Vet Cop Requested Tow Truck Bribes: Feds

Gave preferential treatment to certain tow truck drivers

By Matt Bartosik
|  Wednesday, Jun 30, 2010  |  Updated 12:30 PM CDT
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Vet Cop Requested Tow Truck Bribes: Feds

Supposedly, it's not what you know, it's who you know that gets you ahead in the world. But how you know them could get you in big trouble.

A veteran Chicago cop and a private tow truck operator were arrested Tuesday by federal authorities on accusations of bribery and extortion, reports Chicago Breaking News.

Officer James Wodnicki, on the force for 20 years, allegedly "requested and received cash bribe payments from certain tow truck operators in exchange for preferential treatment at accident scenes occurring in the CPD's 14th District," according to authorities.

So, he's got friends in tow places?

The 48-year-old cop was caught when he gave a tow truck driver first dibs on towing a recovered stolen car in July and then asked for $150 in return, says the FBI.

That driver, however, was secretly working for the feds.

Tow truck operator Giovanni Rodriguez was also arrested after he allegedly lied repeatedly to FBI agents, according to the Sun-Times.

Wodnicki and Rodriguez were both investigated under the "Operation Tow Scam" investigation, a five-year scrutiny of the bribery allegations against police officers and tow truck drivers.

"The Chicago Police Department continues to cooperate with our law enforcement partners to investigate allegations of criminal misconduct on the part of its employees," Police Supt. Jody Weis said in a release from the FBI. "The criminal acts alleged to have been committed by our officers in connection with this investigation do not represent the overwhelming majority of the men and women of this department."

Matt Bartosik is a Chicago native and a social media sovereign.

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