Burge Asks for Leniency During Sentencing

Former police commander said his health is failing

By Charlie Wojciechowski
|  Friday, Jan 21, 2011  |  Updated 4:31 PM CDT
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Burge Asks for Leniency During Sentencing

NBCChicago

Burge Found Guilty |
Former police lieutenant Jon Burge was found guilty of perjury and now faces up to 45 years in prison. Federal prosecutors and others predict that the result could lead to more trials.

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Calling himself a broken man, former Chicago Police commander Jon Burge appealed to Judge Joan Lefkow for leniency during Day Two of his sentencing hearing.

In a gravely voice, Burge said he was "deeply sorry" his case has drawn the department into disrepute.

"I will be the first to admit I’m not a perfect person," Burge said.  "I’m not the person portrayed in the media and by the plaintiffs’ attorneys."

Reading from a prepared script and wearing glasses and a dark suit, Burge said he was "deeply disturbed" by allegations he is a racist.

"I served under some of the best African American police officers who served this city," he said.

Burge told the judge his health is failing and that his battle against prostate cancer is one of the "toughest and loneliest" things he has ever done.

He did not grow emotional during his address to Lefkow. But he repeatedly fought back tears throughout the sentencing hearing Friday morning when several people testified on his behalf.

His round face flushed when his brother, Jeffrey Burge, spoke of their father. He called his kid brother his hero.

"At this point in his life, almost any sentence is a death sentence," Jeff Burge told Lefkow.  "I don’t want to see him die in prison."

Also testifying Friday was the sister of freed Death Row inmate Madison Hobley, who won a $7.5 million settlement with the city.

"How can you sit there right now and ask for three years? It’s unbelievable," Robin Hobley said, leaning in toward Burge from her witness chair and raising her voice. After several minutes of yelling at Burge, Lefkow gently told Hobley to address the judge, not Burge.

In his remarks, Burge said he had never even met Madison Hobley.

Burge was convicted last June of lying under oath about torturing suspects into confessions. Federal sentencing guidelines could keep him in prison for a little more than two years.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weismann asked for more time saying, "the sentence imposed in this case is a chance to right a wrong."

Colleagues, friends -- and two jurors in the case -- wrote about 30 letters on Burge’s behalf, asking for leniency. The Coalition Against Torture submitted a petition signed by more than 1000 people asking that Lefkow sentence Burge to above the guidelines.

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