Burge Gets 4.5 Years

"Justice delayed isn't justice completely denied," says federal prosecutor

In a decision that was decades in the making, former police Cmdr. Jon Burge was sentenced Friday in a federal courthouse to 4 1/2 years on obstruction of justice and perjury charges.

"Justice was delayed in this case, and what happened never should have happened, and justice should have come sooner, but justice delayed isn't justice completely denied," said U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.

But for those who say they were falsely imprisoned because of coerced confessions, the decision doesn't go far enough.

"Four and half years, where men have spent 20 and 30 yeras in prison, is outrageous," said alleged torture victim Mark Clements.

In her remarks, Judge Joan Lefkow said she did not believe Burge's claim that he had no knowledge of the torture that occurred under his command.

She said she has been disturbed by some of the letters that have been written by the victims and their families.

Burge's case "demonstrates at the very least a severe lack of respect for the due process of law and your refusal to acknowledge the truth in the face of all this evidence," she said.  "How can one trust the system of justice, when the system is so defiled?"

Of Burge's superiors, Lefkow said: "It shows a dismal failure of leadership in the department that lead to this."

In the wake of her decision are calls for additional indictments of the officers who worked under Burge.

"These individuals are under investigation as we speak and I would like to think the U.S. attorney would bring indictments against them next," said Larry Redmond with the Illinois Coalition Against Torture.

Fitzgerald said it was a "difficult investigation" and wouldn't predict whether or not more indictments would be coming, but said "it is not yet over."

Earlier in the day, the 63-year-old Burge apologized for the disrepute that his case has brought on the Chicago Police Department and asked the federal judge for mercy in her sentencing.

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

Burge was convicted last June of lying under oath about torturing suspects into confessions.

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