Officer charged in alleged insurance scheme

CHICAGO Grillo and an accomplice allegedly submitted false claims for stolen vehicles.

The Chicago Police Department's Internal Affairs Division worked with the FBI on the investigation of Grillo.

James Athans runs a tow company on the city's Northwest Side. His nickname is "Meatball." And he's accused of helping at least two Chicago police officers commit insurance fraud. He's charged with coordinating a chop shop operation at the behest of Grillo.

Here's how the feds say it worked: Officer Grillo allegedly helped another unnamed 25th District officer get rid of his car so he could claim insurance money.

The car in question is a 1996 Volkswagen Passat. FBI wiretaps reveal conversations between Grillo and co-defendant Athans in which they plotted for the Passat to appear to have been stolen from a parking area near the back of the police station.

Grillo is allegedly heard on recorded phone conversations telling the tow truck man that his fellow officer would "park some place and you'll just take it."

Athans responded: "Yeah, I'm thinking about just taking it by, ah, and put it behind my lot and just burn it behind my lot."

"Yeah, alright." Grillo answered.

"He's got a 13-year outstanding record of service. He's unblemished and he's an outstanding law and abiding citizen and individual," said Barry Sheppard, Grillo's attorney.

Grillo was in court Wednesday and the orange jump suit of a federal inmate.

"It's emotional, it's stressful but he'll be fine," said Sheppard.

A police spokesperson is hinting more officers may be caught up in this car insurance scam.

In a statement, police say, "The joint investigation was launched in 2006 and remains on going with additional charged expected to be filed."

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