Ex-cop Jerome Finnigan sentenced to 12 years in SOS probe

September 8, 2011 (CHICAGO)

Jerome Finnigan admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from suspected drug dealers and ordering another officer killed in a plea deal. Prosecutors say he was the leader of a ring of officer that abused their policing powers to shake down and rob residents.

The sentence handed down Thursday afternoon was no surprise. Finnigan, 48, accepted a plea deal that would sentence him to 10 to 13 years behind bars in exchange for his guilty plea to ordering the hit and a tax charge in federal court. He pleaded guilty in April.

ABC7 file video of a 2005 drug bust shows Officer Jerome Finnigan as a member of Chicago's elite Special Operations Section, known as SOS. Investigators labeled him as the leader of a gang of crooked cops who were tasked with fighting the city's illegal drug trade.

Finnigan has admitted to having a role in several robberies. He also admitted to ordering a hit on an officer who he feared would testify against him. That plot was never carried out.

"He's an evil man," said attorney Sam Adams, Jr., in a telephone interview. "It's a travesty of justice that someone gets 13 years for these types of crime. He absolutely tried to kill his partner, and because he has certain information, he gets a pass?"

Adam, who represented ex-governor Rod Blagojevich in his first corruption trial, has a history with the Finnigan case. He represented a man who claimed Finnigan was extorting him.

Adam says he is incensed by what he believes is a short sentence for the disgraced former cop.

"As far as Mr. Blagojevich is concerned, everyone agrees he didn't take a dime. Certainly, no one had any idea of any violence, nobody attempted violence or anything like that, but he's facing similar time to what Finnigan is getting, a man who tried to kill a Chicago Police officer, a man who had people locked up, and used violence as a means and extortion as a means of enriching himself. It's a travesty in my opinion," Adam said.

Prosecutors say an FBI investigation revealed that Finnigan and his cohorts were shaking down drug dealers, robbing people, ransacking homes and conducting illegal searches and traffic stops.

The trail of police misconduct and abuses ended in 2007 when the FBI arrested Finnigan and four others.

"When police officers use their power to falsely arrest the innocent, there is little greater crime than that," said University of Chicago Law professor Craig Futterman.

Some legal critics of the Chicago Police Department say many problems came about as a result of the Finnigan case. They say that there has been little change in the system since the case unfolded.

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