Archive for January, 2017

Austin Seven Officer Jimmy Young Tells His Story

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

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Officer Jimmy Young served 8 years for crimes he did not commit.

Jimmy Young (JY) is a former officer with the Chicago Police Department working in the Austin (15th) District, where he was set up and framed as part of the Austin Seven events.

Bob Bows (BB) is a writer. His work has appeared in various national magazines, including Variety, local newspapers, including the Denver Post, on public television (Colorado Public Television and Rocky Mountain PBS), on public radio (KUVO-FM), and on the web, including http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com.

JY: December 20th or 21st was the day I was arrested. I was notified that I was the last one to be arrested. I was arrested by two IAD officers and one FBI agent, at which time they took me to the Dirksen Federal Building in downtown Chicago. I don’t recall which floor. Then they put me into a room. The room that I went into I noticed as I was going to it that there were numerous rooms in this corridor, but all the doors were closed.

When I got to this room, they did close the door, at which time a sergeant Jackson was standing by the door. I never knew who he was, until he identified himself, at which time he retrieved my badge and police identification card. A short time after that, two FBI agents walked in, one was named Thaddeus Buggs, who was wearing jeans, a regular shirt, and a baseball cap, and the other agent was R. Lee Wolters, who was wearing a suit.

I got up, shook their hands; they introduced themselves, and we sat down across a table from each other, or desk, and they pulled out a picture of an individual that at the time I didn’t know, but was known to me at the time on the street as “Silky,” a drug dealer. They asked me if I knew him and I said that I didn’t know him, but that he is a known drug dealer in the Austin area that everyone is watching. They went ahead and said no, he’s an agent of the FBI. I just said, Okay.

And then they said, “Can you tell us anything about him?” I was like, “I don’t know what you want to know. Just ask me and if I know I’ll tell you.” And they stopped there and said, “What about Regina Carter, and her partner?”—they used to call them Grandma and Granddaughter, or something like that, and I said they were good officers. And then they said, “What about TC and Crater Face, at which time was Jerry Saffold and TC McCoy, and I said, I don’t know what you want to know about them, but to my knowledge they are good officers.” And he said, “Well then maybe you can tell me about anything you may know,” and I said, “No,” and they stood up and said, “Well you’ll be here for a while,” and they left. End of that.

I’ve never had contact with Brian Netols or Mark Filips (Editor: at the time, the Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the North Illinois District), only Mark Filips because he cross-examined me during trial. Every time I did encounter them, in the hallway or at a recess, they give me a grim look. But I’m a man, I’m going to look at you back. You didn’t scare me or nothing. … I had to stand firm on my beliefs and that was that.

So, we never had any conversation. The only one that questioned me about TC and Crater Face was R. Lee Wolters and Thaddeus Buggs.

BB: So, it was just as simple as you just said. They didn’t get you to open up, and so they just left?

JY: Basically, yes. They said “Anything else you can tell me,” and, “No, nothing, I don’t care how minor or how big, no, I don’t know.”

BB: So, I’m going to be interviewing Gregg Crittleton and Cornelius Tripp as well, and from the story that I originally got from TC (McCoy), they went through a lot more stuff, in terms of being handed a piece of paper …

JY: They copped a plea. I went to trial. So, when you cop a plea with any legal agency, you have to get a … you have to be culpable, you have to be part of whatever they want you to be a part of, even though you’re going to get immunity from it. You have to give them something and you have to be a part of it. So, I’m quite sure they sent them through the ringer. At which time Tripp had to testify against me.

I wasn’t mad at him because he couldn’t say anything bad about me. He did exactly what the government wanted him to do: To say that I was aware, that this was what was happening, and that’s just that.

So, I could have been mad at him, but I can’t, because we never worked together—only one time—and the one time we worked together, their cooperating witness said, when I ran out the back door after him (Editor: the witness), when we went in to arrest him, I didn’t even know who he was. I was given a vague description. He had jumped the gate. I actually did see somebody run out here. When he testified, he testified just to that also, that Officer Young didn’t even know who I was. So, that was one of the reasons I was never found guilty on that count. They charged me with 10 counts and I was found guilty of two: my weapon being used in the commission of a crime, and attempted bribery or theft, which entailed guilt by association, because of my partner, M.L. Moore, with whom I only worked with one time, that day, March 13th, or March it was—it’s been 20 some years. But I only worked with him one time and that’s what I was found guilty of.

BB: When I initially researched the events, and wrote the history for the website, I wasn’t aware of this event in March, which is different.

