Brian R. Lundin
Chicago. City of big shoulders. City that’s works. A city sitting on the eastside of
Lake Michigan where magnificent, expensive high rise buildings are reflected in the cool blue waters. A city of lush green parks for lovers, friends and children. A city of sidewalks cafes and lakeside outdoor concerts. Chicago a city of neighborhood that speaks twenty-seven
different languages and twenty-one neighborhood police
departments. Suddenly the summer rains come and the infamous Chicago wind,
the sidewalk cafés empties the peaceful waters become ten foot high waves
and Officer Cecilia Went run with her six year old son to her car, drop him at
Farren Grammar School at 51st South Wabash and drive the two blocks to the
2nd District Police Station for 2nd Watch roll call. In police circles there is nothing more detested than a “Rat,” a police officer that
informs on other police officers and violate the “blue code of silence.” If an
officers get caught with his hands in the pickle jar he is expected to take his
punishment and not tell on whose else hands were in the jar, he is expected to be
a “stand up guy.” Cecilia didn’t know that morning that in a few years she would
be a “Rat!”
Ricardo Ricks grew up in the black gambling game called “POLICY.” His mother Lucy Flowers owned and operated four policy stations on the southside of Chicago all in the 2nd Police District located at 51ST South Wentworth Avenue adjacent to the Dan Ryan Expressway. The 2nd District is one of the most crime-ridden districts in the city with prostitution, drugs, wine joints, pimps, pool hustlers and gamblers. It was said in police circles that a rookie police officer could learn more about police work in a week then some officers working in “nice” districts could learn in years. Some of the police officer hustled traffic violators, some mostly the white police officers hustled overloaded trucks barreling down the Dan Ryan Expressway. Some hustled the prostitutes by getting sex freebes when working the midnight shift, some hustled the drug dealers but everyone hustled the policy stations. When Ricks was five years old he would accompany his mother and her boyfriend Johnny Dollar to her policy stations twice a day to pick up the money receipts that most days were over a thousand dollars. In the late sixties Johnny was killed in a botched robbery after leaving a “skin card game” and when Ricks got older he became his mother’s partner. Five years after Johnny’s death Lucy died from breast Cancer and Ricks became the man in the policy game.
Cecilia Went was an attractive light brown –skinned woman in her early thirties and had been a police officer in the 2nd District Police station for five years and worked a beat or patrol car. Commander Ronald O’Shea the District Commander was a fifty-five, overweight Irish captain that loved black women and had made subtle advances towards the black female officers in the district. Commander O’Shea father, Charles O’Shea was a precinct captain in the Mayor Daley 11th Ward and he and the mayor were classmates and good friends both had attended DeLasalle Grammar and High school. As a young police officer, O’Shea served on the Mayor’s Body Guard Detail and advanced rapidly in the department; in five years he was a captain and a year later was promoted to District Commander When the commander’s secretary retired he assigned Cecilia to the job. The district secretary works closely with the District Commander. She makes up the watch duty roster, assign days off and the vacation list. In the past if an officer had a part time job and wanted to stay on a specific watch or if an officer wanted certain days-off or a certain vacation the officer would drop a $20.00 bill into the secretary’s open drawer. If he refused to pay he was assigned to a watch that pre-vented him from earning the extra money but Cecelia was honest and would attempt to accommodate the officer for no charge.
During the dreaded Chicago winters the streets in “Bronzeville,” are nearly deserted and the few people on the streets are rushing to get somewhere warm but all that changed when the weather warmed up usually in late April that’s when the streets come alive, especially 47th Street the heart and soul of “Bronzeville.” To Chicago’s ethnic whites, the area known as the “Black Belt,” for it’s mainly black population, but to the thousands of blacks who live, work and die there it was proudly called “Bronzeville,” a thriving, vibrant and self-contained Mecca of political and economic power seated in Chicago’s 2nd, 3rd and 4th wards on the southside of the city. “Bronzeville,” boundaries were 35th Street north to 61st Street south, from State Street on the west to Cottage Grove Avenue on the east. The people made “Bronzeville,” a city within a city, that had it own hospital, banks, hotels and self-supported businesses that comprised the black community it even had its own elected mayor. Most of the black civic leaders, politicians and businessmen lived in the magnificent greystones building and mansions on South Parkway Boulevard later renamed Martin Luther King Dive and was the home of Provident Hospital, located at 51st and Vincennes Avenue where the first successful open heart surgery was performed by black Doctor Daniel Hale; Jesse Binga built America’s first black-owned and operated state bank and Rube Foster founded the Negro Baseball League. Many of the black political bosses lived in “Bronzeville” as well as doctors, lawyers, dentists and respected Pullman Porters. South 47th street, from State Street on the west to Cottage Grove Avenue on the East, was the black downtown, there were fine restaurants serving mainly soul food, but many of the restaurant also served gourmet foods, fine steaks and chops. There were over four hundred taverns that featured blues on the juke box and a blues band on week-ends. Most of the taverns in “Bronzeville,” were small neighborhood bars where the people in the neighborhood could walk to them and where everybody knew everybody. These small bars didn’t make much money just enough for the owner to get by. The drinks were cheap and the owners allowed his customers to run a “tab,” that allowed them to buy drinks and pay later when they got their welfare or pay checks. The owner and his wife generally worked the bar thereby eliminating a salary. Very seldom was there any trouble because the owner knew too many calls to the police could put his liquor licenses in jeopardy. A few of the bars were known as “police bars,” usually owned by a former police officer or relative of a police officer. Police officers are clannish and prefer to socialize with other police officers. Top name black entertainers performed at the Regal Theater located at 47th South Parkway Boulevard. Clothing stores, barber-shops, gambling dens and poolrooms lined the street and the night sky was illuminated with the bright lights of the jazz and blues clubs. The hustlers drove late model cars and were finely dressed as they went to the blues clubs or dinner with their girl friends or wives. The hustler ruled the strip, the Policy men, gamblers and pool sharks all called 47th street home. It was said that you could get anything you wanted on 47th street from girls to drugs, which was mainly marijuana and heroin.
Ricks is sitting in one of his stations at 4714 South Prairie Avenue playing chess with Sonny Johnson of his players and waiting for the runner to deliver the previous evening drawings or policy slips when two white uniform policemen entered. The door to the policy opened and two white uniformed police officers entered. The younger of the two was maybe five feet eight and very thin, the other officer was taller with a beer belly. Ricks didn’t know them but he noticed the patch on the sleeve of their uniform shirt that showed the district they were from was missing.
The older officer asks “Watsup Ricks?”
“I’m cool, whatsup up with you?”
“We’re your beat officers and we thought we would come in and get acquainted and get our ends!” the young officer said.
“I thought Rogers and Rings were my beat officers.”
“Yeah, but they’re off today and we were assigned,” the older
Ricks looked at the two officers. One was about twenty-five and the other
a lot older.
“That’s odd they just left ten minutes ago.”
The younger officer pushed past his partner.
“Listen nigger we ain’t got time for your nigger bullshit, now throw us out or I’m going to kick your black ass!”
Sonny who was over six feet and two hundred pounds got up from the chess table.
“Get to kicking mutherfucker!”
The young officer looked at Sonny and put his hand on his weapon.
“Let me tell you something young man, this is 1965 and it ain’t slavery times when we were scared of your white asses. If you’ve would have come to me like a gentleman I might have thrown you a few buck, but now with your racist attitude, fuck you!” Ricks said.
The officer faced turned a beak red as he looked from Ricks to Sonny.
“And another thing you don’t even work in this district, I know all the cops here so fuck off or do your worse.”
The officer looked around the room and saw three other large black men starting to gathering around, their hands in their pockets
“Fuck it, let’s split!” the older officer said.
The young officer looked around the room again and they both backed out the door.
“Get to steppin’ you white Mutherfuckers!” Sonny yelled.
Sergeant Albert Romano was forty-one, Italian, five-feet- eight inches tall, fat, balding and had a thick black mustache and grew up in the “Little Italy,” neighborhood on the southwest side of the city. Sergeant Romano uncle, Domonick Rocko was collector for the local mafia loan shark and helped Romano get on the department.
“Remember Albert with the right connections you can do anything in this
city and there is a lot of money to made on the police department.”
Albert always recalled those words from his uncle and after graduating from the academy he was assigned to the “Country Club,” the 16th District near O’Hara Airport. The district was known as the “Country Club,” district because the volume of calls was low and there was very little reported crime. Many of the officers assigned had no high ambitions and were content to spend their entire careers in the district, but Albert Romano had no such intentions. As soon as he was off probation he requested a transfer to the 11th District. Unlike the up-class mainly white citizens in the 16th District most of the citizens in the 11th District were all black and poor and the crime rate was the highest in the city. Drunkenness, killings, traffic violations, alcohol and drug abuse was rampant among the uneducated blacks. Albert was aggressive and after only a year in the district he led the district in traffic citations and felony arrest that resulted in many of the officers refused to work with saying he was too dangerous and he was going to get himself killed or another police officer, that was fine with Albert who preferred to work alone. At this early stage in his career Albert had not engaged in any form of corruption but in his second year on the department working alone he conducted his first shake down. He stopped a known drug dealer who was driving drunk, smoking a joint, on probation and had a weapon in his vehicle. Faced with a choice between going to jail and violating his parole he paid Albert five hundred dollars. Albert made a few more traffic shake downs but eventually decided it was too risky and interfered with his larcenous plans. In his third year he decided he wanted an assignment out of uniform and with the help of Uncle Rocko and a local precinct captain he was promoted to detective and assigned to Area Four Robbery Unit. Area Four was one of the largest geographic area in the city it included the 9th, 11, 12,15, 16, 17 districts from 4800 on the west, 7600 north, Belmont Avenue on the south and Cicero Ave on the east and investigated violent robbery crimes. Albert was not well liked by the other detectives and was the only detective allowed to work alone this by way of a mutual agreement between Albert, the lieutenant in charge and the other detectives. Two years later again with the help of uncle Rocko and a politician Albert was promoted to sergeant and to the relief of the detectives was transferred to the 2nd District and again with the help of his uncle was named the Vice Coordinator. Romano was in charge of the district vice unit that were responsible for enforce gambling, narcotic and prostitution laws in the district in addition to these duties Romano was also the District Commander’s bagman or payoff collector for the Commander’s Club. The Commander’s Club consisted of gamblers, pimps, night clubs, policy wheels and syndicate wire rooms each contribution depended on their operation. Policy wheel owners “Nut,” or fee was one thousand, the pimps who controlled over three girls was five hundred the large night clubs was two thousand, wire rooms was two thousand and policy station owners like Ricks was four hundred. During the course of a month the sergeant collected over fifty thousand dollars. The commander got a straight twenty-five thousand; ten thousand was sent to the boss’s downtown and the rest was divided between the three Watch Commanders, selected Field Lieutenants and sergeants and selected patrol officers and vice men. The 2nd District Vice Unit was composed of three sergeants and twelve police officers. Sergeant Romano was the Vice coordinator and Sergeant Ronald Eppilito supervised four men on the Second Watch or day shift and Sergeant Richard Novakski supervised the remaining officers on the Third Watch or afternoon shift and the power watch that worked from 1900 hours until 0300 hours. All of the officers worked in civilian dress and were assigned specific duties. Officers on the Second Watch concentrated mainly on gambling operations; policy and bookies while officers on the Third Watch concentrated on mainly prostitution, liquor licenses violations, drugs and gambling houses. Sergeant Ronald Eppilito forty and a ten year veteran of the department, clean cut and marginally handsome. He was married with two children a son six and a daughter nine. Him and his family attended Saint Columbanus church on the southwest side of the city and he was a devout catholic and family man and had served with the Marines in Korea. After joining the department he had worked with Sergeant Romano in the 5th District and had been assigned to the vice unit for three years. Richard Novakski was Polish, divorced with five children, a fifteen year veteran of the department and had a monthly child support and alimony obligation that was half of his $600 a month salary. The two sergeants were part of the “Commander’s Club,” but only six of the police officers in the Vice Unit received pay-outs from the club. Officers assigned to the 2nd District Vice Unit were considered an elite group of aggressive officers that worked in civilian dress and engaged in irregular patrol, checked the liquor establishment for licenses violation, were responsible for enforce gambling, narcotic and prostitution laws in the district. They by passes the established command hierarchy; sergeants, lieutenants and watch commander and reported directly to the district commander.
Summer had arrived in Chicago. It was a warm, humid night. Behind the Washington Park Field house located at 53rd South Parkway the three vice unit sergeants parked their unmarked squad cars side by side. Sergeants Novakski and Eppilito entered Sergeant Romano’s vehicle who gave each a list.
“These are the twenty taverns that are not in the club, I want you two to divide the list up and keep a file on each. Get their liquor license number and owner and find out if there have been any police reports on arrest or problems, but we don’t want any joints that may be problem; joints that run after hours, allow gambling, cater to prostitutes or serve minors, we want “clean joints!” Sergeant Romano said.
“How much?” Eppilito asked
“Let’s start with two hundred a month.”
“Will they be a part of the club?” Novakski asked.
Romano smiled, “Yeah, our club the “Little Club!”
