2 Chicago police officers accepted $13K in bribes in alleged ‘kickback’ scheme
The officers are facing federal charges for their alleged role in a kickback scheme involving an attorney referral service seeking information on traffic crashes.
Two Chicago police officers have been indicted on charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery following an FBI investigation into a “kickback” scheme in which the officials allegedly collected more than $13,000 in bribes.
Between 2015 and 2017, according to the Chicago Tribune, officers Kevin Tate and Milot Cadichon fed nonpublic information from traffic accident reports to Bloomingdale-based National Attorney Referral Service. Federal authorities also charged Richard Burton, owner of the referral service, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.
The alleged scheme worked like this: Tate and Cadichon illicitly shared traffic crash victims’ contact information with Burton, who then used that information for injury attorneys fielding potential clients through his service. In return, Burton made kickback payments to the officers in the form of cash and through wire transfers. Cadichon and Tate allegedly collected at least $7,350 and $6,000 in kickbacks, respectively, according to the Tribune.
Bribery and conspiracy charges carry maximum sentences of up to 10 years and five years, respectively.
The indictments, quoted by the Tribune, explain that while Chicago police have access to traffic crash reports before they’re processed and made public, they may only be obtained for “legitimate law enforcement reasons.” Access and disclosure of such information “for non-law enforcement purposes” is in violation of the law, the indictment states.
Both officers have been stripped of their police powers while the case is pending, a Chicago Police Department spokesman confirmed Aug. 7.
Superintendent Eddie Johnson criticized the behavior detailed in the indictments as “disgraceful,” asserting that it amounts to an abuse of authority, if the allegations prove true. “The most important thing that any police officer strives for in their career,” Johnson said in a statement, “is earning the trust and confidence of the people they serve.”
Stemming back to 2009, a previous FBI investigation known as “Operation Tow Scam” concluded in 2015 with the conviction of 11 Chicago police officers. Those officers had been accused of steering business to bribe-paying tow truck companies after vehicle crashes – and obstructing business from their competitors.
In August, CPD’s use of a “bait truck” during an investigation in Chicago’s South Side neighborhood of Englewood had been highlighted by many as one method of policing that erodes trust between police officers and the communities they serve.
Gov. Bruce Rauner made one encouraging step toward restoring such trust by signing Senate Bill 3509, which removes Chicago’s exemption to Illinois’ statewide ban prohibiting local officials from imposing “ticket quotas” on police departments.
While Mayor Rahm Emanuel has announced that he won’t be seeking another term, his successor should make a priority of reducing police abuse, improving public safety and building trust between CPD and the communities they serve.