JY: Let me back up. I came on the job in ’94. After my probationary period, I was moved to the 25th District. That’s Grant and Central, that’s the next District over. I was doing okay. I was an aggressive officer, right out of the military, so I still was very aggressive—not overbearing, but I went by the letter of the law. (Most of my family are police officers, so they all work for the city.) I was racking up arrests, over at 25, because it’s a lot larger than the 15 District, and I was notified by a Sergeant Bay, who was my team sergeant when I worked in 15, that the Tac team wanted me to go upstairs, which meant work on Tac. I submitted a two-form report. I believe it was initially denied because I was in 25 and had to submit a report to get back to 15, which I did. I was approved to go back to 15, at which time I did submit a two-form report and ended up on teams. I was on teams in, I believe, March of ’96.

BB: Can you explain to me what being on Tac is and how that is different from being a regular officer?

JY: That is correct. Being on teams, you work undercover and in plainclothes. You work in an undercover car, but it does have M-plates on it, municipal police. You have to be, not aggressive, but an effective officer in order to be recognized by the team sergeant. “Hey I want him on our team. He can make an impact on our team.” In the community, they pay attention to you in uniform, but on teams they really don’t.

So, with me having multiple arrests per day and trying to make an impact on the community, I guess it was noticed, and the plus side of 15 is that I lived in 15, so I knew every dope dealer, prostitute, where it was hot at, where it was not, where people didn’t live, why were they over there; so, I used that to my benefit. And Sergeant Bay knew that.

My uncle was in the 15th District. He died a short time later, was killed while on duty, but after I got arrested; so, that was a major impact to me. But you have to be very aggressive, you have to make an impact, at which time they try to get you on a team.

Once you get on a team, they do utilize you a lot, because people don’t really know you. I was born in Englewood, but my wife and I lived in the Austin area, because her family lived there. So, I would get texted, cause we all wore a pager, that they wanted me to pose as a drug dealer, or pose as a crackhead, or ride as a mark for a prostitute, you know, become a mark for them, and this happened a few times, not with Sergeant Bay, but with Sergeant Osleber, who was TC’(sp? Ask Fred) s boss.

Sergeant Rousel was actually the team that I wanted to get on, because there were more gangs. There was a gang team and a Tac team. The gang team did a lot more aggressive work than the tac team, which is just tactical throughout the district. They do a lot of investigative work, surveillance, and then they try to get a warrant. Any team c(sp?) an do it, but Sgt. Rousel was ex-military and he was very professional in what he does. That was the team I was trying to get on, but it didn’t happen. So, they put me on the other Sergeant’s team. I can’t recall his name right now.

So, leading up to me getting on a team, I got on a team, I believe it was February of ’96, and when I got off of vacation, my original partner, Lennon Shields, who was also arrested (Editor: later, as part of the Austin Seven), wasn’t at work, so I was forced to work with M.L. Moore. And the date in question with my charge was when the first day of working with him happened.

The year went on and I had to work with various people; I’ve never had a beef. I’ve never had a money beef. Nothin like that … I’ve never sent anyone to the hospital. I’ve been to the hospital getting whupped by offenders, but I’ve never whupped on an offender. When making an arrest, I’ve done what I had to do to stop bodily harm to myself, but it was nothing of that magnitude compared to what’s happening today.

So, like I said, in December of ’96 I was arrested, and not knowing what was going on. Again, I had nothing to hide from them. But when they opened all the doors and everybody came out, I was totally shocked, and I’ll tell you why: Because there were, around the district, names being thrown out was totally different than who was in those rooms.

BB: So, this was the seven?

JY: Yes, these were all the seven.

BB: Can you explain to me again, what was the event that they were charging you with?

The event was in March … and I’ll take you through the whole thing, because I remember it like yesterday.

I had a family member pass away. On the day in question, I requested from COS, the communication department, to go to this funeral in the Cabrini Green area, to pay my respects. All officers do this. I like to be down for an hour or two to go to a funeral, as long as the District is covered. Myself and Moore went. Moore did not come in. As it was my family, I went in.

Once we came out, he said we have to hurry up back to the District. I just got a call from one of my CIs (Editor: CI = confidential informant). They were about to make a drug deal, a big one. I said okay. We zoom over to the McDonalds at Laverne and Madison, at which time I let him out. He went into the McDonalds, from my understanding to survey and hold surveillance, and I went to an alley adjacent to Laverne.

He was going to radio me to hurry up once he affected arrest, or once he got people making the deal, which he did. I zoomed over there, lights and sirens, which was all of 30 seconds, and I come across who is known to me as Sgt. Shepard, “Silky,” and a confidential informant who was working with him, in regards to investigating the Austin District police.