The men got in their vehicles and left. The taverns that Sergeant Romano had targeted were small neighborhood taverns that barely made a profit and could not afford to pay $200 a month for police protection. Sergeant Romano sent in his vice men to make licensees premise checks, harass the customers and bar maids that drove customers away of the taverns owners that was reluctant or refused to pay, in order to stay in business many of the taverns owner agreed to pay
Corruption was rampant in the district officers who was not a part of the Commander’s Club hustled traffic and gamblers, prostitutes, drug dealers, rolled drunks and tavern owners when they found liquor law violations but they were absolutely forbidden from hustling club members. Any officer who violated that order was immediately transferred. Residents of the 2nd District kept a five dollar bill attached to their driver’s license in case they were stopped for a real or imaginary traffic violation. The Chicago Police Department did not face large-scale reorganization efforts until 1960 under Mayor Richard J. Daley. That year, eight officers from the Summerdale police district on Chicago's North Side were accused of operating a large-scale burglary ring. The Summerdale case dominated the local press, and became the biggest police-related scandal the city's history at the time. Mayor Daley appointed a committee to make recommendations for improvements to the police department. The action resulted in the creation of a five-member board charged with nominating a superintendent to be the chief authority over police officers, enacting rules and regulations governing the police system, submitting budget requests to the city council, and overseeing disciplinary cases involving officers. Criminologist O.W. Wilson was brought on as Superintendent of Police, and served until 1967 when he retired. As a result of the Summerdale Scandal the mayor retired the police chief and the eight officers were fired and sent to prison.
O.W. Wilson obtained his degree in Criminology from the University of
California, Berkeley in 1924. To pay for his tuition, he joined the Berkley Police Department, serving under another famous police officer, scholar and writer, August Vollmer. O. W. Wilson went on to become influential police scholar as well as the chief of police of the Fullerton Police Department (California) and chief of police of the Wichita Police Department (Kansas); and, the superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army as a public safety officer. O.W. Wilson is the author of at least three books on policing and law enforcement: Police records: Their Installation and Use; Police Planning; and, Police Administration. O.W. Wilson’s book, Police Administration, is one of the most influential books in America on local law enforcement. Wilson attracted national attention by reorganizing the Wichita, Kansas police department initiating such innovations as marked police vehicles, two-way radio dispatch, and the use of lie detector machines and mobile crime laboratories. Wilson became known for his ethical behavior and for eliminating police corruption. He taught that the police could not prevent crime because they had little control over social causes, such as poverty and neglect. However, the police could repress and control crime through aggressive tactics such as preventive mobile patrol. Until the 1930s, foot patrol was the dominant focus for police work. As part of the professional crime-fighting model, Wilson promoted motorized patrol as being more effective than the traditional foot patrol. Officers on foot were limited in their ability to respond, especially when weather or other conditions impeded the action. It was believed that officers utilizing mobile patrol could cover more territory, respond more quickly to criminal incidents, and provide greater deterrence. Wilson did not foresee officers remaining in their vehicles for most of their shifts and becoming isolated from the public. He believed that officers would still observe, talk to, and interact with the community for whom they were responsible. Later studies (Kansas City, 1978) also showed that increased random patrol did not serve as a deterrent for criminal activity. Wilson carried out Vollmer's approach to police professionalism. He saw corruption as the by-product of poor organization, inefficient planning, and an unorganized command structure. Police managers were encouraged to separate themselves from local politics, utilize rigorous police hiring practices and training, and learn how to use the latest technological innovations available to law enforcement. At the time, these innovations included marked patrol cars, radio communication systems, and enhanced record keeping. O.W. Wilson looked like a college professor. He was tall and lanky and his suits always looked liked they needed to be pressed. But the mayor had given him carte blanche into re-organizing and cleaning up the department. Wilson was a disciplinarian who believed that organization and discipline were the hallmark of a successful police department and believed that corruption could be eliminated by instilling a new sense of professionalism and argued that the police executive should be more than a figure-head or political appointee a situation that had existed too long in Chicago. O.W. immediately went to work issuing a series of General Orders that listed a code of ethic for police officers required a psychological profile testing during the recruitment and hiring stage, hired more black police officers and assign them to black districts. He reorganizes the Internal Affairs Division which was tasked with investigating complaints against police officers and developing internal corruption control strategies. Wilson made it clear that corruption would not be tolerated and he developed Rules and Regulations that clearly defining what actions would not be tolerated and informed officers of expected standards of behavior and consequences for violating those standards and he informed the community about those standards and urged them to come forward and report instances of corruption or shake-downs. He also provided grounds for discipline and counseling of errant officers and forbid gratuities arguing they created a climate which might breed more serious corruption. He created the Police Corruption Unit that investigated police corruption and reported directly to him and appointed Louis Watson as its commander but even with all the rules and orders forbidding corruption it continued mainly because many of the big bosses in the department were corrupt.
Commander Roland Watson was a twenty-five years veteran of the department, married with two grown daughters. He was a handsome black man. He was bald-headed, over six feet tall and wiry, but had a muscular body with broad shoulders, well defined arms and a narrow waist. He was a sharp dresser and his suits were custom- made by Skeets the Tailor who had a shop under the 43rd Street CTA Elevator Station and always wore wide-brimmed stylish hats. Commander Louis Watson was working at his desk at Corruption Unit at Police Headquarters located at 1121 South State Street. He was reviewing citizen complaints ranging from police officers demanding payoffs from traffic violators to anonymous complaints from drug dealers complaining about being robbed by police officers. Initially the Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigated citizen complaints against police officer that usually involved excessive use of force, improper police actions, etc. but the Corruption Unit was tasked with investigating police corruption. There was a knock at his office door and Sergeant Ollie Flowers entered carrying a manila folder. Flower’s was the commander’s best friend and aide and they had been partners in the 3rd District Tactical team ten years ago. Sergeant Flowers was a big powerful looking man with thinning black hair and he always seemed pissed at something or someone. He took a seat across from the commander.
“That shit in the 2nd District is getting out of hand. Not only has that thief O’Shea getting rich shaking down every big player in the district he let his beat officers shake down the poor little nickel and dime operations and law-abiding cit-izens.”
“Everyone in the department knows about his Commander’s Club, but none of the big bosses want to do anything about it, they don’t want another Summerdale scandal,” Watson answered
“Well, maybe you should take it to the Chief, let him decide?
“Good idea that’s what I’ll do and let the “chips fall where they may.
A lot of the big bosses will be shittin’ their pants!”
When the commander and the sergeant entered O.W.’s office they were greeted warmly.
“What can I do for you commander?”
“We have a problem in the 2nd District, the commander and probably half of his police officers are probably corrupt. I’ve received numerous complaints from drug dealers, gamblers and average citizens of being shaken down by police officers and it is common knowledge that the commander has a “Commander’s Club.”
“That’s a club where selected criminals contribute payoffs to the district commander for protection against raids and arrests,” Flowers answer.
“The problem is if we started an investigation it could lead to another scandal and I believe that many of our exempt officers maybe involved,” Watson added.
“Do you have any proof of any of this?”
“No, I wanted to run it by you before starting an investigation.
“Well, the mayor hired me to clean up the department and that’s what I going to do! If the commander is dirty l want his ass in jail and let the chips fall where they may. The problem with widespread corruption is it undermines public trust and it entices normally decent men into its clutches. Once exposed these men who are actually good men with loving families and attend church regularly attempt to justify their actions by stating the money was thrown at them as they went about their duties They say that the public is to blame for their corruption that the public want crooked cops that it is the public that offer them bribes to overlook violations, it is the public that give them the free coffee and donuts and other gratuities and before long the cops becomes “bullies,” demanding that free cup of coffee and they demand pay-offs from the small tavern owner to the silk-suited syndicate hoodlum. The literature states that much of the corruption of police officers originates in taverns or bars. Police officers have always found themselves in bars, on and off duty, they like the fast women and action that are generally in bars. Any tavern owner no matter how clean his place of business is love to have policemen as customers they getting top flight security for a few free drinks and in no time at all the money is passed from a mob lieutenant to a police lieutenant but the sad thing about police corruption is the family and love ones who sit in a court room and watch as their relative is sent to prison but if there are corrupt police officers I will fire them, retire them and put some in jail!”
Cecilia Went was aware of the club but was not a part of it she watched as Sergeant Romano once a month entered the commander’s office carrying a black bag. One evening after completing her tour of duty Cecilia had to return to the district to finish some paper work. The commander could enter his office through a side door that by-passed the front desk. It was after 9:00 pm and she knew the commander usually left about five. As she approached the door she heard laughter and women voices. Cecilia quietly inserted her key pulled her weapon and rushed into the office. The sergeant and commander were stripped down to their underwear and three young black women wore only their bra and panties. “Sorry commander,” was all Cecilia could say before backing out and closing the door. Commander Roland Watson and Sergeant Ollie Flowers returned to their office and reviewed the complaints concerning police corruption in the department.
“Damn, even the doctors at the Medical Sections are corrupt. I’m reading an anonymous letter from an officer that states he had the flu and went on medical, after two days the Medical Section doctor called him and told him if he didn’t report to the Medical the next day he wouldn’t approve his sick leave. He further stated that he told the doctor he had a temperature of 103 and was confined to his bed and when he felt better he would report to the Medical Section and take care of him. Well a week later he reported to the doctor and gave him $50.00 for a return to duty slip,” Flower said.
“And the 2nd District is a cesspool of corruption with that thieving Commander O’Shea running the show with his club.
What we need is someone on the inside that knows about the club and is willing to help us!” Watson replied.
“But who, you know how cops feel about “rats?”
Ringo Throop was born and raised on the southside of the city and graduated from
DuSable High School. He married his high school sweetheart, Jean woods when he was nineteen. Ringo got a job at as a file clerk at the Social Security Administration Office in downtown Chicago. It was a boring job with little pay and no chance of advancement. After year he got hired as a mailman an equally boring job and little chance for advancement. When he was twenty-one one of his co-workers told him that the Chicago Police Department was hiring and he took the written examination and passed. After a series of other examination he was finally hired by the department and entered the thirteen weeks training at the academy and when he graduated from the academy he was assigned to the 2nd Police District for his ninety-days probationary period and his Field Training Officer was Roscoe Lawrence a twenty year veteran they were assigned to Beat 204 on the Third Watch. Beat 204 covered the area 47th Street to 51st Street State Street to King Drive. Their beat had thirteen taverns, five gambling houses, prostitutes, drug dealers and twenty-five policy stations.
“Forget all that bullshit they told you about at the academy, it’s out here on the streets where you learn police work. The department got its rules and we in the “Deuce,” got our rules and rule number one is you never rat on a fellow officer and always be a “Stand-up Guy” who protect your fellow officers and they will protect you, be a “Rat,” and you’ll find yourself all alone with no backup and no friends. Stand-up guys have big balls, back up their fellow officers and they never rat out their friends.”
After completing his probationary period Ringo and Roscoe became regular partners and they worked the third watch on Beat 204. There were many quick-fisted violent police officers in the 2nd District both black and white they were always the first on the scene at a “10-1,” call of a officer needs help, the first through the door at an arrest of a violent offender and the first to use their fists or baton on a uncooperative offender. They were the cops who led the district in arrests and traffic violations but often their record reflex excessive force or over-zealous policing. They can be either heroes or sadist or both. Ringo had a ringside seat to the greatest show on earth. Everyday day he came face-to-face with all the evils in the world; the lowest of the low, the meanest and the vulnerable. He learned that if rubbed hard enough anyone could and often did kill. He also learned to never underestimate anyone; that psychos were very dangerous and frequently possess superhuman strength when fueled by an adrenalin rush and even the smallest, slight person under this adrenalin high can be hard to handle. He learned that a peaceful crowd could turn into a mob so he learned to cover his ass, back up his fellows and never but never rat. Roscoe was forty-five, six feet three and weighed over two hundred twenty pounds, divorced and had three daughters that didn’t speak to him and a drunk. His favorite watering hole was a basement cleaner on 46th South Calumet. The owner Burke was a convicted burglar and after serving three years in Statesville Penitentiary he got some of the cash he had stolen and stashed with his mother opened the cleaner. Burke and Roscoe grew up together on 35th Street and were good friends. While on probation Roscoe always left Ringo in the car while he went visiting Burke but Ringo noticed that when Roscoe returned he smelled of alcohol but like Roscoe had told him you never rat out a police officer and especially your partner. Burke always kept a fifth of vodka for Roscoe and in addition to the free drinks Rosco was sweet on Lilli a presser at the cleaners. Lilli was a tall, big boned, forty-year old woman with big tits that nearly flopped out the low cut blouses she always wore. She wasn’t what you could consider pretty but to Roscoe she was very sexy. Finally, Roscoe took Ringo with him into the cleaners and introduced him to Burke and Lillie. Burke always kept a bottle of Vodka and a bag of salty peanuts on a back table. Lillie looked at the six feet, one hundred and eighty-five pounds Ringo and gave a gap-tooth smile. Lillie pulled Ringo as close as her tits would allow.
“Who is this fine black, young mutherfuker?”
“That’s my partner he is a good looking boy.”
“Sit and have a drink!” Burke said.
Ringo really didn’t drink but he sat anyway and Roscoe poured him a big glass of vodka.
“Down the hatch!”
Lilli, Burke and Roscoe downed their drinks. Ringo took a sip and got hot all over and coughed. Burke, Lillie and Roscoe laughed. Suddenly there was a female voice over Ringo’s radio.
“Beat 204, Beat 204, man with a gun at 4550 south Calumet 3rd floor.”
Roscoe downed the last of his drink.
Beat 204 arrived at the location in five minutes and parked behind the two squads that were there already. When they entered the stairway two officers were outside the apartment bamming on the door with their batons.
A voice from inside the apartment replied.
“Open the door mutherfucker or we’ll break it down!”
“Fuck you; I’m going to kill this whoring bitch.”
Roscoe kicked the door down and rushed in the apartment and the irate man
raised his gun and aimed at Roscoe but before he got a shot off Ringo shot him in the forehead. The man looked surprised as he looked at Ringo before dropping his gun and falling dead on the dirty floor. Ringo was in shock as he looked at the dead man his hands were trembling violently and he dropped his weapon. The woman sitting on the couch dressed in her bra and panties jumped up started yelling at Ringo.
“You black mutherfuka you killed my man!”
Before she could attack Ringo who was still shaking Roscoe knocked her out.
