CHICAGO – Four police officers used their badges and authority to "terrorize and steal" from Chicago residents, a prosecutor said Friday as the officers made their first court appearances on charges including armed violence and home invasion.
One officer is accused of wrongfully entering a man's house, breaking into his safe and stealing a rookie card of baseball legend Mickey Mantle.
Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan set bond for the four officers at amounts ranging from $1.5 million to $3 million. They all appeared via closed circuit television, wearing street clothes.
The officers charged are Jerome Finnigan, 43; Keith Herrera, 28; Thomas Sherry, 32; and Carl Suchocki, 32, all of Chicago.
Their defense attorneys argued for lower bond amounts, saying that all four were decorated officers with extensive ties to the community. Three of the four officers have family members who have served with the Chicago Police Department, defense attorneys said.
Jim Knibb, Cook County assistant state's attorney, said the officers -- members of a unit that focuses on gang and drug crimes -- sought to steal money and illegal narcotics from people who seemed least likely to complain.
"The defendants, along with other as of yet uncharged officers, abused their authority and sworn police powers to terrorize and steal from the people of this city," he said.
Knibb did not elaborate during the hearing on how many other officers might be under investigation.
In one case that prosecutors detailed, Finnigan is accused of detaining a man who was standing in front of his own home and using the man's key to get into his home without a warrant or the victim's consent. Finnigan was accused of forcing open a safe and stealing the Mantle rookie card, a 24-karat gold watch and $200 in cash.
The man and two other individuals at the home were charged with possession of marijuana, but no officers showed up for the preliminary hearings, and the charges were dismissed, prosecutors said.
The officers have been suspended without pay and the Chicago Police Department intends to move to fire them.
The charges against the four include multiple counts of armed violence, home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and delivery of a controlled substance. If convicted, they could each face up to 30 years in prison.