Moore went to the driver’s side to pull Shepard out, and I went to the passenger side to pull out the other individual, at which time Shepard went to his right, to unbuckle his seat belt, and I thought it was very aggressive, so I did pull my weapon. I did draw it out on him, and God bless, I really thought I should shoot him, because he really did make this move so fast, but it didn’t happen. I grabbed the guy, handcuffed him, and put him in the car.

Moore took Shepard out, handcuffed him and they were talking, at which time he put him in the car, and I released the other guy, because I got no cause. Inside the car, there was two empty wrappers, two kilo wrappers in there, with residue, that I thought was cocaine. But there was no cocaine.

So, again, Shepard was put in the police car. I drove Shepard’s car. The plan was to take him to the District and the questioning process, and my partner said we’re going to the turnaround at West Madison. That’s fine.

The history of any undercover work is if we’ve taken a car, we drive through the neighborhood to try to see if someone will try to sell us drugs. That’s what we do. At which time, that’s what I was doing. I finally made it to the turnaround, where he had “Silky” Shepard, and he said what do you want to do, and I said it doesn’t matter, I’m going to go ahead and get a hot dog. It is not out of the norm for an officer to leave a CI (confidential informant) with an officer that is questioning him. There’s no danger; he’s handcuffed, and he’s probably giving him information he might not feel comfortable sharing with another officer, because you try to accumulate as many CIs as you can, in the street, to keep your ear to the ground to let you know what’s going on.

I went and got my stuff and came back out, when Moore decided to release him at the station. We got in the car and we left and that was the end of that. To me, he probably should have gone in and been searched, but it didn’t happen. I’m not the senior officer in the car, so I just follow his lead.

At trial, they said I was driving evasively, like I was trying to get away from someone. That’s not the case. While the Chicago Police Department teaches you how to drive defensively, the Tac team teaches you how to drive as normal as possible, and not look like a cop when you’re trying to make a buy. You don’t have your vest on, you don’t have your gun visible, you’re wearing regular street clothes. You probably didn’t shave; you’re looking like a bum. And in addition to these things are things that we use to try to get people to sell to us, or we try to get close enough to announce our office, if we are about to effect an arrest.

So, they use it against you in one sense, and then they train you to use it for the benefit of the Chicago Police Department.

He was never arrested, he was released, he was given his car, and on that day, I asked for an early release because I was not happy with anything we were doing and I was doing with Officer Moore; and that was the end of that.

And that happened in March, and I believe, the last time I worked with that team, including Crittleton and Tripp, and that’s another event (Editor: later used in court), which occurred on Sacramento and Warren, of which I had no knowledge of the information. I had to ride along, I didn’t have a partner and I had to go with them. And with that, I think there was two people arrested, and I think there was one warning citation written, and they were released. I didn’t write one citation, not one, but my name was on one. It’s not uncommon for an officer to put another officers name on a citation.

I made that clear to my attorney. She didn’t jump on that, so I didn’t think it had anything to do with it; but I think now looking back, that should have been something that was brought up.

BB: This was the staged robbery?

JY: No, if you’re looking at the first indictment, I can’t recall the date. It was in March, but I can’t recall the exact date, and I can’t recall the exact date I worked with one of them. I worked with Trip and Crittleton maybe two or three times my whole time on teams.

I didn’t think they were fast enough for me. Again, I came straight out of the military, so I was still … charged up. But I wanted to be with people that were moving faster than that—effect the arrest and go get more.

But, that said, this was about the gist of it. They never had audio on me. This guy called me once. He had all the opportunities to ask me, “Hey did you take this?” He never did. They had no video on me. They say there was video of me at the McDonalds. Their narration of the event and my narration of the event are totally different.

BB: So, basically they just made the whole thing up—what were they claiming that you actually did.

JY: First they said that the vehicle was bugged. I was confused about that, because if it was bugged, then they heard the whole conversation. They said that I leaned out of one of the cars and said, “I want it all.”

Okay. Let’s hear it. But he didn’t have it (Editor: a recorded tape), so Eugene Shepard, the FBI informant, aka “Silky,” stated it in court. And in federal court they say that hearsay is admissible. So, I couldn’t say anything about that.

BB: So they are claiming that you took the two kilos?

JY: No. They claim I took money. And I didn’t take it. They claimed that Moore took it and shared it. And they did not present any audio or video of this. That was the gist of that.

The other one (Editor: the McDonald’s event) was hearsay, and actually, the gentleman that they locked up for having drugs, exonerated me from the case, because he said he didn’t even know who I was. He later said, “I ran out the back, jumped over my neighbor’s gate and he (Editor: the cop) came out and didn’t see me throw it out.”