“That dead mutherfucker is a drug dealer I’ve locked up; let’s
look around maybe something is here.”
The two officers and Roscoe began searching the apartment. Systematically the used a knife and cut open the semen stained mattress, threw women and men underwear out the drawers and searched the closet. Ringo watched all this sitting on a couch drinking a glass of water. Suddenly one of the yelled.
The officers help up three freezer bags, two contained cash and
the other one contained small bags of brown powder. The woman started to wake up but Roscoe hit her in the head with his sap or blackjack and she was out again. The officer spilled the bags of brown powder on the kitchen table.
“Mexican Mud, maybe a six grand worth.”
“How much cash?” Roscoe asked.
The officer empties the bags of cash on the table and began counting.
“Let's put everything in place split the dough and call the sergeant.”
“I can deal off the drugs to a guy I know!”
Ringo watched as the officer gave Roscoe three thousand dollars and kept two. They propped the woman on the couch, handcuffed her and threw a blanket over her. Ringo looked at the man he had just killed but the other officer completely ignored him. Ringo felt sick and bounced off the couch and ran to the dirty bathroom and buried his head in the commode. In fifteen minutes the Field Sergeant, Field Lieutenant and Area One Homicide Detectives arrived. Roscoe told the supervisors what happened and how Ringo had saved his life but he didn’t tell them about the drugs and money, Ringo was a hero.
“Let’s go by the cleaners, you look like you could use a drink,”
In the squad car Roscoe gave Ringo a thousand dollars.
This is for saving my ass!
Ringo was on the road to being corrupt.
It took Ringo a while to get over killing the man but he was held in high regards by his fellow officers and received a Department Commendation for saving his partner and perhaps the other officers at the scene. His reward for his heroic action was assignment to the districts Vice Unit’s his partner was Robert Starks a tall, lanky very dark ten year veteran and a member of the Vice Lord Street Gang. Starks knew all the policy runners in the district, all the after-hour gambling joints, all the whores and their pimps, the drug dealers and who were members of the club and who were not. Starks and Ringo were not privy to a cut of the “Commander’s Club,” but they were free to hustle everything else. They worked the “power watch,” 6:00 pm to 2:00 P.M. There were five major policy Wheels that operated in the district and each wheel had ten to twenty runners who picked up bets from the policy stations. Wildcat wheels maybe had four and Starks knew them all. Their first night together Ringo watched as Starks pulled over the runners gave them a small slip of paper and continued on to the whore houses, gambling joints and policy station that wasn’t a part of the club. Ringo was confused what was going on? When they ended their tour of duty and were in the locker room Starks handed Ringo two hundred dollars and explained.
“Those guys I pulled over were policy runners and the slip of paper I gave them was for their field man to meet us tomorrow at 43rd Wentworth where we will get our “ends.” The whore houses and gambling joints are not part of the club and they take care of us once a month, good job, huh?”
During the “power watch,” was when the prostitutes, drug dealers and hustlers were the most active. In early June at 3:00 A.M. they were parked under the CTA elevator station at 47th South Calumet Avenue when Starks spotted Rene’ a prostitute.
“See that hoe I grew up with her, her name is René’ and she was a fine bitch, big ass and tits, we dated a couple of times while in high school but hard as I tried she would never give me none of that pussy but she got hooked and now is nothing but a whore.
Ringo looked at Rene’ she was still attractive and still had a big ass and tits. She was about five feet, jet black skin and sharp features. She was wearing a red mini-skirt, a white see-through blouse, and red thigh-high boots, Starks called her over to the car.
Rene’ had a blank expression and answered “Whatsup with you Robert?”
“Slow, I might as well go in; you sonofabitches then scared all the tricks off, why don’t you’ll find another spot to waste time.”
“What will you do for us if we leave?”
“What you want?”
“When we were kids you never gave me none of that pussy, I
still want to fuck you.”
Rene’ laughed. “So you want a free fuck, huh?”
”Yep, me and my partner.”
“Fuckit, what is a fuck to me?”
Rene’ got in the back seat of the squad car and Starks drove behind the swimming pool in Washington Park Ringo got out the car.
“I’ve got to take a piss.”
Ringo got out the car and watched Starks climb into the back seat. Ten minutes later he watched as Starks got out the car and pulled up his pants.
Ringo looked in the back seat Rene’s short skirt was pulled up exposing her pussy.
“Come on boy, let’s get this over with!”
Ringo climbed into the back seat and had sex with Rene’.
Afterwards they drove Rene’ back to 47th Street.
“Have a good night!”Starks said.
As they drove off, Ringo looked back and saw Rene’ smoothing out her skirt and walking the busy street.
Starks and Ringo started shaking down the gangs drug dealers who were not members of the Vice Lord’s Street Gang pimps and everyone else they could. One evening Ringo and Starks was parked facing north in the alley between 43rd South Calumet Avenue and Indiana Avenue when an old beat up Ford entered the alley, stopped at a garbage can and a young black man got out, opened the trunk and got a large Jewels bag out and carefully placed it in the garbage can and got back into his vehicle but before he could take off he was blocked by Starks. The emaciated young man looked to be no older than nineteen.
“What’s in the bag?” Starks asked.
“Fuck if I know I was given fifty bucks to place it in the garbage can.”
“Let’s have a look see!”
Ringo retrieved the bag and opened it. Inside the bag was at lease fifty smaller cellophane bags. Ringo gave one of the bags to Starks that used a switch-blade knife to pierce the bag and got a little of the contents on the knife, Starks tasted the brown powder.
“Taste like Mexican Mud!”
“You’re in big shit!”
The young man was sweating profusely.
“Man I didn’t know what was in the bag, I swear. I was paid fifty bucks and given a bag of smack to make the delivery at 2:00!”
“Who’s the pick-up man?”
“I don’t know!”
“Well let’s have a seat and wait,”
The police officers and the junkie got into their vehicle and pulled back to the mouth of the alley. After a fifteen minute wait a black Hondo pulled into the alley, stopped at the garbage can and another man got out. The man went to the garbage can and looked in when Starks blocked him in.
“Looking for this?”
“Who the fuck is you?”
Ringo held up his identification.
“How much this bag worth to you?”
“Is it worth five grand a piece and a walk away?”
Starks threw the man the bag and was given ten thousand dollars but what Ringo and his partner didn’t know was the young man and the other man was undercover FBI agents.
Policy gambling is a very simple game that was played almost exclusively in the black neighborhoods. In 1885, a young man named Samuel R. Young who was born in Huntsville Alabama brought the game to Chicago. Policy Sam as he was to be known, traveled the south playing with a black baseball team, but in between base-ball games Policy Sam worked his gambling game on the other players and the spectators. After a short stint with the baseball team he started working his game and played poker on the riverboats in New Orleans. In 1885 after marrying Ada miller of Louisville, Kentucky they moved to the southside of Chicago where Sam perfected his game. Sam hustle his game in the neighborhood and most of his time was spent hustling his game in down town Chicago at the corner of State Street and Madison Avenue, which at the time was the busiest street in the world. After explaining how the game was played to the people, black and white, who had stopped to watch, he would take their bets and pull the winning numbers from his hat. The odds were 10-1, in his favor, and he seldom lost. In the late 1890’s Sam went into business with John “Mush Mouth” Johnson, so named because of his fondness for cussing. Johnson was a gambler from St. Louis who had moved to Chicago in 1870 and was a partner in a gambling joint on south Clark Street with two white men. Everyone was welcome, and bets were as small as a nickel. After meeting Sam, Johnson sold his interest in the gambling joint and opened the emporium saloon, where Sam’s game was featured. The first ward bosses, Michael “Hinky Dink” Keno and John “Bathhouse” Coughlin protected the saloon for a monthly fee. By the turn of the century Policy Sam’s game had caught on and everyone was playing it, housewives, young people, the wealthy and the poor. Policy had reached a fever pitch and everyone was chasing the jackpot, but with this popularity there also was crime. Old women and men were being robbed on the street and there were countless knifing and shootings. In 1903 Reverend Reverdy Cassias Ransom, pastor of the international AME church located at 3825 south Dearborn Street begin to attack what he called “The evils of Policy gambling,” from his pulpit. Trying to shut the reverend up someone firebombed his church. The black community backlash resulted in the historic passing of Illinois Senate Bill#30: An Act for the Prevention of Policy Playing: the anti-Policy law of 1905, sending Policy gambling underground. Mush Mouth and Policy Sam got out of the business but Policy still was being played but on a smaller scale. In 1915 Chicago elected a new mayor, William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson and the first black city alderman republican Oscar DePriest. The mayor and DePriest was swamped in corruption and allowed Policy to reinvent itself and flourish free from police in-terference. Mayor Thompson has been called the most corrupt politician in American history. William Hale” Big Bill” Thompson was born may 14th 1868 in Boston, Massachusetts. In the 1870’s his father Colonel William Hale Thompson moved the family to Chicago. “Big bill” entered politics in 1900 when he was elected the 2nd ward alderman as a republican. In 1915, he became the 33rd Mayor of Chicago. In 1923, after learning he was being investigated by the states attorney‘s office for fraud he withdrew from the mayoral race and reform democrat William Dever was elected mayor. Dever was firmly on the side of law and order and fanatically in his enforcement of prohibition, his police department shut down the speakeasies and taverns angering the generally thirsty public but also the Chicago mob ran by Johnnie Torreo and a tough young man from New York City, Al Capone. Dever served as the mayor for only one term and in 1927, “Big Bill” ran for mayor again, promising to reopen the taverns that Dever’s had closed. The citizens of thirsty Chicago elected him to a third term as mayor. Chicago was an open town, he allowed the mob and gamblers free reign over the city and he ignored crime, which was running rampant. The mayor was suspected of being on the mobs payroll, during his reign as mayor, and was kept under surveillance for his anti-war and anti-British stance by the United States Justice Department. “Big bill” depended upon oratory, showmanship and symbols to gain political victories, like when he brought a horse into the city council chambers; in the end this was not enough to sustain “Big Bill’s” power in the face of the depression and the city’s weariness of crime. On April 7th, 1931, Chicago said goodbye to its last Republican Mayor and elected Democrat Anton Cermak. “Big Bill,” lost his bid for governor in 1936 and his fifth campaign for mayor in 1939; he died in the Blackstone hotel in 1944.
Mayor Cermak worked his way up in politics and his mentors were IST Ward bosses Bathhouse Coughlin and Hinky Dink Kenna. He was elected twice as the President of the Cook County Board and held that seat until elected as mayor. Policy became the biggest black-owned business in the world with combined annual sales sometimes reaching the $100 million mark and employed thousands of black people. In Bronzeville, Policy was a major catalyst by which the black economy was driven. The Policy wheels employed blacks that were denied legal jobs. It was reported in one national magazine “Blacks in Chicago drive bigger cars have more money and are better dresses than any other city in the country. Chicago became the Policy Capital of the world and home of the 5th Police District; the Wabash Station located at 48th South Wabash Avenue and the 28th Municipal Circuit Court, commonly known as Branch #38. Mayor Cermak, like all the other politicians was on the mobs payroll and he ran his administration with an iron fist and he completely reorganized how gambling was going to run. He appointed new bosses, loyal to him, to oversee gambling on the north, west, south and east sides of the city and appointed Captain Dan “Tubbo” Gilbert, one his long time cronies as the commander of the 5th District.
Meanwhile Policy continued to strive with two to four daily drawings, seven days a week. There were scores of writers taking bets on the street and in apartments. In the black neighborhoods, bettors were lined up outside of the Policy Stations waiting to bet their nickel or dime on their kid’s birthday or some number they dreamed about. The mayor was incensed, Policy was running wide-opened in his town and he wasn’t getting a cut. What the mayor didn’t know was that Policy Wheel owners had cut deals with the Captain Gilbert and the police officers in the district. Every police officer in town wanted to be transferred to the 5th District to get in on this cash cow. There were pre-arranged “Setup Raids,” where a station was raided so that Gilbert could show the Police Commissioner statistic that he could present to the mayor. Mayor Cermak was determined to get control over Policy gambling, he organized a “Special Police Detail,” known as Squad #12, led by Sergeant Mirtell Parker of the 5th District, who reported directly to the mayor. Parkers mandate was to shake up Policy and bring them into his fold. Squad #12 began a mission of terror in the 5th District, snatching not only Policy men off the streets, but innocent people that had nothing to do with Policy whatsoever were harassed too, especially women. They broke into private homes and shook down innocent people on the streets, all in the name of controlling Policy gambling. Cermak persuaded State’s Attorney John Swanson to unleash a special squad of State’s Attorney cops to investigate Policy. Squad #12 and the State’s Attorney cops made numerous raids on the Policy stations in the district and arrested scores of people, mainly old men and women, but all of the cases were thrown out because of faulty search warrants. The Chicago Defender, a black newspaper, prominent black business and civic leaders demanded that the mayor bring the police situation under control. Eventually greed prevailed and the police and the State’s Attorney’s cops chose money over the mayor and submitted false police reports to the mayor claiming that Policy had been shut down. Mayor Cermak went public, praising his police and the States Attorney police for putting Policy out of business in the 5th District, but later that year he took an unannounced personal tour of the district in an unassuming car to see for himself the fine job his police had done, what he saw shocked him; Policy writers were operating openly on the streets, lines of people were lined up outside known Policy Stations, and Policy runners were throwing the Policy drawings from their car. The mayor was furious, everyone including his Police Commissioner had lied to him, Policy wasn’t dead, and it was still as strong as ever. He called Police Commissioner Alcock and Sergeant Parker on the carpet, hell-bent on finding out what happened. What Cermak didn’t know was that Parker was indifferent to Policy, he saw it as a business that helped blacks in the community, he was quoted as saying,” I wondered when the Moses of and for the colored people will make his appearance. When will they have a man with brains, integrity and sheer guts to stand on his own feet and direct and demand that these thousands of colored people be given their proper representation, their rightful place in the economy and social structure in the only country they ever knew.
