Paper avalanche buries indicted suburban cop

Alleged corrupt police chief wants more time in fed probe
August 4, 2008 5:05:50 PM PDT
10,000 pages of transcripts, reports and notes and a list of 100 witnesses has resulted in a court delay so that indicted Grant Park Police Chief Scott Fitts can prepare to defend himself against federal corruption charges.The trial of Chief Fitts was to begin Monday in U.S. District Court in Urbana on charges that he masterminded a lucrative prostitution shakedown scheme in the tiny rural suburb south of Chicago. Prosecutors allege that Fitts raked in more than $400,000 in fines and fees from nearly 100 individuals who were snared in a phony Kankakee County sting.

Fitts' lawyer Thomas M. Durkin of Chicago last week asked for more time to prepare for the case, after federal prosecutors delivered more than 10,000 pages of discovery material including the statements of more than 100 potential witnesses.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge in the Central District of Illinois Michael P. McCuskey granted Durkin's motion for a delay and set the next hearing date for Mr. Fitts' case for Sept. 3.

Fitts, 40, is still receiving an $83,000 salary from the Village of Grant Park, while on suspension until the ten-count indictment is resolved. He is free on $90,000 bond and posted his Manteno home as collateral. Fitts' brother, a longtime Grant Park police officer, is the acting chief.

As the I-Team reported in June, Fitts has gone from federal investigator to federal defendant in a matter of a few years.

He was working for the Labor Department's public corruption squad in Chicago in 2005, that was zeroing in on allegations of corruption at the west suburban Melrose Park Police Dept. Fitts was the lead investigator on the case. During that probe, authorities say Fitts arrested a prostitute named Brooke and told her that she could "work off her case" by helping him in an investigation back home.

According to the indictment, Fitts "paid for Brooke" to travel from Texas to Illinois and that she "posed as a prostitute." Fitts would arrest her customers and allow them to make a $3,500 payment in cash to avoid public disclosure and charges, a scheme federal prosecutors say netted more than $400,000.

Original I-Team story: One lawman, two villages


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