That actually exonerated me from that. My mandatory minimum, if found guilty on all counts, was 33 years, at the minimum. I could have copped a plea for 8 years, I got 10, but my innocence was proven to me, so I had to take that chance.

I didn’t prevail, but I did get less than what they asked. That don’t make it no better. I still get mad at it, but it is what it is.

I will say this, R Lee Wolters (Editor: one of the FBI agents involved) said, “I will find some way to get me a Sergeant locked up.” He really wanted to include a sergeant or a lieutenant, anyone in the hierarchy of the police department as part of this.

BB: He actually said that?

JY: Yes, he asked me, “Do you know any sergeant that was a part of this.” “Dude, I don’t know nothing about that.”

BB: So, they were just putting you on the whole time. They would ask you a question about something that never happened.

JY: Yes, hoping that me, shaking in my (TC knows him) boots, would say, if I get out of this I can leave. I did tell Sergeant Jackson, “Man, I go on tonight, how long am I going to be here?” and he said, “Tell them what you want to tell them and they’ll let you go.”

It’s hurts me, because it tarnished me as a professional, but right after that, they just started locking up police officers. While we were in there, they locked up three other officers from the 6th District, that was a set up by drug dealers that got caught by the feds, and then staged these events. And no money is recovered. That’s the thing that bothers me. Nothing is recovered, and they still go on with this.

There was never a day in the District when I wouldn’t get a call asking, “Is so and so and so and so working today?” and I would ask, “Well who is this?” and they would hang up. All of the big-time drug dealers wanted to know the aggressive officers’ days off, or what shift they were on.

And if he’s not working, Laverne is rolling, Latrobe is rolling. Chicago Avenue. Madison.

I lived on the Austin Boulevard, and there weren’t that many houses on that block, but they knew that Officer Young lived over there, and I never had any problems. I was a hard ass. I told them, “Whatever you do, you’ll deal with the consequences. Don’t be coming over here and preying on my family, so my kid can’t come out here and play, so my wife can’t water the lawn.” And it was understood.

It was terrible, and as soon as we got locked up, my wife videotaped it. It was like a party. Everybody (Editor: the drug dealers) was jumping up and down saying, “Why didn’t they get TC and Crater, why didn’t they get the other team?”

Three of us were just getting out of the Academy, myself, Crittleton, and Tripp. The other ones had up to five years (Editor: on the force), the longest being Eddie Jackson and M.L. Moore. Everybody else was new to the job.

BB: What did the other six say? Did those guys say things that reduced their sentences?

I’ll go down the line: Lennon Shields was initially my partner when I started on teams. He got 5 years. He copped a plea, not even a couple of weeks in. He stated that he and I took lunch money, two and three dollars here and there, just for lunch.

BB: From drug dealers?

Right. Petty people. Dope fiends. I said, ”Hey, you can go into my accounts, you can ask these people“ None of them said that I took anything from them when they went out to interview them.

M.L. Moore then went over and talked to them. He gave a proffer and then he recanted. In a federal system, once you give a proffer, they can use that against you. Over time he says, I didn’t like Young; he had rocks in his jaw; I don’t trust him.

That’s fine and dandy, too.

The prosecutors didn’t see through that. They have to save face. They can’t let me go home. So, before they can present it, make an indictment, and take it to trial, they’ve got to weigh that, and it had no weight, so they didn’t use it.

Alex Ramos, he gave a proffer, then he recanted and went to trial. These things are going to hurt you. If you did something, take your weight and do what you have to do, but you are not getting away from this conspiracy, because they do have it out for us.

Then there was Cornelius Tripp. By that time, I had already bonded out. Then there was Gregory Crittleton. But Jackson never went over there. Me and Jackson never went to see the feds (Editor: meaning they never copped a plea).

And I went to trial and they said, each day, “Hey we’re going to bring more stuff up, so you might as well cop a plea,” and I talked to my wife and she said, “No.” I talked with my attorney and they said, “No.” So that’s what it was. And yet, I was definitely scared. I’m not gonna lie. 33 years is a long time. That would have been just the start of my time.

And I feel so bad for the system itself.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

On December 20, 1996, seven Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers from the West Side of Chicago, located in the Austin District, and who thus became known as the “Austin Seven,” plus one civilian were indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly stealing and extorting $65,000 from undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers. (See the details and history of this case here.)

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The Trial of the Austin Seven

The CPD, the Mayor’s Office (Richard M. Daley, at the time of the alleged crimes), as well as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois, the FBI, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney General, and the corporate media would like us to believe that what transpired with these seven officers is a cut and dried example of good cops gone bad.

