Eighteen black men who were sentenced to prison for drug crimes had their convictions vacated because of misconduct by Ronald Watts, a corrupt black Chicago police sergeant, and the men who worked under him, Kim Foxx, the Cook County State’s Attorney, said Monday.
“As the result of an ongoing review by prosecutors in the Conviction Integrity Unit, today we asked the Court to vacate these convictions in the interest of justice,” Foxx said. “In these cases, we found a pattern of misconduct by Watts and others, which strongly impacts our confidence in the initial arrests and the validity of these convictions.”
Foxx’s announcement comes a few days after the death of disgraced former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, who, along with his “Midnight Crew” of detectives, brutally beat black men into confessing crimes they didn’t commit.
Burge never served time for torturing 200 black men between 1972 and 1991 into confessing to crimes they didn’t commit.
In 2008, Burge was charged and convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice but not for torture because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. Burge was stripped of his badge and was fired.
A judge sentenced him to 4 ½ years in a federal prison. He was released in October 2014. However, he kept his $4,000 a month pension. Burge died September 19, 2018.
Watts is on the black side of the corrupt police coin. His deeds challenge the once-held belief that black cops would treat fellow blacks more fairly than whites.
The men whose convictions were vacated were set up by Watts and his men, They terrorized residents of the Ida B. Wells Housing Project on the South Side, planting drugs on them and repeatedly arresting them for drug possession if they did not pay the police to stay out of prison.
These contrived serial arrests affected African-American families because black men were separated from their wives and children for long periods of time, leaving the sole responsibility of raising the children to their wives.
Watts was convicted in 2012 and sentenced to 22 months in prison for stealing from an FBI informant during a sting operation.
“Today in court prosecutors formally presented the motions to vacate the charges to Cook County Judge Leroy K. Martin, Jr. during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. Judge Martin granted the motions and vacated the convictions.
This is the second time Foxx has initiated court proceedings regarding cases involving Watts. In November 2017, the State’s Attorney filed similar motions to vacate the convictions of 15 others because of concerns about the misconduct of Watts and other arresting officers.
Foxx has vacated the convictions of nearly 50 people, including 42 cases worked by Watts.