Only the policy stations rivaled the churches in the black community. The policy station is to the black community what the racehorse bookie is to the white community. In these mysterious little shops, tucked away in basements or in the rear rooms of stores, one may place a dime bet and hope to win $20.00 if his “gig” came out.” The stations were everywhere. The stations were technically illegal, but tolerated by the police. In December 1954, Lucy Flowers rented a vacant basement apartment at 4323 South Indiana Avenue and launched her first policy station. She printed up handbills advertising her station as being honest with guarantied payouts and hired Edwinna Johnson an attractive black woman in her late forties and always neatly dressed. Her hair and makeup was always perfect and she had written for some of the largest policy stations on the southside and she knew all the ins and outs of the game. Lucy hired her as his policy writer and manager and she taught the game to her. Edwinna explained how the station made its money and how to keep the customers happy by treating them with dignity and respect. Most of her customers were older people and housewives who played policy for so long, that they thought it was legal, but she also had schoolteachers, ministers, area businessmen and local politicians as her customers, all hoping to hit the big payout, very few ever did. A “FOR RENT,” sign posted prominently in the window-helped camouflage the station and when the red light over the back door was on the station was open for business. The policy station contained a large table with pencils and McLemore slips of scratch paper, which the bettors used to record their wagers. Edwinna hired Luella Jones another experienced writer. Both of the women, Edwina and Luella, were paid a straight salary of fifty dollars a week, good money for a four or five hours a day job. Both women lived in the neighborhood and could walk to work. There were no windows in the station but during the summer, they kept the back door open to catch the cool breeze coming off Lake Michigan and there were two big fans. The policy station was a meeting place for the older people in the neighborhood who would hang around drinking coffee, eating donuts provided by the station and gossiping after placing their bets. Most policy players were unemployed and received some type of welfare check. The merchants and the currency exchanges charged a fee for cashing the check but Lucy would cash the welfare checks of his players, free of charge. One morning Lucy was at the station drinking coffee and eating donuts with the players when a young man, maybe twenty sat alone in one of the chairs weeping Lucy asked the young man what was wrong and he said that his mother was very sick and needed medicine but the prescription cost two hundred dollars and he didn’t have the money and he feared she would get worst or possibly die if she didn’t get the medication. Lucy reached into her purse and took out a roll of bills but it was only a hundred and fifty dollars she looked at Edwinna and said, “Could you loan me a hundred bucks?” The young man protested and said he only needed two hundred with a look of admiration Edwinna gave the money to Lucy which she gave to the young man. The man hugged her warmly and hurried out of the station. Unlike so many other policy stations, Lucy’s was always clean, comfortable and the bettors felt at ease. Lucy received twenty five percent of the bets made and the rest went to the Policy Wheels that were responsible for paying any winning gigs. Due to Lucy’s friendship with the local Baptist preachers and politicians she wasn’t bothered by the police. After Lucy’s death Ricks opened up five more Policy stations in “Bronzeville.”
Ricks was quickly becoming one of “Bronzeville” most respected sons, mainly because of the honesty of his policy stations and his engaging personality. The policy station also provided employment for the black people who lived in the community and paid a good wage. Although policy gambling was illegal it very seldom had any problems with the police. Judge William A. Arnold, the sitting judge at the “Wabash Court,” located on the second floor of the 2nd District Police station often criticized overly aggressive police officers that raided a policy station and arrested the patrons and the writers who were generally older people. He would summarily dismiss the case for some legal reason and was heard to tell many of the officers that his parents sent him through college on money they had earned writing policy. Ricks would often visit his stations and sit around drinking coffee or just interacting with the customers. At many of the other policy stations if a bettor was lucky enough to catch a gig, especially if it was a big gig, maybe $50.00 or more, he might not get paid because the owner of the station had booked the bet himself and didn’t turn the bet into the wheel. The owner of the station was making enough money to pay off the bet, but out of greed they wouldn’t. When the word got out that the station didn’t pay off, the people stopped coming and the station had to close. The owner of the station who was very seldom known to the player merely moved the stations a couple of blocks away and fired the old writers and hired new ones. The cheated player would go to the new station and not knowing that it was the same owner who cheated or “stiffed” them before. Ricks never stiffed any player on a winning bet, although he did book many of the bets but he had the resources to pay the winner, by booking the bets Ricks tripled his income from the stations.
Cecilia was aware of the Commander’s Club and watched as Sergeant Albert Romano entered the Commander’s office once a month carrying a large black bag. On one of these visits the sergeant stopped at her desk.
“You know you a good-looking broad and could go way up in the department if you wasn’t so snooty acting!”
Cecilia ignored the comments and continued reading reports.
“The word is you don’t take money, that’s damn crazy everybody in the district is getting their ends one way or another, why do you think we don’t get raises the mayor and everyone else know that the little they pay us can’t support a family that’s why they turn their head when it comes to cops taking money.”
Cecilia put down her report and gave the sergeant a nasty look.
“You guys do what you want but I can support myself and my son on my salary.”
The sergeant laughed and walked away. On Christmas Eve the 2nd District had their annual Christmas party at the Parkway Ballroom located at 45th South King Drive. Cecilia was talking with a few of the female officers when she overheard the Commander and Sergeant Romano who had a lot to drink talking about pressuring Ricardo Ricks to join the club.
That “That nigger thinks he’s untouchable because he’s close to all those nigger preachers and politicians that his momma was either fuckin’ or giving them a lot of money. I hear he got about five or six policy joints in the district and he won’t even talk to me,” the sergeant said downing another scotch and soda.
The commander nearly drunk responded.
“Fuck that coon sends your boys out to bust his black ass.”
“We’ve tried that but that nigger judge in Branch #38 always dismisses the charges and order all his people released.”
“I’m sure sergeant that you can find a way to scare that coon in line!”
“What if we grab that bitch Edwinna and fuck her in the ass that should get his attention.”
The commander ordered another shot of rye.
“Do what you gota do, just get him in line I’m retiring soon and I could use a bigger nest egg.”
Cecilia was shocked at the conversation, it was bad enough that the commander and sergeant were shaking down all the big wrong doers in the district now they were thinking about raping an innocent woman but what the sergeant or the commander knew was that Cecilia and Ricks grew up together and was quite an item in high school. Sergeant Romano and two of his men went to Rick’s policy station at 4916 South Forrestville. It was a warm summer afternoon. People were sitting on their porch playing cards, drinking beer and lying. The sergeant and his men were in plainclothes but everyone in the neighborhood knew they were policemen. Women sitting on the porch fanning stopped and called their children. Ricks and Sonny were sitting under a tree playing chess.
“Got a minute Mr. Ricks?”
The sergeant looked at Sonny
“Take a walk boy!”
“If you see a boy, kiss him!”
The other two officers looked threatening at Sonny.
“It’s ok Sonny.”
“I’ll be over on the porch if you need me!”
Sonny walked away and gave the two officers a gap toothy smile.
“That’s a smart ass nigger there!”
“And he can back up whatever he says!”
“We didn’t come here for any trouble Mr. Ricks but I got a message for you from the commander.”
“What’s the message?”
“The commander wants to be your friend and wants you to join our club for people we like.”
“I don’t want to join your little club, tell that to that thief.”
The sergeant smiled.
“That might be a mistake the commander can make things very
difficult for you.”
“Fuck you and the commander.”
In downtown Chicago on the fifteen floor of the Federal Building at 219 South Dearborn Street sharing space with Assistant U.S. Attorneys is a six lawyer Chicago Strike Task force, a division of the Organized Crime Section of the United States Department of Justice. At its helm was Brian Luden a black, career government lawyer in his middle forties who had successfully prosecuted organized crime cases in Louisiana and Florida. His bosses at the Department of Justice had begun to show an interest in police corrup-tion, which were rarely investigated. He had read an expose’ by the Chicago Tribune Newspaper that reported a club in many Chicago Police Districts that demanded pay-offs from tavern owners for protection. He found the story interesting but did no follow-up until the Chicago Sun-Times reported a top police commander had been transferred and demoted for failing to reduce crime in his district and his Vice Coordinator had been re-assigned to the Internal Affairs Division. The paper reported that is normal practice to assign policemen under investigation to the IID. The paper also reported that it was alleged that tavern owners were being shaken down by the police to join the Commander’s $500-a-month club.
Luden concluded that these actions could be a violation of the Hobbs Act a U.S. federal law that prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Luden reasoned that since taverns sold beer and whisky manufactured in states other than Illinois extortion of tavern owners would be a vi-olation. Luden relayed his thoughts to his boss and the head of the Organized Crime Squad of the FBI and made a formal request that the Bureau make conduct a pre-liminary investigation of the newspaper allegations. The FBI contacted the Chicago Police Department IID and requested copies of the investigative files on the com-mander and the Vice coordinator but was refused and told that the States Attorney’s Office had directed the department to withhold any reports until local indictments could be returned against the involved officers. Unknown to Luden was that the FBI had been accumulating evidence for three years against “Commander’s Clubs,” and for the first time was informed that the bureau had an informant in the 2nd District.
Luden was told by FBI Special Agent John White that the informant said that the Brown Derby Tavern located at 544 East 51st was the head quarters for fixing traffic tickets and also ran a bookie operation in the rear room he was also told that numerous taverns in the district was harassed by the district vice coordinator Sergeant Romano, one of the tavern owners had to close his business because of the large pay-off demanded. John White was white, fiftyish and had been an agent for fifteen years and was the supervisor of the FBI Anti-Corruption Unit.
Cecilia Went had enough of the Commander and Romano extortion of her people in the neighborhood she grew up in and the threats to kidnap and rape a innocent black woman, she decided to do something but what, she didn’t want to be rat. Finally she decided to call Commander Louis Watson who had a reputation as being honest and fair and they decided meet at the Country Kitchen Restaurant on the far southside of the city in a giant shopping mall. Cecilia did not know the commander except by reputation but she remembered him addressing her police graduation she saw him sitting in a back booth. The restaurant was crowded but as she looked around she didn’t see any of her co-workers. She passed a young woman trying to feed her five year old. When she approached Watson’s booth he stood and warmly shook her hand.
“You said you have some information about corruption in the 2nd District, what do you have?”
“I joined the department to help people and uphold the law but the 2nd District is so totally corrupt that it is sickening. But what really made me call you was a conversation I overheard between the commander and his bagman Sergeant Romano where they talked about kidnapping and raping a woman that works for Richardo Ricks in order to get him to pay-off.”
“Whew, did they do it?”
“No, I got work to Ricks and he got her out of town.”
“I’ve got a friend with the FBI would you be willing to talk to him and the Superintendent?”
Cecilia hesitated for a moment before saying yes. Two days later she met with Watson, O.W. Wilson, Assistant U.S. Attorney Luden and Special Agent John White in the offices of the FBI Corruption Task Force.
Special agent White asked Cecilia, “Do you know anything about a
“Commanders Club,” in the district?”
“I don’t know the specifics of how it works but the rumor are it controlled by the commander.”
“Cecilia would you be willing to work with us in an undercover capacity and set up these dishonest police officers,” Watson asked.
Cecilia though for a moment.
“You mean to become a rat?”
O.W. got out his chair and stood in front of Cecilia
“I can understand your apprehension Officer White but remember these men have betrayed their oath to serve and protect. Policing is an honorable profession. To risk your life for a loved one is understandable but a police officer risk his life for total strangers and the power of a police officer is awesome. They can deprive a person of their freedom and if necessary deprive them of their life. The public have given these powers to the police in order to do their job efficiently but at the same time the public deserve and demands restrains on police officers to prevent abuses to our democratic principles. These officers have violated that trust and should be punished. Now I’m not saying these deviant officers are evil, venal or vicious more than likely they are good family men who attend church regularly and go to their children piano recitals and ball games. They are not bad men they just did bad things and they have broken the law and don’t for a minute think that you are violating that blue code of silence it is only by honest police officers like yourself can we better serve the community we are sworn to protect.”
It wasn’t an easy decision she knew and had worked with most of the officers in the district, some had been her role models but finally she looked at the chief.
“Ok, what do I have to do?”
“Commander Watson will be your handler and he will keep me in-formed.”
The Chief of Police excused himself and left the room.
“Watson and I will be your backup if anytime you feel threatened let us know, but first I suggest is that we make sure your family is safe.”
“I read your personnel file and I understand you are divorced and have one child correct?”
“Yes, a son five years old.”...
“Cecilia this investigation could take months and could be dangerous is there anyone who can take care of your son while we are doing this? Of course all of his necessary expenses will be paid by the government.”
“My parents live in Wisconsin, I could take him there.”
“Why don’t you take your son to your parents and we’ll talk again when you get back.”
In addition to extorting thousands of dollars in pay-off from the tavern owners for his and his two other sergeants own private club sergeant Romano was putting the pressure on Ricks for the commander. His men raided his stations and arrested everyone. Policy gambling was a misdemeanor and usually on a raid the police just arrested the policy writers not the patrons who were generally older people. What really hurt Ricks were that the officers destroyed his bet writings his records of bets. This could be disastrous for a policy station because the owner did not know what numbers were bet on, but Ricks had a good reputation and rapport with his patrons of none of them tried to cheat him. Most of these raids were illegal and was thrown out once it got to court. The commander was livid that the sergeant had not been able to convince Ricks to join the club and called the sergeant into his office.
“What the fuck is going on with that coon Ricks?”
“We’ve been raiding all his spots and lockin’ up everybody, the old niggers and his writers but he still refuses!”
“What about his nigger bitch?”
“Can’t find the bitch!”
“Well, keep the pressure on his ass he’ll play sooner or later.”
Cecilia returned from Wisconsin the following week and met with Watson, Luden and White in the Federal Building.