As it turns out, in 2011, a 26-year veteran of the CPD, Otha (“TC”) McCoy II, came forward with new evidence—a videotape of a staged robbery and FBI reports covering an informant’s statements regarding the perpetrators of that staged robbery, all of which were suppressed at the trial—which show clearly that: 1) the first incident in question was a staged robbery conducted by the CPD Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs, Michael W. Hoke; 2) the staged robbery did not involve any of the CPD Austin Seven officers in question; 3) the staged robbery was created initially for the purpose of framing McCoy and his CPD partner, Jerry Saffold, both of whom had already been cleared in an earlier investigation conducted by the CPD Internal Affairs Division (IAD); 4) that the officers of all agencies involved should be indicted for various crimes, including aiding and abetting the escape of a felon, obstruction of justice, witness tampering (soliciting false testimony), conspiracy to obstruct justice, malicious prosecution, violation of civil rights, conspiracy entrapment, fraudulent entrapment, and suppression of evidence; and, 5) all of investigations and staged events, legal or otherwise, by federal, state, and local officials dramatically increased the level of drug trafficking in the Austin District.

Following the staged robbery and follow-up meetings—which, according to FBI 302 reports, included members of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and his assistants, and officers of the CPD who were now aware of the confidential informant’s initial report—this same group of officials continued staging entrapments and other events, including drug deals and searches, as well as pressuring the paid informant to change his story, as well as suppressing evidence of the staged robbery and sending the paid informant out-of-town, so that he would not be available for testifying during the trial.

Thus, as it stands, virtually every aspect of the CPD’s investigation and subsequent actions is “fruit of the poisonous tree,” a legal term meaning that the case is voided because illegal actions were used to initiate the sequence of events and that these illegal actions tainted the entire investigation.

All of this is sure to come up when the defense attorneys for the Austin Seven, including the three officers who remain in the penitentiary more than 20 years later, and for the citizens of the Austin District, whose civil rights continue to be violated—by the results of a series of deliberate acts on the part of the FBI, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Chicago Police Department—file a lawsuit in the near future.

All of this begs the larger question: Who wanted to get these officers off the street?

After all, McCoy and Saffold had been partners since 1988, when the 15th District was the #2 crime district in the city, according to most crime statistics. Working together, along with Albert Parks, Jr, and joined later by Leonard Perry, they closed down dealers and dope houses and returned stolen property, receiving multiple awards while making the district the #3 most livable district in the city in the process.

Following the incarceration of the Austin Seven, which numerous community organizations protested, the Austin District was again overrun with drug trafficking and now leads the city in murders.

Again, who exactly was interested in seeing these results?

Based on TC McCoy’s 20-year investigation of the case, including interviews with those who were a part of the effort to incarcerate McCoy and Saffold, and later the Austin Seven, the known evidence points to an effort beginning with an order by Police Superintendent Matt Rodriguez to his Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs, Raymond Risley, in March 1993, to initiate an investigation into officers on the West Side in the Austin district.

Given the later cooperation between the FBI, the US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and the Chicago Police Department, it’s safe to assume that Rodriguez was following orders from somewhere in the mayor’s office.

This investigation, the details of which were performed by Sergeant Eugene Shepherd, was illegal from the start because it violated the tenets of the CPD’s Policeman’s Bill of Rights, which require a filing of a complaint to begin an investigation; yet, not one valid complaint had been filed by anyone. In other words, there was no basis for initiating the investigation; hence, it was illegal.

The premise for the investigation, an invention of the CPD, was that McCoy and Saffold were robbing street corner drug dealers of a $100 and $200, here and there. But given the tens of millions of dollars that were later spent on creating events that were designed to entrap the officers, it is obvious that something much larger was motivating the city, the CPD and its top officials, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern Illinois District and the FBI, not to mention the U.S. Justice Department, which refused to investigate despite having been shown the evidence of intent to get specific officers off the street.

Given the amount of money involved in drug trafficking, ongoing operations require the collusion of a number of different players in order to keep the cash flowing. For example, in the award-winning investigative report, “Code of Silence,”1 we find that in “Operation Brass Tax,” a joint investigation by the FBI and the IAD of the Chicago Police Department—where two CPD Officers, Shannon Spaulding and Danny Echeverria, discovered that CPD Sergeant Ronald Watts was the kingpin behind a drug trafficking operation in the Chicago projects—the officers’ attempts to expose Watts’ crimes were initially blocked by the CPD and then by the FBI.

One might well ask why it takes two alternative investigative journalism agencies to expose collusion between governmental policing, enforcement, and oversight agencies with drug traffickers.2

So, when Risley’s investigators found no wrong doing on the part of McCoy and Saffold, Rodriguez ostensibly promoted Risley to Chief of Detectives and moved him out of the Internal Affairs Division, so that he (Rodriguez) could appoint Michael W. Hoke, as Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs, to pursue further investigations of McCoy and Saffold.

