In a case which is proving to be a growing embarrassment for the Chicago Police Department, more than a dozen more individuals have come forward, insisting they were framed by an alleged crew of rogue officers who worked together on Chicago’s South Side.
Already, eight convictions have been overturned alleging falsified charges developed by disgraced Sgt. Ronald Watts and the tactical unit he commanded at the former Ida B. Wells housing project on Chicago’s South Side. Today, a petition was filed in Cook County Circuit Court on behalf of 15 new individuals, who say they were also framed by Watts and his crew. All of the cases took place between 2003 and 2008, a time the petition says “the Watts-led corruption was at its apex.”
Watts and another officer from his crew, Kalatt were both convicted in Federal Court for extorting protection payments from drug dealers. As part of those cases, the petition notes, Watts testified that “while he took some money on some occasions, Watts was getting ‘many thousands of dollars at a crack.’”
“Significantly,” the petition notes, “the government’s sentencing memorandum makes clear that Watts’ criminal conduct included falsifying charges against individuals who would not work with him in his criminal scheme.”
In the newest cases, brought by attorney Joshua Tepfer, all of the individuals say they were likewise innocent and framed, and in almost every instance, Watts signed the police reports as the supervising officer. Tepfer notes that while some complained, others were afraid to come forward.
“Those in this community who lived through the roughly decade-long reign of corrupt police practices in and around Ida B. Wells, were aware that the corruption wasn’t stopping,” he wrote. “And those who tried to stop it were severely retaliated against.”
A press conference involving the latest allegations is set for Wednesday afternoon.