Small town police chief sent to big house

May 18, 2010

He is headed to jail for his role in a 2006 prostitution scam that he operated out of his own department.

Fitts will have to report to the penitentiary in early July after having pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, filing a false 2006 U.S. Income Tax return and money laundering. The 63-month sentence was in line with what federal prosecutors had requested after Fitts's guilty plea in exchange for the dismissal of seven of the 10 counts against him.

Forfeiture and restitution of nearly $300,000 was also ordered. Following Fitts' release from prison, he will serve a three-year term of supervised release.

This is how the prostitution scam worked: when the sex customer was showering off in anticipation of a romp with a prostitute, the local police chief would swoop in for the arrest. It seemed like a normal vice raid. There were just a couple of problems.

The badge-carrying lawman was a crook and the prostitute was in on his scheme to shake down clients.

Fitts admitted taking thousands of dollars in bribes from at least 100 people accused of soliciting prostitutes. In exchange for the gratuities, which averaged $3,500 per customer, Fitts would then drop the vice charges.

According to the original federal charges, Fitts accepted more than $400,000 in "fines" from victims of the sting operation. While working as police chief, Fitts admitted that he paid a woman $38,242 to pose as a prostitute. She solicited clients through an internet ad and met the men at a Manteno motel. After the customer would arrive, the "prostitute" would ask them to take a shower. At that time, according to the court filing, Fitts would enter the room and make the arrest.

He told those in custody that the case would be dropped if they paid a "fine". The money, usually cash, ended up in the chief's pocket, according to authorities.

In an unusual back story, Fitts also had a role in a corruption investigation in west suburban Melrose Park. As the I-Team revealed in a 2008 report, he was working as an agent for the U.S. Department of Labor at the time. Full details on that part of the story are at:

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