“While you were gone we devised a strategy-up to break-up the
Commander’s Club. Now the first step is for you to get cut in on the Club and to wire you up. Can you think of any way to do that?”
“The commander is a big flirt and loves black woman, maybe I can work my charm on him.”
“Ok, keep us informed.”
White had Cecilia fitted with a high tech ultra-thin audio recorder secured to her bra. For the next two weeks Cecilia worked her magic on the commander. When-ever she entered his office she would stand very close to him and would reach across his desk letting her big breast run across his chest and smile. The commander who always kept a bottle of rye whiskey in his office was high most of the time. Cecilia and the commander were working late one night in his office during the monthly report. Cecilia was dressed in a low-cut blouse and a short mini-skirt. She was sitting across from the commander and her short skirt had risen showing her pink panties. The commander who had been drinking while Cecilia did the work couldn’t help but notice Cecilia.
“Take a break Cecilia and have a drink with me”.
Cecilia put down the report while the commander poured her a big drink.
Slurring his words the commander moved closer to Cecilia.
“You know you black women are the most sexist woman on earth.”
Cecilia took a sip of the drink and blushed.
“You’ve been a good secretary and I hope we can get closer.”
Cecilia put her drink down and pretended to cry.
“I can’t think about having a relationship with anyone now, my son is
very ill and I need money for his care, even with the insurance the medical bills are too much for me to handle.
The commander gently placed his hand on her thigh.
“Money is no problem would five hundred a month help?”
Cecilia moved closer to the commander and kissed him on his cheek, his foul body odor and the stale smell of booze almost made her sick.
“Oh, thank you Commander.”
The Commander tried to grab Cecelia but before he could she was gone. For the next six months the commander gave Cecilia five hundred dollars and tried unsuccessfully to have sex with her but she had become his confidant. The commander and Cecilia was in the commander’s office late one night when Romano entered, poured himself a drink and sat down.
“You don’t look to well sarge whatsup?”
Sergeant Romano downed his drink and slowly said, “I just been told by my doctor that I have a liver problem and I’ve got to go into the hospital, probably will be there for three or four months.”
“Damn! what will happen with the club?”
“Eppilito is a good guy he could take it over. I’ve got to go in to the hospital in two days and the collections are next week.”
“Don’t worry about the collections just get your ass well and don’t worry about anything I’ll make sure your family is taken care of. “
The sergeant poured himself another drink, downed it and left. The commander unlocked a safe and removed two lists and slid them to Cecilia.
“Cecilia I don’t like or trust Eppilito would you like to take over for the sergeant you’ll get a grand a month, interested?”
Cecilia was quiet for a moment before answering.
“I could certainly use the money my son’s medical bills are enormous.”
The commander removed two lists form a locked drawer.
“This is a list of all our friends and the good guys in the district
I take care of. Have the other two sergeants be in my office tomorrow morning so I can tell them what’s happening.”
The following morning Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski were informed of Sergeant Romano illness and that Cecelia would take his place.
“I want you two to sit down with Officer Went and get things in order, any questions?”
There were no questions and the commander returned to his office and Cecilia and the two sergeants went into Sergeant Romano office.
“The commander gave me a list of our friends and I want you two guys to make the collections, I divide the list in half.”
The list contained twenty names and the amounts to be collected every month. There were four of the largest policy wheels each was charged $5,000; Five large syndicate wire rooms were charged $2,000, six of the largest policy stations were charged $1,000, and two gambling house were $4,000 and three after-hour joints were charged $2,000. The total pay-off for the Commander’s Club was $50,000 dollars a month but the sergeants didn’t tell Cecilia about the $10,000 a month they were charging some of the taverns and night clubs in the district.
Cecilia contacted Commander Watson and told him about the latest developments
and all of the conversations with the two sergeants and the commander were recorded.
They decided to meet with Agent White and Luden at the County Kitchen restaurant in Calumet City, Illinois where she showed them the two lists.
“Good job, Cecilia, this is great!
“Now we’ve got to get evidence that the officers on the list
are actually taking money and is aware of the club.”
“When is the pay-offs?”
“Today, I’ve got Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski out
now making the collections.”
“How are the payoff made?”
“The commander told me he would take care of the Watch
Commanders, Field Lieutenants and Sergeants and I would take care of the rest. Eppilito told me that Sergeant Romano would meet each officer separately in the rear of the hardware store on 47th Street.”
“Be careful Cecilia these guys are all street-wise and
veteran police officers and can smell a set-up!”
The following morning Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski gave Cecilia two briefcases containing the pay-offs. Cecilia gave the briefcases to the commander and left his office. An hour later her called her and gave her one of the cases and a sealed envelope.
“The envelope is for you the case is for you to take care
of our friends.”
Cecilia left the office and returned to the vice room where Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski were waiting. Cecelia gave each one an envelope.
“I want you guys to meet me at the hardware store just in case
there are any problems, Ok?”
The sergeants nodded and they agreed to meet at noon. Tommy hardware store was owned by Sal Vinceti but fronted by an older black man named Tweet. Vinceti was Romano’s cousin and for allowing the pay-offs s given $300.00. Romano had contacted his cousin and told him about Cecilia.
Sal told Tweet to expect her around noon. Cecilia and arrived at 11:45 and Eppilito told her the first officer would be Officer Richard Owens and he arrived through the back door. Owens was over six feet and weighed over two hundred and fifty pounds and been on the job over fifteen year. Cecilia had worked a beat car with him a couple of times and admired him for the way he treated the people.
“Cecilia? What you’re doing here?”
“Romano in the hospital so the commander asked me to take his
“Well it’s about time you stopped being Ms. Goody Two Shoes
and got your ends, everyone else is!”
Cecilia gave him his envelope and he left. Ten minute later Officer Will Wills entered. Will was eight year veteran who mainly worked on prostitution and it was rumored that he hated prostitutes because he was a trick baby. Wills just looked at Cecilia, took his envelope and left. The exchange between Cecilia and the corrupt officers was concluded at one thirty and Cecilia and the two sergeants returned to the district and when she was entering the commander’s office a young, black woman was leaving. Cecilia noticed the commander had semen stains on his blue uniform pants and they were unzipped. The commander smiled at Cecilia, turned his back, zipped his pants and wiped his pants with a wet towel.
When he turned around Cecilia could smell the alcohol on his breath and the glassy look in his eyes and his words slurred.
“How did everything go?”
“Take the rest of the day off, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Cecilia left the office and immediately contacted Commander Watson they agreed to meet at the same restaurant in Calumet City where she told him about the pay-offs.
The officers in the district knew that Richardo Ricks was not a member of the club so they were constantly asking Ricks for money he gave some of the black officers a few dollars but refused to give anything to the white officers.
A white officer that took exception was Richard Novaksi a Polish officer who hated black people he would come into Rick’s stations scare away the patrons and take the bet writings. Ricks informed Cecilia of the constantly harassed by Sergeant Romano to join the Commander’s club and when he refused the sergeant would send in his vice men to arrest his writers and patrons and destroy his records. He also told her of the harassment by an Officer Novaksi from the district that demanded two hundred dollar month. Cecilia suggested the next time he comes in demanding a bribe give it to his but have one of your people record it on video. Cecilia notified Watson. At 8:00 P.M. Officer Novakski entered the policy station.
“Ready to ante up coon?”
“I don’t need any problems officer.”
Ricks reached into his pocket and gave the officer a hundred dollar bill. The officer took the money and placed it in his pocket. The transaction was recorded on video camera by the old man standing at the bet window.
“Good, but next month it will be two bills!”
Ricks nodded and returned to his chess game and for the next six months all of the payoffs were recorded. The following month Watson sent Sergeant Cotton and two of his detectives to Rick’s policy station and they waited in a rear room for Officer Novaksi to arrive, at 8:00 P.M. the officer in civilian dress entered.
“Put up time coon!”
Ricks gave the officer two marked one hundred bills. The officer put the money in his pocket.
“See you next month coon!”
As the officer started to leave Sergeant Cotton emerged from the room.
“Who is this coon?’
The two other officers came into the room and showed their badges.
All of us coons are police officers from the Corruption Unit and you are under arrest.
The two officers disarmed and handcuffed Novaksi. As he was being led out he looked at Ricks who smiled at him and held up a video tape.
Officer James Steele was schedule to retire in one year he was a bear of a man.
During his police career he had killed five men. All of the killings were ruled
justifiable but he was considered a little off by the other officers in the district so
he mainly worked “10-99,” one man car. Steele met Cecelia at the hardware late in
the afternoon and placed his Glock 9mm weapon on the counter in front of Cecelia.
“You know Cecelia I’ve been around a long time and
I can smell a rat. You know I once knew an officer who turned rat,
he was in the playground with his kids when all of a sudden a
masked man ran into the playground and put two in his head. That’s
what happens to rats! Everyone in the district is aware
that you don’t take money now all of a sudden you’re
the commander’s bag lady, whatsup?”
“What do you mean whatsup?”
“Are you a rat or are you fuckin’ the commander or working for the
Feds and wearing a wire?”
“It’s none of your business who I fuck and do
you think I’m a rat?”
“I’m just trying to find you out and like I said I can
smell a rat! Mind if I pat you down?”
“Go ahead and search me see if I’m wired up.”
Steele walked around Cecelia smelling her, his nose twitching like a blood hound.
He gently patted her behind her back and discreetly pattered her legs and thighs.
When he stopped the search he smiled and holstered his weapon.
“Sorry about that but I’m getting ready to retire and I don’t need anything to fuck that up. I and the wife just bought a condo in Mississippi and I can’t wait to get out of this goddamn city.”
Cecelia felt sorry for the officer for she knew he would never retire or live in his
condo. The officer ‘s search was so discreet he never search her breasts where the
wire was hidden in her bra. Sergeant Ronald Eppilito and Richard Novakski had researched the list of twenty taverns given to them by Sergeant Romano. Five of the taverns mainly on 43rd Street were real cut and shoot joints. They had numerous citations for staying opened after the 2:00 am closing time and they suspected that there had been cutting, shootings and fights in their joints but the Field Lieutenant who responded to all tavern disturbances had probably squashed the complaints for a price. Ten of the taverns had been cited for running an after-hours crap game and a hang-out for prostitutes and drug dealers the other five had no violations but had females working as barmaids that were against the law. Jimmy Pierce owned Jimmy’s Lounge a small neighborhood bar located at 5100 South Cottage Grove Avenue that catered to morning and late afternoon elderly patrons. He worked the bar and everyday put on a pot; chili, red beans and rice and on special occasions spicy Louisiana Gumbo. To keep the young people out, his juke-box had only blues records. When Sergeant Epplito entered at 2:00 pm everyone in his place knew he was the police. There were seven older men and two elderly women were sitting at the horse-shoe bar watching the African Queen on the television. Sergeant Eppilito identified himself and asked to see his state and city liquor licenses and Jimmy complied.
“Everything looks ok with your licenses but I noticed a lot of illegal parked cars in front of your joint.”
“This is a quiet street sarge and I know my customers should not park there but as you can see most of my people are elderly and it’s convenient for them but if it’s a problem I tell them to park somewhere else.”
“Do you have any problems; young people, fights, etc.”
“Aw no sarge, most of my people are drunk or broke by six and I close the joint at eight, I don’t want the hassle that comes with staying open later.”
“Well, I can provide you with police protection that way you can stay open later and make more money.”
“Thanks but no thanks sarge, I’m doing just fine.”
“There are a lot of young aggressive policemen in the district and I would hate it if they started writing parking tickets to your people or decide to make a lot of “premise checks “at your joint.”
“I would hate that too, what are you suggesting?”
“For a small fee, say two bills a month I could make all those problems disappear.”
“Sarge that would eat up most of my profit!”
“Ok, I’m just trying to help!”
Sergeant Eppilito gave Jimmy a business card.
“Ok, let me know if you change your mind.”
A week later 2nd District vice men was at Jimmy’s Lounge checking his licenses and checking the identification of his patrons. The beat officers were issuing parking tickets and scaring off his patrons. Jimmy contacted Epplito and agreed to pay a $100.00 a month. Of the ten taverns on Epplito list only five accepted his offer of protection. Tavern owners generally know each other and visit each other places especially if the tavern is having financial problems. Jimmy belonged to the Black Tavern Owners Association that had fifteen members in Chicago and had chapters in St. Louis, Milwaukee and Fort Wayne, Indiana. Once a year the Chicago Chapter would go to St. Louis, Milwaukee and Fort Wayne on a “Booze Cruise.” The tavern owners and their patrons would be driven to the various cities on a Chartered Bus and spend the week-end visiting the fifteen bars of the chapter. Each bar they visited had food waiting for them and each owner was required to spend at least $50.00 at each tavern but in addition to the fifteen bar owners there were maybe two hundred of their patrons and they spent money also. These yearly cruises could make a taverns day because later doing the year the members of the other chapters would come to Chicago. Jimmy and the other bar owners who the sergeants were shaking-down decided to report the incidents to the Commander of the Corruption Unit, Commander Watson.
Word had gotten around the district that Cecilia was “dirty,” and a lot of the officers wondered if she had became a rat to save her own ass and was setting them up. An anonymous letter was sent to the Sun-Times naming Cecilia as the Commander’s bag lady. When the letter was published Cecilia was devastated some of her closes female and male friends in the district and outside avoided her and her mother was worried. Cecilia contacted Watson.
“I’m through, this is too much!”
“Ok, Cecilia only thing we got to do to end this is gets Commander O’Shea.”
Watson, Luden and White met in the Task Force offices in the Federal building.
“That article in the Sun-Times has shook up Cecilia and she’s ready to give it up, so we’re got to move fast.”
