Former Chicago cop gets 12 years in prison

September 8, 2011

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A former Chicago police officer was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after admitting he arranged for the murder of another officer.

Jerome Finnigan was a former member of the now-disbanded Special Operations Section. He admitted that during his time on the elite squad, he stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from suspected drug dealers. Finnigan told Judge Blanche Manning he took responsibility for his actions, but he was a good cop who did what he had to do to keep the streets safe.

"My bosses knew what I was doing out there. It was not an exception; it was the rule," Finnigan said.

Finnigan pleaded guilty in April to plotting a murder as well as filing fraudulent tax returns. The murder-for-hire plan was against another Chicago police officer who was expected to testify against Finnigan in state court. Other officers on the squad have since pleaded guilty to charges similar to Finnigan's in state and federal court. Finnigan's attorney Marc Barnett told reporters after sentencing that the work of a police officer -- especially for those who go after drug dealers -- can sometimes alter a person's view of reality.

"When you see individuals making all that money, and they're laughing at you all the time and they're getting away with it and they're making millions, after a while it gets very difficult to remain honest and true. And you just come up with justifications why you can do what you've gotta do," Barnett said.

But federal prosecutors said whatever good Finnigan did in the past, or the amount of stress he was under, doesn't outweigh the "horrendous" acts he committed.

"When you don't follow the law, when you treat citizens the way they treat citizens, it impacts the community's trust of the police department. And when the police department doesn't have the trust of the community, it can't do its job," said Brian Netols, assistant U.S. Attorney.

Finnigan has already served four years in the Metropolitan Correctional Center.