CHICAGO – After he realized that his beating of a female bartender was caught on videotape, authorities say, a Chicago police officer got busy trying to keep the tape from getting out.
Anthony Abbate allegedly sent another person into Jesse's Short Stop Inn two days later with a message for the manager: If the tape was turned over to authorities, Abbate or other police officers would plant illegal drugs on the manager, other employees — even customers — and arrest them.
And when customers left the bar, he allegedly warned through the female intermediary, they'd be pulled over and arrested for drunken driving.
The allegations are contained in a new 14-count indictment announced Friday by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and obtained by The Associated Press.
Abbate, already charged with a felony count of aggravated battery, is now charged with seven counts of official misconduct, one count of communicating with a witness, three counts of intimidation and three counts of conspiracy.
The indictment identifies the man Abbate allegedly tried to intimidate and the intermediary, but does not give their connection to the tavern. Terry Ekl, the attorney for the woman who was beaten, said the man is the manager and the intermediary is another bartender who also was a friend of Abbate.
Abbate is the only person charged in the case, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.
The additional felony charges mark the latest chapter in a story familiar to television viewers worldwide, after countless news programs repeatedly showed videotape of the beating.
Abbate, a 12-year department veteran, is accused in the Feb. 19 beating of Karolina Obrycka. The video from a surveillance camera at a tavern on the city's northwest side shows a man who police said is the 250-pound Abbate punching, beating and throwing the 115-pound Obrycka to the ground, allegedly because she refused to serve the off-duty officer any more drinks.
The incident became a media sensation when the videotape was released.
Abbate appeared in court briefly Friday for a previously scheduled status hearing, when prosecutors told the judge they had filed a superseding indictment to the original assault charge. Abbate's attorney, Peter Hickey, said he was angry because he had found out from the media that there were new charges, and told reporters after the hearing that he didn't know what the charges were.
A message left for Hickey at his office Friday was not returned.
Abbate left the hearing without comment. He is scheduled to return to court to be arraigned on the new charges on May 16.
After the videotape aired, Abbate was placed on leave, and the police department began proceedings to fire the man that Superintendent Phil Cline said had "tarnished our image worse than anybody else in the history of the department."
But the department itself came under intense criticism because Abbate originally was charged with a misdemeanor.
Also, police did not immediately arrest Abbate. The department later explained it was because Abbate checked himself into a substance abuse treatment center, and department regulations prohibit other officers from learning the identity of people checked into such facilities.
Cline also had to fend off charges that his department was out of control after reports that another videotape showed six officers beating up four businessmen at a different bar. The officers have been stripped of their police powers, but have not been charged in the incident.
In response, the superintendent has said he would speed up the process of getting officers accused of misconduct off the street.
The department was in for even more embarrassment last month when some of Abbate's fellow officers blocked public access to an area Abbate used to leave a courthouse so he did not have to face the news media. Cline reacted angrily, demoting a commander of the officers who helped Abbate. Earlier this month, Cline announced his retirement.