Feds Bust Dirty Chicago Cops Who Were Part of Elite Unit That Stole Hundreds of Thousands From Dope Dealers

By Allan Lengel

The feds on Thursday came down on one current and three former Chicago cops — all members of a now disbanded elite-city wide unit —  implicating them in an out-of-control flurry of activity that involved false arrests, false charges and the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars from drug dealers.

One of the former cops, Jerome A. Finnigan, the ring leader,  was already facing a federal murder-for-hire charge in connection with his alleged attempt to bump off a fellow cop who he feared would testify against him in state court, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The cops, who all plan to plead guilty, were part of the elite Special Operations Section that was disbanded in 2007, authorities said.

Specifically, Finnigan and then officer Keith A. Herrera were charged with “routinely and regularly” making unlawful arrests and searches, and when the opportunity arose, stealing lots of money. In one instance, on Sept. 18, 2004, authorities alleged that Finnigan and other officers made an unlawful traffic stop, took the person’s house key and seized $450,000 in cash. The money was divided among the officers.

On May 17, 2005, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made another unlawful traffic stop and searched the motorist’s home and seized $30,000 in cash.  The officers then “inventoried only $463” and falsely accused the motorist of discarding narcotics when they approached. The officers split up $29,500, authorities said.

Several months later, Finnigan, Herrera and other cops made an unlawful traffic stop of that same person and cited him for an offense he didn’t commit “to intimidate” him so he wouldn’t  complain about the stolen money, authorities said. In all, the feds say Finnigan netted about $200,000 and Herrera got about $40,000 in 2004 and 2005.

In late 2006, state charges were brought against Finnigan and other members of the elite police unit for the unlawful arrests and seizures of cash. Then in 2007, Finnigan discussed with Herrera,  who was cooperating with authorities, paying someone to kill another cop who he believed would become a witness in the state criminal cases.  Finnigan was arrested on Sept. 26, 2007

Ex-cops Stephen DelBosque, 35, and current officer Eric J. Olsen, 37, were charged with misdemeanor civil rights violations. DelBosque allegedly testified falsely before a state grand jury in 2005 that a man dropped a bag of two bricks of cocaine when he was approached by officers, when in fact he had no drugs. The cops searched the man’s home and found 101 kilos of cocaine in his garage.

Olson also lied about a search of a man at a tavern, authorities said. Seven other officers have already pleaded guilty to state charges for their roles in the rogue activity.

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