Hoke has a long and sordid history with the CPD. He is a known racist involved in the torture of African-American citizens, in which he no doubt personally participated, who were forced to confess to crimes they did not commit, resulting in convictions that include two individual death row sentences.

This revelation of Hoke’s involvement in torture occurred in 1973, when he was named as one of the perpetrators in the first publicly known use of electric shock as an instrument of torture.3 Hoke was also a CPD Internal Affairs commander when data on this and other incidents of police brutality were erased. Later, when the ringleader of the torture program, Jon Burge, was indicted in 2005, Hoke was granted immunity from prosecution by special prosecutor Judge Edward Egan and took the Fifth under questioning.

This pattern of targeted, racist incarceration and torture from the CPD continues to the present, as we see in the July 19, 2006, 292-page report issued by special investigators Egan and Robert Boyle. Costing $7 million over four years, the investigation was intended to close the book on a 33-year period of unpunished violence by Burge and his cronies. Instead, it implicates everyone—from the then mayor, Richard M. Daley, and state’s attorney to every single CPD superintendent over the past 23 years—in a massive conspiracy to cover up the institutional nature of police torture, terrorism, and murder.

More recently, reports of torture by the CPD were revealed regarding the secret operations at the Homan facility.4

It gets worse. In November 2015, 14 months after 16-bullet shooting an unarmed, black 17-year old, a white CPD officer was indicted for murder.5 Year after year, as new incidents regularly occur,6 the city of Chicago continues to pay out massive amounts of money for police misconduct.7 By some estimates, the city has paid more than $500 million in settlements and other costs over the past decade tied to police misconduct.8

Beyond the details of Hoke’s criminal behavior throughout his career, the larger question is the nature of the CPD’s culture of crime, including those among Hoke’s immediate and civilian supervisors who knew about his activities.

During the Burge torture scandal, evidence showed that Richard M. Daley, while serving as Cook County state’s attorney from 1981 to 1989, ignored medical evidence related to Hoke’s use of torture.

Most recently, a report by the Justice Department has confirmed that torture, as well as other forms of excessive force, are still a part of CPD culture.9 Nothing has changed. Investigative reports that bring confirmation of the department’s steady track record of criminal activities are part of a circular pattern, going back generations,10 in which ineffective reforms are instituted and then ignored and forgotten, until the next series of revelations raise the ire of citizens and draw another round of investigations and the lip service by authorities.

Hoke’s initial investigation—like the one conducted under Risley, which was also without probable cause (that is, no complaints had been filed) and, therefore, was also illegal—turned up nothing on McCoy and Saffold. Following this, Hoke began his series of staged events: a robbery, a search, an entrapment, and fake drug deals.

In an effort to restore justice to the seven police officers that were illegally investigated, kidnapped, and incarcerated, and to restore the civil rights of the Austin community—where these officers and their supervisors had severely curtailed drug trafficking and where their incarceration allowed high levels of drug trafficking to resume—let’s review the details of the various illegal actions of members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the US Attorney’s Office for Northern Illinois, and the FBI, who perpetrated the real crimes which were committed.

According the CPD’s Policeman’s Bill of Rights, the initial investigation, and those that followed, were illegal as soon as they were initiated, since no complaints had been filed; in other words, there was no probable cause to initiate the investigation because there was no wrongdoing. This alone is cause for overturning the case, but there’s more, and it gets worse.

The so-called investigation also involved the use of a convicted felon under house arrest, who drove an undercover police IAD Corrupt Practices car to a staged robbery that used lookalike stand-ins in order to implicate officers, including officer TC McCoy, who were targets of the illegal investigation; according to FBI reports, the CPD, US Attorney, and the FBI ignored the report of their informant that Hoke was behind this crime; and further, the CPD, the US Attorney’s assistants, and the FBI asked the illegally kidnapped officers to lie about those present at the staged robbery and about other events.

The staged robbery took place on December 8th, 1995.11 As we have detailed in our narrative of this event,12 those involved on behalf of the CPD included a number of officers, including one police agent posing as a drug dealer, a paid informant, a cousin of the paid informant (under house arrest fighting “use of an unlawful weapon by a felon” charge), and a felon (who subsequently committed a murder and was released to the streets, in return for his silence). One FBI agent—the woman to be robbed—and her partners (who were there to protect her) were also involved.