“I doubt if Commander O’Shea ever made any collections so any evidence will have to come from other police officers. We know that Sergeant Romano was his bag man and after he got sick Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski made the collections, so we can try to turn one of them.”Luden
“Also I had a meeting with members of the Black Tavern Owners Association complaining about shake downs from the two sergeants so we got them on violating the Hobbs Act plus we have tapes of Officer Throop and Starks robbing drug dealers.” Watson said.
“Well I think we’ve got enough to convene a Grand Jury.”
“Let’s go for it!”
Since the printing of the anonymous letter Commander Watson was swamped with complains; prostitutes alleged that they had force to have sex in the squad car to prevent arrest, citizens told of being intimidated into pay-off for alleged traffic violations, drug dealers complained of being robbed by police officers, gamblers told of how they were forced into joining the commanders club and bar owners told of being forced to pay to avoid police harassment and license checks.
“We also have tapes of Officer Throop and Starks robbing drug dealers. “
We also have tapes of Officer Throop and Starks robbing drug dealers.
The duty of a grand juries is to investigate whether enough evidence of a
crime exists to bring someone to trial. Grand juries carry out this duty by
examining evidence presented to them by a prosecutor and issuing indictments,
or by investigating alleged crimes and issuing presentments. A grand jury
is traditionally larger than and distinguishable from the petit jury used during a
trial, with at least 12 jurors. A grand jury does not require a suspect be notified of
the proceedings, and grand juries can be used for filing charges in the form of
a sealed indictment against unaware suspects to be arrested later by
a surprise police visit. Grand juries consist of fifteen persons who satisfy
the qualifications of a juror. The Grand Jury consisted of seven men three black
two whites and two Hispanics. There were four white, two black women and two Hispanics women. Assistant United States Attorneys Brian Luden started preparing for the Grand Jury and examination of the witnesses. The tavern owners, gamblers and even drug dealers. Under oath the planned questioning would consist of asking each person his involvement with the Commander’s Club and to reveal any knowledge he had of corruption in the district including shake-downs of taverns, gamblers, drug dealers, etc. Commander O’Shea, Captain John Nash and Captain Ronald Royce Watch Commanders, Field Lieutenants Hollis Wills and William Hicks, Beat Sergeants Duaral Hollis, Dennis Tykes, Angelo Williamson, James Louis, Thomas Ryan, Reginald Hill. Of the twelve police officers in the Vice Unit only Sergeants Romano, Eppilito and Novakski and vice men Clyde Owens, Claude Wills, Henry Stone, Anthony Duggan, Willie Hillary, John Steele, James Alexander and Leonard Skins were all indicted and charged with violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows for the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them, closing a perceived loophole that allowed someone who told a man to, for example, murder, to be exempt from the trial because they did not actually do it. Owens, Wills, Stone, Duggan, Hillary, Steele, Alexander where part of the club and were all indicted and arrested except Sergeant Romano. Commander O’Shea visited Romano at his home. The sergeant was in the bed breathing oxygen.
“How you feeling?”
“Not good the doc said I had liver cancer and it don’t look good. Whatsup I heard we have been indicted?”
“Lot of bullshit, they are just searching for something, you know the fuckin’ feds they get their nuts off fuckin’ with the police.
“You talked with any of the other guys?”
“Naw, they’re scattered all over the place and the Watch “Commanders, lieutenants and some sergeants and patrolmen have been indicted. Some were reassigned to IID and other places,”
“I got a call from that nigger Watson he wanted me to come into for an interview but I told him I was too sick and couldn’t make it.”
“Fuck them cocksuckers; I contacted my lawyer, fuckem!”
Prior to the opening of the trial Luden decided to interview Officer James Steele who was on audio and video tape accepting pay-off from Cecilia and was schedule to retire in one year. In his office Watson, FBI agent White and Luden met with Officer Steele. Watson recalled that he had worked with Steele in the 3rd District years ago.
“Whatsup, Louis what is this all about?”
“It’s about taking dirty money Jimmy and the Commander’s Club!”
“What’s that got to do with me?”
“Officer Steele we have you on audio and video taking pay-offs at the hardware store,” Luden said.
The officer bit his lips and starting sweating.
“We’re offering you a way to help yourself.”
“What do you want me to do?”
Tell us everything you know about the Commander’s Club! Watson answered.
“You mean to become a rat?”
“If that’s what you want to call it!” White said.
The officer look pleading at Watson, tears were forming.
“Louis I due to retire at the end of the years!”
In a quiet voice Watson said.
“If you cooperate with us, I can grant you immunity, it will keep you out of the penitentiary.”Luden said
“What about my pension?”
“That will be up to O.W.,” Watson said.
Preparing for the trial was tedious, Luden had two assistants a young very pretty black woman named Silvia Rooks and a young white man, Hosea Sanders. Not only was it necessary to prep Officers Steele and Eppilito so they would be able to relate to the jury the pattern of corruption in the district but the owners of the taverns had to be prepared and he had knew the defense attorneys would claim that they’re clients were entrapped. Luden knew he had to be careful of overkill, presenting too much evidence and too many witnesses. His entire case depended on convincing the jury that there was widespread corruption in the 2nd Police District and O’Shea knew and participated in it. On a hot and humid day on 5 June 1970 the trial started. Judge Judith Campbell would preside over the trial. Judge Campbell was a small black woman that grew up in Meridian, Mississippi. Her father worked as a mail carrier and her mother was a housewife. Judith was an excellent student and received a scholarship to Harvard where she graduated with honors from its law school. After law school she worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Fifth District that included her home state and successfully prosecuted members of the Mississippi State Police convicted of shaking down female drivers for money and sex. Five years later she was appointed a federal judge by the President of the United States. Judge Campbell was highly respected by lawyers and federal prosecutors for her fairness and business-like manner but they knew she wouldn’t tolerate distortion of the evidence by either side. She denied a request from one of the defense attorneys that Chicago Police Department Rule #51 that stated that any officer who took the Fifth Amendment could be suspended or discharged from the department. The judge also ruled over the objections of the defense attorneys that since was a conspiracy case the defendants would be tried together. The jury selection did not pose any problems and lasted a week. Relatives or friends of police officers or tavern owners were excluded. The jury was a mixture of men and women, city dwellers and people that lived in the suburbs and blue and white-collar workers. The jury consisted of five black men, two black women, four white men and one Chinese-American and four alternates. The trial was held in the Seventh District Court located on the fourteenth floor in Room 1404 of the Federal Building. Room 1404 had a high ceiling and dimly lit. Counsel, jury and spectators were separated by an enclosed area for the court reporters, marshal and clerk. The seats in the rear or gallery were reserved for court watchers, friends and relatives of the defendants. Court artists were there to sketch the main events and main characters for the evening news and reporters sat ready to record every important word. All of the defendants were plainly and neatly attired but Commander O’Shea retained noted criminal lawyer Nolan Swan a veteran criminal defense lawyer from New York, a former Assistant United States Attorney and a graduate of Yale Law School. Nolan was a tall, lean, grey haired man who conveyed confidence.
The two Watch Commanders, lieutenants, sergeants, vice officer and patrolman had retained local attorneys and sat together at the defendants table. The court was informed that Sergeant Romano had been hospitalized and according to his doctor’s was too ill to attend the proceedings. Luden, White, Watson, Rooks, Sanders sat at the prosecution table. Luden called his first witness Officer Steele entered, was sworn in and sat down.
“Will you state your name, age and occupation please?”
“James Steele, fifty-one and I’m a Chicago Police Officer.”
“Officer Steele are you familiar with the Commander’s
Club in the 2nd Police District?”
“Will you tell this jury what the commander’s Club is
and how it operates?”
“The Commander’s Club is controlled by the District
Commander that receives money from illegal operations in
“What type of illegal operations would be part of the
“Large policy wheels and syndicate wire rooms, large policy
stations and after-hour joints.”
“Were you a part of the Commander’s Club?”
Steele took a sip of water.
“How much was you paid as a member of the club?”
“Two hundred and fifty dollars a month.”
“What was your assignment in the 2nd District police station?”
“I was assigned to the vice unit.”
“What were your duties?”
“I investigated vice complaints, gambling, prostitution, narcotics and liquor law violations, but I mainly dealt with gamblers.”
“How were you paid off and by whom?”
“I was paid off once a month at a hardware store in the district and at first it was the Vice Coordinator Sergeant Romano but he got sick and Officer Cecilia Went took his place.”
“Thank you Officer Steele.”
Steele left the stand and the judge called a ten minute recess. When they returned to the court room all concerned were informed by the Court Security Officer that the judge had adjourned the trial until tomorrow morning at eight. As he was leaving the court room Watson looked at the family of the defendants. Their mothers, sisters and wife were wiping tears away. All of the indicted officer’s family members and friends were seated in the visitor’s gallery. What a shame he thought these police officers had dishonored not only their badge but their family. When Watson returned to his office he felt sorry for the officers who were trial he knew that they were not rapist or murderers they had just been caught up in the culture of corruption not only in the 2nd District but throughout the city from the city counsel to the building inspectors and he doubted that even if these police officers were convicted and sent to prison nothing would anything change. He met with Luden and White in the Task Force Office.
“Steele told it like it is and his compelling testimony describing corruption in the district will prepare the jury for the coming testimony. I think it now time to contact Eppilito he’s married with two children, a son six and a daughter nine, we may be able to turn him, he’s got more to lose than Richard Novakski.”
“Suggestion in addition to being a member of the club they were also trying to shake-down taverns, why not call some tavern owners first?”
“Good call, I’ll subpoena Jimmy Pierce!”
The following day the trial resumed and Luden called Jimmy Pierce. Jimmy was a handsome man over six feet tall, dark skinned and had a deep baritone voice and a certain bearing. After being sworn in he took the stand.
“Will you state your name age and occupation?”
“Jimmy Pierce, fifty-two and I own a tavern on Cottage Grove Avenue.”
“How long have you owned the tavern Mr., Pierce?”
“Have you ever been arrested Mr. Pierce?”
“Have you ever had any license violations or troubles at your bar?”
“Have you ever been approached by Chicago Police officers for pay-offs?”
“Can you relate to the jury what happened?”
“About six months ago a plainclothes police officer came into my joint and identified himself as Sergeant Eppilito of the vice squad. He checked my licenses and told me that some of my customer’s cars were parked illegal. I told him that this was a quiet street with little traffic no house and most of my people were elderly and it’s convenient for them to park in front, but if it’s a problem I tell them to park somewhere else. He asked me if I had any problems; young people, fights, etc. I told that most of my people are drunk or broke by six and I close the joint at eight and I don’t want the hassle that comes with staying open later. He told me that he could provide me with police protection and that I could stay open later and make more money. I told him no thanks. He went on to say that there are a lot of young aggressive policemen in the district and they may start writing parking tickets to your people or decide to make a lot of “premise checks “at your joint that could endanger my liquor licenses. So I asked him what did he want and he said for two bills a month he could make all those problems disappear. I told him that would eat up most of my profit. The sergeant left and gave me his business card and told me call him if I changed my mind.”
“Was that the end of it?”
“No sir, a couple of days later every night vice officers were in my joint checking my licenses and checking the identification of his patrons and the beat officers were issuing parking tickets. Like I said most of my customers were elderly and scared of the police, so I contacted the sergeant and agreed to a bill a month.”
“Did the harassment stop?”
“I understand you are a member of an association.”
“Yes sir, the Black Tavern Owners Association and I found out that he and another sergeant was shaking down other owners who were in the association and we decided to contact the Commander Watson.”
“How many of you and you and your fellow tavern owners complained to Watson.”
“Well there were six of us who were paying off Sergeant Epplito and there seven others who were paying off a Sergeant Novakski, I never met him.”
“What are the other six owner’s names and their tavern location that Sergeant Eppilito was extorting and who were the other owners being shaken down by Sergeant Novakski?”
“Me and William Walls on east 43rd Street, Ralph Johnson on 43rd Street, Oliver Woods at 53rd State, Ada Fambro at 55th Wabash, Angelo Rings and Lorine Smith on east at 47th Street. I don’t know their exact addresses. Jimmy Prentiss and Robert Wilson on east 61st Street, Claude Forman on 59th Street, Betty Willson on east 55th and Tommy Wilson on east 51st Street all told me they were paying Sergeant Novakski $300.00 a month .”
“Thank you Mr. Pierce.”
Jimmy Pierce testimony was supported by three of his customers. For the next three days Luden called all the tavern owners to testify named by Jimmy. They testified that they had been paying-off Sergeant Eppilito. Back at his office Luden consulted with White and Watson and they decided to call Sergeant Eppilito in for an interview. Sergeant Eppilito was concerned and scared. He had heard rumors about and FBI and police department investigation in the district but no one had any additional information. He was waiting in e Luden’s office when Luden, Watson and White entered and identified themselves.
“Sergeant we had evidence that you and Sergeant Richard Novakski has been extorting money from tavern owners in the 2nd District in violation of the Hobbs Act.”
“That’s a lie!”
“Let’s not play word games sergeant we have sworn affidavits from tavern owners and their testimony at the Grand Jury concerning being extorted by you and your partner, now if you want to play games remember that violating the Hobbs Act is federal crime punishable by twenty years in a federal pen, now do you want to continue to play games or can we talk.”
The sergeant shifted in his seat, removed a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped his brow.
“The Hobbs act that’s federal right? What do you want from me?”
“I’ll be straight-up with you, you’re going to be indicted and if you decide to go trial you will be convicted and probably be sentenced to ten or fifteen years and remember federal time is different from state time. You will have to do eighty-five percent of your time before you can try for parole. We want Commander O’Shea we know all about his Commander’s Club and we know that you was getting some of the money, if you cooperate maybe the judge will give you probation, it’s up to you!”
“If I had known that taking money from taverns owners was a federal crime I never would have done it. Probation that mean I will lose my job.”
