A Chicago police sergeant convicted of using bogus search warrants to raid homes and steal cash and drugs was sentenced Friday to seven years and three months in federal prison.
Prosecutors had sought a 10-year prison sentence for Xavier Elizondo. They noted that the Cook County state’s attorney’s office in Chicago dismissed 37 criminal cases that were tainted by the involvement of Elizondo and another convicted officer, David Salgado, the Chicago Tribune reported.
According to prosecutors, Elizondo and Salgado carried out the scheme between at least June 2017 and January 2018 while working on the Chicago Police Department’s gang crime squad.
They worked with two people who, posing as confidential informants, provided false information to persuade judges to sign search warrants, prosecutors said. During those searches, drugs, cash and other items were stolen and later shared with the people posing as informants.
Corrupt officers are a big reason why “people don’t trust the system and don’t trust law enforcement,” U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly told Elizondo on Friday.
“People see that police officers can lie and get away with it for an extended period of time,” Kennelly said. “That’s the price that has been paid.”
A jury last year convicted Elizondo and Salgado of conspiracy and obstruction of justice. Elizondo was also convicted on one count of attempting to destroy evidence, while Salgado was also found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI.
Elizondo, 47, had been with the department 23 years. Salgado, 39, was hired in 2003.
Several informants testified that they would be paid in cash, drugs or cigarettes after successful raids.
Elizondo testified at his trial last year that he often pretended to be a corrupt officer to win the trust of informants. He said that’s why he was caught in a 2017 sting telling an informant that “whatever falls out of the bag” would be his.
“It’s a lie that I tell,” Elizondo testified. “It could be drugs. It could be jewelry. It could be whatever you want it to be.”
He remains free on bond until he reports to prison.
Salgado’s sentencing is scheduled for July 15.