Most importantly, not even one officer of the tactical unit (including McCoy and Saffold) and those who were later charged with various counts and other staged incidents was present. Not one! The staging of the robbery was so amateurish that the CPD suppressed the video and reports of the event, to keep them from being brought forth at the trial of the Austin Seven. The video of the staged robbery is posted on the Austin Seven website.13

About 13 months after the staged robbery, on January the 14th, 1997, Myron Robinson, the paid informant, who appeared on the film of the staged robbery, getting in a car, which was later identified as an FBI undercover car—was brought downtown to the US Attorney’s office. At that meeting was Jim Burns, the sitting US Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Also in the office was Mark Filip and Brian Netols, the Assistant US Attorneys who were prosecuting this case, as well as R. Lee Walters, FBI agent and Thaddeus Buggs, FBI agent, and Police Agent Joseph Airhart and Sergeant Stephen Jackson of the Chicago Police Department.

According to an FBI report, at that meeting, Myron Robinson described a series of events to everyone present which indicated that the staged robbery was entirely Hoke’s idea. Robinson further stated that Officer Edward Jackson, Jr. was not there.

We emphasize that the U.S. Attorney and his assistants are sitting there, two agents of the FBI are sitting there, and two officers of the Chicago Police Department are sitting there when Robinson says all this. As such, all of those present are fully aware that the robbery was a hoax and that Hoke hoped it would be useful in implicating tactical unit officers who weren’t present at the staged robbery, despite false identification by Robinson. In other words, for example, Robinson would lie, as he did before the Grand Jury, to ensure that Jackson, whose look-a-like was present at the staged event, would be found guilty of robbery … even though he wasn’t there. We are quite sure that the required CPD paperwork associated with this concocted robbery will bear this out. Everything that Robinson says is documented by the FBI (302) document, typed up by R. Lee Walters, with all of the officers’ signatures attesting, with the FBI’s redaction restored by TC McCoy. See below.

FBI_302_011497_p1

Despite this awareness on the part of all those present, no actions were taken based on Robinson’s statements; in fact, the Austin Seven were prosecuted for other staged entrapments that followed this meeting.

Further, according to another FBI 302 report, on April 21-22, 1997, FBI agent R. Lee Walters, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the Northern Illinois District, Brian Netols and Mark Filip, and CPD Internal Affairs Division Confidential Investigations Section Police Officer, Joseph Airhart, travelled to Little Rock, Arkansas, where the confidential informant, Myron Robinson, was sequestered (and from where he was later made unavailable as a witness at the trial of the Austin Seven), to get Robinson to change his story.

In that 302, a copy of which follows, Robinson advises that he wasn’t truthful in the first interview and disingenuously changes his story to place Jackson at the scene of the staged robbery. Having both 302s in hand, this lie becomes obvious.

FBI_302_0497_p1

FBI_302_0497_p2

FBI_302_0497_p3

FBI_302_0497_p4

[Note: This second set of FBI 302 documents is filled with errors, for example: Robinson says that Vaughn and Phil Edwards waited on Narragansett and Menard, which actually run parallel to each other (Narragansett at 6400 West and Menard at 5800 West); and, Robinson states that he took a cab to meet Jackson and Philip Edwards after the staged robbery to divvy up the cash, but he actually left the scene with Philip Edwards and Herb Brown, Jr. in Michael W. Hoke’s black Chevrolet Caprice.]

 

The upshot of this series of meetings with Robinson is that all of the officials present are guilty of various crimes, including aiding and abetting the escape of a felon, obstruction of justice, witness tampering (subornation of perjury), conspiracy to obstruct justice, malicious prosecution, violation of civil rights, conspiracy entrapment, and fraudulent entrapment.

In addition to all of these crimes on the part of these officials and officers present, everything that took place before and after the staged robbery and this subsequent meeting is “fruit of the poisonous tree.” Hence, all of the convictions of the Austin Seven are invalid.

The difficulty in bringing the Deputy Superintendent of Internal Affairs, Michael W. Hoke, and the Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Brian Netols and Mark Filip, to justice is that those who could do so have shown support for the CPD’s, the U.S. Attorney’s, the Assistant U.S. Attorneys’, and the FBI’s illegal actions, as evidenced by the inaction of the U.S. Justice Department and the Mayor’s Office on Officer McCoy’s appeals based on the aforesaid evidence.

Toni Preckwinkle letter_web

Letter from Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Board of Commissioners of Cook County,
to Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States, February 21, 2012

This pattern of passing the buck is now, once again, repeating itself at all levels with the most recent report from the Justice Department, issued by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on January 13, 2017, which:

“… paints the picture of a department flawed from top to bottom, although many of the problems it cites have, for decades, been the subject of complaints from citizens, lawsuits by attorneys and investigations by news organizations.