“Yes, you will be fired but you won’t be in jail, but like the attorney said it’s up to you!”
Think it’s time to go after the others? Luden asked.
“Let’s go!” White and Watson responded.
Who’s your next witness? Watson asked.
Sergeant Eppilito was nervous as he took the stand. He looked at his wife, mother, sister and two brothers that were sitting in the back row of seats. After giving his personal information, Luden begin his examination.
“Sergeant has you pleaded guilty to violating the Hobbs Act and will you allocate to the court your involvement in the charges?”
There were tears in his eyes as he answered yes! The judge turned to the jury.
“In law to allocate means "to speak out formally." In law, it is generally meant to state specifically and in detail what one did and for what reason, often in relation to commission of a crime. Allocution is required of a defendant who pleads guilty to a crime in a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence. In this instance, allocution can serve to provide closure for victims or their families. In principle, it removes any doubt as to the exact nature of the defendant's guilt in the matter. The right of victims to speak at sentencing is also sometimes referred to as allocution.”
“Sergeant what was your assigned in the 2nd District.”
“I was assigned to the Vice Unit and supervised the day shift.”
“Sergeant have you ever heard of the Commander’s Club and if so were you a part of it?”
“How did the club work?”
“Certain policy wheels, wire rooms, gambling houses payed a certain amount of money for protection against raids and arrests.”
“Who was the bag-man that collected the pay-offs?”
“At first it was the Vice Coordinator Sergeant Romano but he got sick and was replaced by Officer Went she directed me and Sergeant Novakski to make the collections.”
“What did you and Sergeant Novakski do with the money you collected?”
“We gave it to Officer Went.”
“Do you know what she did with the money?”
“No further questions, your witness.”
The two police officers testimony was so direct there was little the defense could do. As he was leaving the witness stand Sergeant Novakski mouthed “Rat.” Commander O’Shea had his head down.
Court was adjourned and Luden, White and Watson stopped at Berghoff for dinner.
Who’s your next target? White asked.
That arrogant asshole Sergeant Novakski. I think he thinks this a joke I watched him smirking during Eppilito testimony and I saw him mouth rat when Eppilito walked pass. Watson I want you to send out your guys and see if we can get any of the owners that were paying off Novakski to testify.
Sergeant Cotton visited Ronald Prentiss who owned the Kitty Cat Club located at 440 East 61st Street and identified himself. Jimmy was a plain looking man in his early fifties, tall and stocky and acted like a typical bar owner friendly and outgoing. It was a small tavern with a horse-shoe bar that contained only eight bar stools and two color television sets were at each end of the bar. Two beat-up booths sat on one of the walls. Ronald introduced Cotton to his wife, Jean who were behind the bar washing glasses and talking to two young men.
“Do you know a Sergeant Novakski?”
“Yeah, I met him once or twice!”
“Well the sergeant has been arrested and is on trial for shaking down taverns and we have information that you were one of the taverns did he ever threaten you or demand money?”
Prentiss looked at wife who had moved closer to the two men.
“Let’s talk in the booth!”
They moved to one of the booths and sat.
“Sarge I don’t want any trouble with the police me and my wife work hard just too barely make a living in this joint, but it’s all we have. I’ve got COPD and my wife have a heart problem, if we lose this joint we’ll be out on the streets and you know how the police can fuck with a bar owner.”
“I need you to testify at the sergeant’s trial and help put an end to this police harassment and shakedowns! And believe me no police officers will be within a mile of this place because they know you a stand-up guy and not some scared nigger they can push around. The two young men left and Jeans joined them in the booth.”
“Whatsup up Ric?”
“It’s about that thieving sergeant who been fuckin’ with us, he’s been arrested and the sarge hear wants me to testify against him.”
“You testify and we’ll have every fuckin’ police in the district fuckin’ with us!”
Prentiss rubbed his hands.
“You’re probably right but I’m tired of bein treated like a nigger on the plantation. That mutherfuckin’ sergeant would’ve put us out of business we can’t afford to keep paying him two hundred a month fuckit, I’ll testify.”
Cotton thanked Prentiss and his wife.
“In the next couple of days the sheriff will bring you a subpoena.”
Robert Wilson tavern the Sports Bar and Grill was across the street from Prentiss’s and much larger and nicer. It had a long deep mahogany bar that seated at least twenty people and had two big screens television behind the bar and three big screens of the walls. It was 2:00 pm but the bar was full of men and women some dancing other talking and drinking. Wilson was a frail man in his sixties with grey hair and beard. Cotton identified himself and Robert led him into his office.
“Whatsup sarge, I’ve paid my dues for the month.”
“I’m not here to collect any dues Robert, I’m here to tell you that the sergeant who’s been extorting you have been arrested and on trial in a federal court. I need you to testify against him so we can stop these crooked hunkies and put their white asses in jail where they belong. With you and other bar owners help we can rid our community of these parasites that feed on our people. By the way how much were you being shook down for?”
“Five hundred a month, but I could afford it I’m doing pretty well here!”
“Maybe you are but what about Richard across the street or other bar owners in your association that are not doing as well as you?”
Robert poured a shot Jack Daniels.
“What do you want me to do?”
“Come to court and testify!”
“Let me know when and where.”
The men shook hands. Cotton’s next stop was Juanita’s Lounge located at 4305 South Prairie Avenue. Juanita Johns was a big, light brown skinned woman who lived upstairs over the bar and had owned the bar for twenty years. She told Cotton how Sergeant Novakski had solicited a four hundred dollar a month payment for the Commander’s Club and when she refused vice officers from the district began harassing her and her customers. She agreed to the pay-off after she was set-up by the sergeant who sent a young black woman who looked to be about twenty-five into her tavern. She found later that she was really seventeen. Moments after the young woman left the sergeant two of his men and the young woman came in and she identified herself as being a high school junior. The sergeant took her to the station and threatens to lock her up for serving a minor and notify the State and City License Bureau of the violation so I payed him off. Juanita agreed to testify but owners Claude Forman owned the Inn located on 59th Street and Betty Willson who owner Betty’s Joint on east 55th and Tommy Wilson that owned Tommy’s refused to testify they were too scared of police repercussions. Cotton told Watson and Luden about the new witnesses against Ronald Prentiss and Richardo Ricks involvement with Sergeant Romano.
The following morning court resumed and Luden called Ronald Prentiss to the stand and het answered all the preliminary questions.
“Mr. Prentiss did you have a conversation with a police sergeant in your place of business?”
“Do you know that sergeant’s name and is he in court today?”
Prentiss looked and pointed at the defense table to Sergeant Novakski who was smirking.
“His name is Sergeant Novakski!”
“What was the conversation about?”
“He told me if I wanted to avoid problems with the police it would cost me two hundred dollars a month! I told him that I had COPD and my wife had heart problems that didn’t matter to him all he wanted was the money.”
“Did you pay him that?”
“Yes, for seven months I paid him and it nearly put me out of business, but I know the trouble the police can cause with your liquor licenses.”
Was anyone else privy to these pay-offs?
“Yes, my wife Jean.”
“Thank you Mr. Prentiss.
Jean Prentiss took the stand and corroborated her husband’s testimony. Sergeant Novakski attorney had no questions. Luden next witness was Robert Wilson.
“Mr. Wilson do you own the Sports Bar and Grill located at 445 East 61st Street?”
“Do you recognize anyone in this court room that demanded money from you?”
“Can you point him out?”
Wilson pointed to Sergeant Novakski.
“Mr. Wilson will you explain to the jury your conversations with Sergeant Novakski?”
“The sergeant and two other officers came into my joint one afternoon sat at the bar and ordered drinks. We exchanged greetings and he identified himself and asked me if I had any problems. I told him I had a 4:00 P.M. and after the other taverns closed at 2:00 P.M. I got the overflow and because of the limited parking on the street my people had to park in a no parking spot and they were getting ticketed by the beat cop. Also I was having a slight problem with the youngsters who were always standing around. Plus the beat officers was always coming in usually on week-ends when it was busy accusing me of being opened after hours which I wasn’t, I would give them a few bucks and they would leave. Sergeant Novakski told me that he could take care of all these problems for five hundred a month.”
“Did you agree?”
“Yes, I paid him for a year!”
“Did he take care of the problem?”
“Heck no, my people were still being ticketed, the hoodlums still hung in front of my joint and the beat officers were still harassing me about running after-hours. I didn’t get nothing for the money I was paying!”
Your witness Luden said to Novakski lawyer. He had no questions. The judge recessed the trial for lunch and Luden, White and Watson went to his office.
“I’ve got two more witnesses to call; Juanita Johns and Debbie Stewart the young girl he sent in to set up Juanita.
Court resumed at 1:00 P.M. and Luden and the defense attorney’s were summoned into the judge’s chambers.
“Mr. Luden, attorneys for Beat Sergeants Hollis, Tykes, Williamson, Louis, Ryan and Hill have withdrawn their plea of not guilty and have entered a guilty plea, these defendants will be eliminated from the proceedings.”
Watson watched with sadness as the sergeants were removed from the court in handcuffs by United States Marshalls and he watched their weeping relatives and friends, what a shame he said to himself. Their attorneys gathered their belonging and left the court room and the attorneys for the other defendant took their seats, informed their clients what had happened and the judge took the bench. The Court Security Officer called the court to order.
“Is the prosecution ready to call its next witness?”
“Yes your honor the prosecution calls Juanita Johns!”
Juanita entered the court room wearing a black business pants suit was sworn and took a seat.
“Mrs. Johns do you own Juanita’s Lounge on south Prairie Avenue?”
“Yes, I do! Do you recall an incident when you were arrested by Sergeant Novakski?”
“Will you tell the court about the circumstances leading to your arrest?”
Juanita sat back in the chair and took a sip of water.
“On several occasions the sergeant had approached me about joining a club he called the Commander’s Club that would prevent any problems with the police and I had any problems that could endanger my liquor licenses he could take care of it and it would only cost me four hundred dollars a month. I told him that firstly I ran a clean join and was worried about my liquor licenses so I refused but every month he kept coming around asking if I had changed my mind when I told him no I didn’t hear from his for a couple of weeks. It was a busy night had a lot of customers, people were dancing, drinking and having a good time I was working the bar. A young attractive woman came in, sat at the bar and ordered a rum and coke which I served her. She was nicely dresses and look to be about twenty-five. After she finished her drink she paid me and left. Ten minutes later Novakski entered with three uniformed police officers, the young woman and told me she was seventeen and I was arrested for serving alcohol to a minor. He ordered everyone out and arrested and handcuffed me behind my back. They put the cuffs on too tight and they really hurt. Anyway the sergeant took my keys, turned out the lights, locked my joint up, put me in his car and drove me to the police station.”
“What happened at the police station?
“He removed the handcuffs and said he was sorry about them being put on too tight and took me into an empty room and told me that serving liquor to minors was a serious offense and I would be probably receive a heavy fine and could have my liquor licenses suspended or revoked but he said he could make all that go away if I joined the club, so I did and he drove me back to my joint and I gave him five hundred bucks and I have been paying him that for over a year, he s a dirty mu…………
Luden cut her off before she could say anything else.
“Thank you Mrs. Johns, your witness!”
Again there were no questions from Novakski lawyer. As Juanita left the stand she gave Novakski a dirty look and the finger.
Watson and White looked at the sergeant who was squirming in his seat and whispering to his lawyer. Debbie Stewart definitely looked like a fully grown woman, she was well developed with a large bust. She was sworn in and took the stand.
“Ms. Stewart how old is you?”
“I just turned nineteen.”
“Calling your attention back a couple of years ago where you approached by a police officer and told you to go into Juanita’s Lounge and order a drink?”
“Can you identify the police officer who told you to do that?”
“Yes, he’s sitting over there at that table.”
“Let the record reflect your honor that the witness has identified Sergeant Novakski.”
“So noted!” the judge said.
“Tell the court how you met Sergeant Novakski.”
“Me, my two girl friends and a couple of guys were in Washington Park just hanging out. We had a couple of six-packs of beer and we were smoking a joint when all of a sudden two plainclothes officers busted us. They told us to stay in the car and in a few minutes this other officer drove up and identified himself as Sergeant Novakski. We were all scared shitless when he told us he was going to lock our asses up. All of a sudden he looked at me for a long time, I was getting scared I had heard how some officers forced girls to have sex to avoid getting arrested I thought he was some of sex freak especially when he told me to get into his car.”
“What happened after you got into the car?”
“He asked me how old I was and I told him I was seventeen. He said you look a lot older than seventeen. I showed my Student card from DuSable High School that had my date of birth. He then asked me if I wanted to help myself and my friends and I said sure what did I have to do and he told me that all I had to do was go into this bar, order a drink, pay for it and leave and afterwards me and my friends would be cut loose. So I agreed, the officer drove me to the bar gave me five dollars and I went in and did as he said and came out. He called some uniform cops they took me back into the bar and arrested the woman who sold me the drinks. We came back outside and he cut me loose.”
“Why did you decide to come forward?”
“I told my girlfriends what happened and one of their cousins worked at the lounge and she told me that the cops were using me to set the bar up. She also told me how the owner was a good person and helped a lot of people in the hood. One of my girlfriend’s mother boy friend is a cop and he told me I should contact the police corruption unit and tell them about the set-up I did and I was interviewed by Sergeant Cotton from the unit.”
“Thank you, Ms Stewart.”
The judge adjourned court for the day and stated that there was some court business she had to attend to and court would resume in three days. Luden, White and Watson returned to Luden’s office.
“That should do it for that sergeant as far as the Hobbs Act is concerned those last two witnesses did it for him,” Luden said.
“Now it’s time to go after the big fish, Commander O’Shea and Sergeant Romano!”
“We know that O’Shea wasn’t making the collections and we really don’t have any direct evidence that he was distributing the money to the other officers in the club. Cecilia recorded him saying that he would take care of the captains, lieutenants and sergeants but that’s all!” Watson said.
