Former SOS Officers Charged With Civil Rights Abuses

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Jerome Finnigan has been previously charged with planning the murder-for-hire of a former fellow officer who was a potential witness against him.

    One current and three former Chicago cops were charged with federal civil rights violations Thursday for allegedly presenting false information and testimony to conceal illegal searches and arrests during which hordes of cash were stolen over a three-year period.

    The four were members of the disbanded Special Operations Section (SOS), an elite citywide unit, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's office.

    Two of the former officers also face federal tax charges, and one of them, Jerome Finnigan was also charged previously with planning the murder-for-hire of a former fellow officer who was a potential witness against him.

    The civil rights charges are new, and the three other defendants were charged with federal crimes for the first time on Thursday after a lengthy investigation of "rogue officers" within the disbanded SOS unit.

    Finnigan and former officer Keith A. Herrera were charged together with conspiracy to violate the civil rights of individuals. Both “routinely and regularly” performed unlawful arrests and searches, and, when the opportunity arose, stole cash for their own benefit from those arrested and the places being searched, the release said.

    The charges allege Finnigan’s share of the money stolen in 2004 and 2005 totaled about $200,000, while Herrera allegedly netted $40,000 in 2005 – all of which came from a larger pool of about $600,000 that was stolen in five separate episodes in 2004 and 2005, the release said.

    All four defendants, through their attorneys, have authorized the government to disclose that they will plead guilty to the charges, the release aid. Finnigan and Herrera also face related state charges, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office intends to dismiss those cases after the federal charges are resolved.

    Finnigan, 48, who joined the department in 1988, has remained in federal custody and resigned from the department after his arrest in September 2007. Herrera, 33, who joined the department in 2000, also has resigned. They were each charged with one count of civil rights conspiracy and one count of filing a false federal income tax return. Finnigan alone faces one count of murder-for-hire. They will be arraigned at a later date in U.S. District Court.

    Charged with misdemeanor civil rights violations in separate criminal informations filed Thursday were former officer Stephen DelBosque, 35, who joined the department in 2000 and has since resigned; and current officer Eric J. Olsen, 37, who joined the department in 1995 and is on call-back status.

    Both also authorized the government to disclose that they will plead guilty, the release said.