“As such, the report is an indictment of sorts of city officials who, the report said, have paid lip service to the community’s complaints as well as the need for reform of the Police Department and the various city agencies responsible for its oversight.”

Another example of federal, state, and local government agencies’ joint suppression of CPD criminal behavior, as previously noted, is “Operation Brass Tax,” where CPD Officers Spaulding and Echeverria’s attempts to expose these crimes were initially blocked by the CPD and then by the FBI. So, the notion that the CPD, or the FBI, or the Department of Justice are going to respond in earnest to the conspiracy of which they are a part is highly unlikely.

The same type of blockage has occurred with the Austin Seven case, as noted by Fred Osleber, TC McCoy’s long-term supervisor in the 15th District:

“I worked with Officer McCoy for almost nine years, during that time I found him to be an excellent police officer.  Over these years Officer McCoy was involved in the arrest of several thousand people. In all this time and activity, there was never once an allegation of McCoy taking money or doing anything illegal. Officer McCoy was well respected, not only by his fellow officers, and citizens, but also by the people he arrested.

“For 18 years, Retired Police Officer McCoy conducted a personal investigation concerning the imprisonment of the Austin Seven. He has appeared on several talk radio shows and held a number of press conferences. During each of these public appearances, McCoy made allegations against members of the department involved in an alleged conspiracy to frame a number of officers. To our knowledge the Department has done nothing to investigate this specific allegation. Officer McCoy has also obtained a copy of a film which is supposed to represent a robbery of an FBI Agent. There were never any charges concerning this incident, McCoy actually names the people involved in this staged robbery, and made the information public.

“I do not suggest the Austin Seven were guilty or innocent, But I believe That Officer McCoy, over the course of 18 years has asked questions that deserved to be investigated and answered. I know the Department had taken no action to discipline Officer McCoy for making statements to the press without Department permission, which is a violation of general orders.   There has been no explanation for the film made available by Retired Officer McCoy, which obviously suggest a staged robbery.  I am at a loss of what has to be done, to have someone officially investigate and answer the allegation made by this Retired Police Officer.”

The question then becomes, “What type of independent commission could honestly investigate the corruption of a system that, at many levels, aims at the destruction of minority populations through drug trafficking, other criminal activities, and ultimately through the excessive incarceration of these minority citizens and profiteering on such?”

Perhaps it is time for common law grand juries, comprised of concerned citizens, to take up such investigations and indict those responsible for these crimes.

Hopefully, such a process, if taken to its logical conclusion, would show why the Chicago Mayor’s Office and the Chicago Police Department, wittingly or unwittingly–with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI, and the U.S. Department of Justice–wanted McCoy, Saffold, and the Austin 7 in prison. And further, we hope that such a process would show what entities and individuals have stakes in returning drug trafficking in the Austin District to its previously high levels, as current statistics indicate.

Bob Bows
Austin Seven Innocence Project

Footnotes:
1 Jamie Kalven, “Code of Silence,” Invisible Institute and The Intercept, South Side Weekly, October 12, 2016.
2 http://www.mintpressnews.com/afghan-opium-production-40-times-higher-since-us-nato-invasion/219974/, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/gangster-bankers-too-big-to-jail-20130214, http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/04/air-cocaine-the-wild-true-story-of-drug-running-arms-smuggling-and-contras-at-a-small-airstrip-in-clintons-arkansas/, and http://www.globalresearch.ca/megabank-caught-laundering-for-terrorists-and-drug-cartels-and-the-feds-are-keeping-it-secret/5577894
3 http://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-police-torture-scandals-a-whos-who/Content?oid=922414
4 http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/aug/05/homan-square-chicago-thousands-detained
5 http://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/26/us/black-leaders-in-chicago-push-for-investigation-of-police-department.html
6 http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com/recent-news/
7 http://chicagoreporter.com/chicago-police-misconduct-payouts-topped-50-million-in-2014/
8 Op. cit., “Black Leaders in Chicago Push for Investigation of Police Department,” The New York Times, November 26, 2015, page A23.
9 http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-justice-department-report-20170113-story.html
10 http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com/cpd-crimes/
11 A video of the staged robbery appears at http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com/staged-robbery/
12 http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com/staged-robbery/
13 http://www.austinseveninnocenceproject.com

Justice report rips Chicago police for excessive force, lax discipline, bad training

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

One more report in a long line of reports over the decades. While it does enumerate the issues of police violence towards minorities, it does not address systematic racism, including the protection of drug trafficking in minority neighbors and the targeting of minority police officers who are successful in stopping trafficking.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-police-justice-department-report-20170113-story.html