“Think we can turn one of the captains?” White asked.
“We can try! Luden answered.
“What if we went after Romano he’s the key to this whole thing.”
“Any word of his condition?” Luden asked.
“According to Sergeant Cotton he’s at Ingalls Hospital in Harvey but is expected to be released in a few days.”
“I’ll contact the US Marshalls and have them arrest his ass when he leaves the hospital, let’s save him for last and concentrate on the captains.”
“OK, I’ve got copies of their personnel file.”
Watson removed the personnel file of Captain John Nash.
“John Nash, fifty three, married with three sons all Chicago Police officers, twenty-three years on the job. No disciplinary record and good evaluation reports. Captain Royce, fifty-nine, married, a son and a daughter and five grandkids, been on the job thirty-three years, former District Commander of the 21st Districts demoted and suspended for being drunk on duty, submitted is retirement papers and due to retire next year.”
“Let’s go after him, I’ sure he’s concerned about his retirement. I’ll contact his attorney for a conference.”
The following day at 8:00 A. M. the Captain Royce and his attorney Clarence Weinberg met with Luden, White and Watson in Luden‘s office. Captain Royce was over six feet, muscular and handsome and had an air of authority. He towed over his frail Jewish attorney.
“What’s up Mr. Prosecutor?”
“I think you know based on the evidence that we have presented so far that we have a strong case and your client and the others will be found guilty……”
Luden was cut off by the captain that stood up and in a loud authoritative voice.
“I thought that was for the jury to decide!”
Weinberg motioned for the captain to sit down and Luden continued.
“I’ll get right to the point. I know that your client is planning on retiring next year, if he get convicted not only will he lose his retirement but will go to jail.
“What are you offering?”
“What does he have to do?”
“Testify against O’Shea and Romano!”
The captain jumped to his feet again.
“You mean become a rat?”
“Listen captain, you’ve been on the job for a long time. Think of the embarrassment to your family if you are convicted, lose your pension and is sent to prison, is your loyalty to O’Shea more than them.” Watson asked.
The captain sat down.
“What are you offering besides immunity?”
“We’ll drop the Rico charges against the captain and he can retire.”
“Can I think this over?”
“Yes, you have until the court resumes, after that the deal is off.”
The captain and his lawyer left the office.
“What you think, will he’ll accept the deal?”
“He really doesn’t have a choice. I don’t think he wants to go to prison for O’Shea!” Watson said.
A day before the trial resumed Weinberg called and said that the captain had agreed. Luden began preparing the immunity application for the captain. When court resumed Luden, Captain Royce and Weinberg appeared before the judge and presented the application, which she accepted and the immunity offer was entered. The judge addressed the jury.
“One of the defendants in this case has been granted immunity. I’ll explain what this means; Immunity from prosecution occurs when a prosecutor grants immunity, usually to a witness in exchange for testimony or production of other evidence. It is immunity because the prosecutor essentially agrees to never prosecute the crime that the witness might have committed in exchange for said evidence. Are you ready to proceed, Mr. Prosecutor?
“Yes, your honor and we call Ronald Royce!”
As Royce was being sworn and took the witness stand Watson watched O’Shea and the other officers. O’Shea was stirring uncomfortably in his chair and whispering to his attorney while the other defendants twisted in their seats.
“Will you state your name, rank and assignment please?”
“Ronald Royce, Chicago Police Captain, assigned as a Watch Commander in the 2nd District.”
“Was your commander in the 2nd District Commander O’Shea?”
“Are you familiar with a Commander’s Club that operated in the 2nd District?”
“I’ve heard of it.”
“Did you ever receive any monies from the Commander O’Shea?
“I received three hundred dollars a month I never asked and was never told where the money came from.”
“Who gave you the money?”
“At first it was the Vice Coordinator Sergeant Romano but he got sick and for the last six months I got the money from Commander O’Shea.”
“Thanks you captain, your witness!”
There wasn’t a cross-examination from the defense attorneys as court was adjourned for the weekend. Watson returned to his office and met with Sergeant Cotton.
“Romano was released today from the hospital and soon as he was wheeled out he was arrested by the Marshalls, I left a message for Luden. He’s being held at the MCC and will be brought to court Monday.”
When court resumed Sergeant Romano and his attorney sat at the table with his boss. Before opening the trial Judge Campbell summoned all the attorneys to her chambers.
“I’ve been informed by the attorneys for Captain John Nash, Lieutenants Hollis Wills and William Hicks, Beat Sergeants Duaral Hollis, Dennis Tykes, Angelo Williamson, James Louis, Thomas Ryan, Reginald Hill and officers Clyde Owens, Claude Wills, Henry Stone, Anthony Duggan, Willie Hillary, John Steele, James Alexander and Leonard Skins that they have changed their plea to guilty and will allocate, is that correct gentlemen?”
All of the attorneys nodded yes. When they returned to court Watson again was sad when the officers were led out by the Marshalls in handcuffs and he heard the muffled cries of their families. Only O’Shea and Romano, attached to a portable oxygen tank, and their attorneys remained at the defense table. Judge Campbell recessed the court until tomorrow morning. Luden, White and Watson returned to Luden’s office. Luden opened a cabinet and retrieved a decanter of Remy Martin VSOP.
“This decanter was given to me when I was clerking for a Supreme Court Justice after I was appointed to the US Attorney’s Office and I have kept it locked-up for years and have saved it for a special occasion, this is that occasion.”
The three men sat and enjoyed a glass of the very expensive cognac but Watson felt no elation as he thought about the convicted fellow police officers and their families.
“Well only O’Shea and Romano are left!”
Court resumed the following morning and Judge Campbell instructed the jury that the following witnesses were granted immunity and none of their testimony could be used against them. Luden’s first witness was Charlie Wilson.
“Will you state your name, age and business?”
“Charlie Wilson, 43, and I own the Windy City, Chicago and Indiana Policy Wheel.”
“So you take gambling wagers, correct?”
“Where does your policy wheel operate?”
“All over the city but mainly on the southside in the 2nd Police district.
“Will you describe to the court how a policy wheel work?”
“The policy wheel is like the big brother to the policy station.
The opening of a policy wheel required a large financial investment; runners and field men had to be hired and sometimes the owner had to “front” or loan the money for the men to purchase vehicles. The owner have to rent or buy apartments; one to be used as a money office, one to be used as the paper office and one to be used for the “Can” or wheel, where the winning numbers were drawn. They had to rent another apartment for the printing press and they had to hire a printer to print the drawings. Additionally, they have to purchase the paper used for the drawings. All of these people, except the owner of the paper company are employees of the wheel and salaried. In addition to these expenses, there are the police and political payoffs for protection against police raids and favorable legislation. You keep your customers happy by treating them with dignity and respect. Most of the customers are older people and housewives who played policy for so long, that they think its legal, but we also have schoolteachers, ministers, area businessmen and local politicians as customers, all hoping to hit the big payout. The policy station contained a large table with pencils and slips of scratch paper, which the bettors used to record their wagers. I insist my stations are always clean, comfortable and the bettors felt at ease. On one wall there is trough like racks, which hold the policy slips, or drawings that contained the winning numbers, for the policy wheels the station write bets for. There is a sign painted underneath each opening in the racks,” AM,” “PM” and “MIDNIGHT,” on top of each opening is the name of the wheel: the Honey Babe and Twin; the Baltimore, Ohio and New York; the Windy City, Michigan and Chicago; and the Mississippi, New Orleans and Texas are the most popular. A small blackboard sits beside the racks that contained the lucky or hot numbers and a dream book, which an alleged fortuneteller dreamed up. The dream book would tell a player what number to bet based on his or her dreams. The bettors used the dream book to translate dreams, bodily functions, names and events into a set of three numbers. On another table are four worn large black scrapbooks that contained the glued drawings for the last thirty days for each wheel. The drawings are for references and used by patrons in determining their daily plays, The policy station is a meeting place for the older people in the neighborhood who hang around drinking coffee, eating donuts provided by the station and gossiping after placing their bets. Most policy players were unemployed and received some type of welfare check. The merchants and the currency exchanges charged a fee for cashing the check but a smart station owner would cash the welfare checks of his players, free of charge, he knew that they would probably play most of in his station.”
“Thank you Mr. Wilson that was very interesting now have you ever heard of a Commander’s Club and were you a member?”
“How much were your membership “dues?”
“Five thousand dollars a month,”
The jury and the court watchers gasped.
“Business must be pretty good!
Wilson smiled showing a mouth full of gold teeth.
“How were your “dues,” paid?”
“Every 10th of the month Sergeant Romano met me and I paid my dues but I heard he got sick and another police officer would collect, I don’t his name.”
“What were these dues for”
“I didn’t have to worry about my runners being arrested and their vehicles being confiscated and I didn’t have to worry about raids on my operations.”
“Is the person you paid your “dues,” to in this courtroom?”
“Yes, he’s sitting at the table with the oxygen.”
“Let the record reflect the witness has identified Albert Romano!”
“Thank You, your witness.
Antony Carmin Curso was a regular in the federal court and was considered a “mob lawyer” that had represented members of the Chicago Crime Outfit. Curso looked like the gangsters portrayed in old crime movies. He was fiftyish, short, maybe five-feet two and frail looking. His wavy silver-grey hair was perfectly cut and he wore an expensive off-grey suit and matching accomplishment. With an unexpected strong voice he approached the witness.
“Good afternoon Mr. Wilson!”
“Good afternoon counselor!”
“Under direct examination you admitted to running an illegal operation and granted immunity to testify is that correct?”
“Isn’t it a fact sir that you contacted Sergeant Romano my client and begged him to let you in the club?”
“Isn’t it a fact sir that you entrapped my client?”
“I don’t know what that means!”
Curso looked at Judge Campbell.
“For the befit of the witness and the jury I will define Entrapment. In criminal law, entrapment is conduct by a law enforcement agent inducing a person to commit an offense that the person would otherwise have been unlikely to commit.] In many jurisdictions, entrapment is a possible defense against criminal liability. However, there is no entrapment where a person is ready and willing to break the law and the government agents merely provide what appears to be a favorable opportunity for the person to commit the crime”
“Do you understand what entrapment now?”
“I’ll repeat my question. Isn’t it a fact sir that you entrapped my client?”
“Let’s continue, have you paid off other policemen for protection?”
“So bribing police officer was a common practice to you?”
“That’s the price you have to pay to stay in business!”
“In direct examination you said that your monthly dues was five grand a month, correct.”
“That’s a lot of money you must be making a lot of money sixty thousand a year from your illegal gambling operation. How much do you estimate that you earn from your illegal activities a year?”
“I have no idea!”
“Would a million sound reasonable?”
“If you say so!”
“Do you file that amount on your Income Taxes?”
“No further questions!”
Wilson left the stand and the court room. For the next week Luden called Jimmy Winstead owner of the B&O Policy Wheel, Cubbie Cole owner of the Honey Babe and Twin Policy wheel and Johnny Coleman owner of the Westside, Northside and Eastside Policy Wheel. Luden also called Clyde Turner managing operator of the five largest syndicate wire-rooms in the district; Cookie George and “Palm’em,”Jackson that operated the largest skin, dice and poker houses in the district and Flucky Wills that operated three after-hours joint in the district They all were granted immunity and testified that they were members of the Commander’s Club and paid monthly “dues,” to Sergeant Romano and later to Sergeants Eppilito and Novakski. Curso cross examinations was similar to that of Wilson.
Luden’s next witness was Richardo Ricks.
“Mr. Ricks have you been granted immunity for your testimony before this court.”
“What do you do for a living?”
“I own ten policy stations!”
“Where are these stations located?’
“I’ve got two in Englewood and the rest are in the Second District.”
“Do you know Sergeant Romano and if so would you please point him out.”
Ricks pointed to the sergeant.
“Mr. Ricks have you ever had conversations with the sergeant?”
“Would you tell the court what these conversations were about?”
“For the past three or four years the sergeant has been harassing me to join the Commander’s Club and demanded I pay him two hundred dollars a month, when I refused he and his vice men would raid my joint, arrest the writers and elderly patrons and destroy my bet records.”
“Did you ever join the club?”
“Hell no I wasn’t going to give thieving assholes nothing!”
“Thank you no further questions.”
Curso had no questions and the court was adjourned until Monday at 8:00 AM! When court resumed Luden called his star witness Officer Cecilia Went to the stand. As she passed O’Shea and Romano they give her a dirty look. Cecilia told the court how the O’Shea had assigned her as his secretary and then his “baglady.” She told of how tired she was of all the corruption in the district and how not only the criminals were being forced to pay off the police but also everyday working black citizens of the district were being harassed by police officers. She said she contacted Commander Watson and how he the FBI and the US Attorney set up a sting with her posing as a corrupt police officer. Luden showed video tapes of the officers being paid off and audio and video tapes of her giving money to Commander O’Shea the evidence was overwhelming. The jury deliberated for three days before reaching a verdict of guilty on all charges for O’Shea and Romano. O’Shea was sentenced to fifteen years and Romano ten but two weeks later the court was informed that Romano had committed suicide. All of the officers were fired and sentenced to two to seven years in prison except those granted immunity. Ringo Troop and Robert Starks were sentenced to ten years in state prison, Richard Novaksi received two years.
Officer Cecilia Went with the help of Watson and Luden was meritoriously promoted to sergeant and assigned to the 15th District on the Northside of the city but the police grapevine is huge and before long word had gotten to the district and around the department that Cecilia was a rat. When she called “10-1,” a police need help no one came and she had been getting threatening anonymous letters and phone calls. Cecilia eventually resigned and moved out of state only Watson and Luden knew where, In the Chicago Police Department that’s what happens to a RAT!
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 22.05.2012
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