Regular readers of our Chicago criminal law blog will undoubtedly recall a post a couple of months ago about a former Chicago police sergeant who was caught framing people for drug crimes. The fallout from the case continued a few days ago when Cook County Judge Leroy Martin Jr. overturned the convictions of seven people who had been accused of drug crimes.
News outlets report that this brings the total of people who have had convictions cleared to 50.
Those convicted tell a similar story: they had narcotics planted on them after refusing to pay protection money to ex-Sgt. Ronald Watts and his team. Fox News reports that in many of the dozens of cases, prosecutors who learned of the police misconduct began to question the validity of the convictions they had obtained – and judges have followed the advice of those prosecutors and vacated the convictions.
Since 2016, at least 50 felony drug crime convictions tied to the disgraced cop have been vacated. Fifteen convictions were thrown out in a single day in November of last year; 18 more were overturned in September of this year.
A Chicago criminal defense attorney estimates that Watts figured in more than 500 convictions before his own arrest.
Some victims said Watts and his team operated out of a public housing complex on the South Side, where they would demand payment and then shove illegal drugs in victims’ pockets and make arrests when the demands were not met.
If you or a loved one has been wrongly accused of a crime, contact an attorney experienced in protecting rights and freedoms in state and federal courts.