Two Chicago police officers convicted of bribing informants to lie for search warrants and then stealing from the illegal seizures are asking the federal judge overseeing their case to sentence them to fewer than four years in prison while prosecutors are pushing for 10 year sentences.
Last fall a jury convicted Chicago Police Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado of five counts each, including charges of conspiracy, embezzlement and obstruction of justice.
Their sentencing hearing is scheduled for Wednesday morning in front of Judge Matthew Kennelly, though Kennelly may not actually hand down sentences until later this month.
Attorneys for Salgado and Elizondo filed separate motions Monday arguing for leniency.
Elizondo’s attorney, Michael Clancy, argues that the judge should sentence Elizondo to about four years in prison, citing his years of service as a police officer, his standing in the community and the need of his wife and daughters to have their husband and father at home.
“A number of individuals wrote letters in support of Elizondo. They describe a well-respected officer, a loving father, a devoted son, a supportive husband, a welcoming friend, and a selfless and dependable loved one,” the motion reads. “It is clear that Elizondo is highly regarded by those who know him best.”
Meanwhile, Salgado’s attorney Michael Petro is asking the judge for a sentence of fewer than three years in prison. As part of his argument, Petro returned to a claim he made often during the two week trial last fall, that Salgado was a subordinate of Elizondo, and whatever wrongdoing he was a part of was done at the direction of his commanding officer.
“Salgado was not a leader or organizer. Co-defendant Elizondo was the leader, manager and organizer of the criminal scheme,” Monday’s motion reads.
It goes on to state that “Elizondo had institutional power to force his will and decisions on Salgado.”
The recommendations from the two defendants stand in stark contrast to the sentencing memo previously filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Franzblau. The 10 year sentences sought by Franzblau exceed the federal sentencing guidelines.
“Defendants fundamentally betrayed the trust placed in them by the public and the State’s criminal justice system,” Franzblau wrote in his motion. “The defendants’ offenses … involved the defendants obtaining numerous false warrants from the State judiciary; the theft of property; the manufacture of false police reports; the distribution of controlled substances; the obstruction of a federal grand jury investigation; and perjury at trial.”
As evidence of the “institutional havoc wrought” by Elizondo and Salgado, Franzblau points to “at least 37 criminal cases” dropped by Cook County prosecutors because they were “tainted by the defendants’ involvement.”
Clancy, the attorney for Elizondo, argues that no one can “guess” why those cases were dismissed.
“Every case is different, and this blanket dismissal by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office is of little significance given the amount and types of cases that office has dismissed in the last three years,” Clancy wrote.
And he countered in his motion that Elizondo had worked on many cases with federal partners, including partners that are now prosecuting him.
“Elizondo was involved with the federal investigations and prosecutions of roughly 100 defendants. The United States Attorney’s Office has not dismissed those cases. It has not petitioned for release of those defendants, or asked to overturn convictions Elizondo helped secure,” Clancy argues. “Essentially, then, depending on the Government’s interest in the case, Elizondo was either a reliable, good cop or a dirty cop who deserves ten years in prison.”