or shaken down by Watts and Mohammad, have now had their cases dismissed.
The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago, and private attorneys, took on their cases.
The exonerated said Watts’ officers were shaking down and framing residents who didn’t cooperate with their drug scheme at the now closed Ida B. Wells housing complex.
“I’m just happy I can move on with my life,” said Martez Wise. “It’s been four years that I had to be away from my family and kids. I mean, I’m not the only one that had to suffer.”
Foxx’s office is also reviewing at least 10 more convictions involving Watts and his team.
She declined to say if more officers will be charged but she alleges that Watts’ entire tact team was involved or knew about the drug ring.
“It is one of the biggest scandals in Chicago Police Department history,” said Exoneration Project attorney Joshua Tepfer. “And i’m just grateful we have a state’s attorney’s office in place that is taking steps to address the tremendous human toll these officers and the city at large have wrought on our most vulnerable communities.”