A dirty suburban cop who used his police badge to shake down contraband cigarette dealers was sentenced to five years in federal prison Monday.
Jimmy Rodgers — an officer in west suburban Lyons who also worked on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration task force — previously admitted he stole $37,000 in cash and hundreds of cartons of smokes during phony police stings last year.
And he claimed that he turned to a life of crime after suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after he shot a man dead during a 2011 drug bust.
But prosecutors called him a “crooked cop” who stole “because he could and because he believed he could get away with it.”
Evidence showed that while in full uniform, Rodgers, 44, worked with confidential informants to set up a series of busts on traders who dealt in contraband untaxed cigarettes both inside and outside Chicago city limits.
But after he and other officers detained the dealers and seized their cash and cigarettes, Rodgers paid the informants off and kept most of the cash and cigarettes for himself.
He then warned the dealers that their phones were being tapped and threatened them into keeping the thefts quiet.
On two occasions, he even helped himself to bottles of Patron tequila and whiskey from a cigarette dealer’s store, then handed them off to a police informant as payment, according to a plea deal Rodgers signed in May.
“The temptation for police officers to extort illegal operations is great. People need to know they will go to jail for this conduct,” U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin said in imposing sentence Monday. “The sentence here should serve as a reminder that the penalty for shaking people down is not a slap on the wrist.”
Crooked former Cook County Sheriff’s Investigator Larry Draus Sr. was last year sentenced to 2½ years for a similar, smaller-scale contraband cigarette scam.