Burge Bonds Out, Puts House up as Bail

Former Chicago cop faces perjury, obstruction of justice charges

Tuesday, Oct 21, 2008  |  Updated 9:13 PM CDT
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A former high-ranking Chicago cop, arrested Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, posted $250,000 bail in a Florida courtroom.

A former high-ranking Chicago cop, arrested Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, posted $250,000 bail in a Florida courtroom.

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'Burge Shamed His Uniform,' U.S. Attorney Says

Former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge faces obstruction of justice and perjury charges for allegedly lying about his part in torturing arrestees more than 15 years ago.
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A former high-ranking Chicago cop, arrested Tuesday on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, posted $250,000 bail in a Florida courtroom.

Former police Cmdr. Jon Burge, 60, was charged in connection with his previous testimony that neither he nor homicide detectives under his command tortured any murder suspects 20-some years ago, the U.S. Attorney's office announced.

On Tuesday afternoon, Burge surrendered his house, along with five firearms and his passport. The Florida judge who heard his case declined the prosecution's request that Burge be put on home monitoring. 

The judge orderd him to attend pre-trial services twice a week in Florida and limited his travel to the area surrounding his Florida home and northern Illinois.  He is expected to appear before Federal Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago on Monday.

"According to these charges, Jon Burge shamed his uniform, and he shamed his badge," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said at a news conference Tuesday morning.

A federal indictment alleges that Burge lied in a deposition claiming he hadn't participated in the "bagging" of a suspect -- covering his head with a typewriter cover until he couldn't breathe -- in January 1987.

Burge, fired by the Police Department in the early 1990s, has long been the focus of allegations by civil rights attorneys that he and his detectives used beatings, electric shocks and death threats against homicide suspects to obtain confessions decades ago.

The arrest capped a long-running controversy about whether Burge and his subordinates could be held accountable for alleged torture using cattle prods, bags over suspects' heads and a "black box" that administered electric shocks.

"There is no place for torture and abuse in a police station," Fitzgerald said in a statement issued after the arrest. "There is no place for perjury and false statements in federal lawsuits. No person is above the law and no person -- even a suspected murderer -- is beneath its protection."

But Burge's arrest doesn't mark the end of the investigation.  Federal authorities are still looking into the torture allegations and whether anyone else lied to investigators, Fitzgerald said.

Burge was arrested before dawn at his home in Apollo Beach, Fla., after federal prosecutors in Chicago obtained a sealed indictment charging him over statements he made in a civil lawsuit.

According to the indictment, Burge was asked whether he had been involved in the torture of homicide suspect Madison Hobley and said: "I have not observed nor do I have knowledge of any other examples of physical abuse and/or torture on the part of Chicago police officers at Area 2."

He repeatedly answered similar questions with flat denials.  However, Hobley claims he was tortured into confessing.

At a separate event on Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley faced reporters interested in his reaction to Burge's arrest.  Daley was Cook County State's Attorney for part of the Burge era.

"You can't hold me responsible," the mayor said.

The Chicago Police Department issued a statement Tuesday afternoon saying the incidents of 20 years ago should not tarnish the dedicated men and women currently serving on the police force.

 

 

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