Chicago is no stranger to police scandals.
But one involving former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara may prove to be the costliest.
Already, the city has paid more than $75 million to defend, investigate and settle misconduct claims involving Guevara.
Observers say the figure will only keep climbing. There are at least 11 wrongful conviction lawsuits winding through federal court, leaving taxpayers on the hook for additional settlements and legal fees. And more could be filed if other murder cases are cleared.
“It could easily be $200 [million] or $300 million before it’s done,” says Craig Futterman, a criminal justice expert and University of Chicago law professor.
In part one of our two-part series, we profiled Daniel Rodriguez who spent 13 years in prison for murder. He claims Guevara framed him and has been fighting for nearly two years to clear his name.
“The time is done,” Rodriguez says. “I’ll never get that back. But they can right their wrong.”
As a detective based out of the Police’s Area 5 headquarters, Guevara earned a reputation in the late 80s and 90s for solving cases no other cop could. But that “success” apparently came at a cost.
In court filings, Guevara has been accused of framing dozens of men by forcing confessions, intimidating witnesses and manipulating lineups. He has not been charged with any crime.
But at least 15 murder cases he investigated have been overturned. While others like Rodriguez fight in court to clear their names.
“It’s on par with any police scandal in the history of the city,” says Josh Tepfer, an attorney for the Exoneration Project.
Guevara has avoided answering questions about the allegations, typically invoking his 5th Amendment rights when questioned in legal proceedings.
He retired from the force in 2005 and has collected a total of more than $1.2 million in taxpayer-funded pension payments from the city.
WGN Investigates found he recently left Chicago for Texas.
We traveled there to find him but he refused to speak with us on camera.
A city spokesman had no immediate comment.