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Ex-Cook County sheriff’s deputy pleads guilty to drug rip-off

A former Cook County sheriff’s police officer admitted in federal court Wednesday that he stole marijuana from a man he believed to be a drug dealer so that he could later sell the drugs for profit.

The drug dealer was in fact an undercover FBI agent.

Now, Robert Vaughan, 44, faces a maximum of 20 years in prison after his guilty plea to robbery before U.S. District Court Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan.

As part of his plea agreement, Vaughan admitted to stealing drugs on a number of occasions between 2011 and 2014. Vaughan would arrest the sellers, “handcuff them, but then he released them without charges, and kept some or all of the proceeds of the controlled transactions, which was usually narcotics, for his own personal benefit,” according to the plea agreement.

Vaughan and his partner, Stanley M. Kogut, were members of a federal anti-drug task force. They were arrested in November 2014, after prosecutors said they ripped off an undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer. About 70 pounds of marijuana was stolen from the agent.

In court, a soft-spoken Vaughan admitted he approached the undercover agent, “with the intent to seize marijuana for the purpose of sale to profit for ourselves,”

Before Vaughan’s plea, Der-Yeghiayan asked the former police officer a number of questions about his mental health, including whether he’s taking any medications.

Vaughan said he’s taking anti-depressants and blood pressure pills — medication he began taking after he was arrested.

Shortly after the arrests, Vaughan’s partner hanged himself in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center. Vaughan was later found crying in his cell, and another federal judge who initially handled the drug theft case said he was “very concerned” about Vaughan’s mental state.

Sentencing is set for Feb. 3.

Vaughan Plea Agreement