A WATCHDOGS SPECIAL REPORT, PART 2 OF 3: Officers who were fired or quit while facing dismissal get $1.2 million a year
Chicago police Sgt. Nicholas M. Ortega stood to lose everything — his job, his freedom, his pension.
Ortega was in uniform on duty in March 2005 when he met up with a group of cops at a bar and ended up driving the wife of a rookie officer he supervised back to a Northwest Side police station where they had sex in a basement office, police records show. He then drove her back to the bar.
Ortega, then 43, became the subject of a criminal sexual assault investigation by his own department, police records show. The Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined to charge him, citing the woman’s “delayed outcry,” her not telling any officers at the station what happened and “insufficient evidence of force.”
Two years later, acting police Supt. Dana Starks moved to fire Ortega, placing him on suspension until the Chicago Police Board fired Ortega in June 2008.
Ortega went to court to get his job back but lost.
Then, when he turned 50 — the minimum retirement age for police in Chicago — he took his pension, collecting $50,032 a year.
Ortega, who declined to comment, is among 32 officers who were fired from the Chicago Police Department since 2004 or quit while facing firing and began collecting city police pensions, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation found. Altogether, their pensions cost more than $1.2 million a year.
Another 19 officers who were fired or quit to avoid dismissal will be eligible to collect pensions. They include Anthony Abbate, 44, who was convicted of aggravated battery and sentenced to two years of probation after beating a female bartender in an attack was caught on video, and Richard W. Bolling, 43, now in prison for reckless homicide and DUI in the hit-and-run death of a 13-year-old boy.
Abbate was fired. Bolling resigned. Both were off-duty when they committed their crimes. Chicago cops can lose their pensions only if convicted of crimes committed in the line of duty.
The retired officers now getting a pension who were fired or quit while facing dismissal include:
• Officer Kimberly C. Marshall, who was charged with two counts of battery and one of resisting arrest in 2005, accused of biting the wrist of a fellow cop who came to her home to arrest her son.
“You ain’t locking my mother——- son up; I’ll kick your ass,” Marshall, with the department 19 years at the time, told the officer, according to police reports.
Marshall, now 54, was found guilty in 2007 of two of the counts. When she sought a new trial, prosecutors dropped the charges.
In November 2009, the police board voted to fire Marshall, who couldn’t be reached for comment. Nine days later, she retired. She gets an $11,912 pension.
• Lt. Ricky L. Edwards, a 36-year police veteran who missed a random drug test. Supt. Garry McCarthy asked the police board to fire Edwards a year ago. Edwards quit less than a month later, ending the police board case against him. His pension: $88,837.
Edwards says he missed the drug test because of a family emergency and passed it when he returned to work three days later.
“I didn’t want to gamble on the police board,” he says. “I was 60 years old . . . I had maxed out on my pension. I could sense they wanted me out anyway. So I left.”
• Detective Darlene Capers, a 28-year department veteran who quit after being accused of displaying an unregistered gun and being drunk off-duty outside her home in 2008. McCarthy moved to fire her last July. She retired soon after and says that was because she couldn’t afford to fight the city. Capers says she called the police because a neighbor with bipolar disorder assaulted her.
“I didn’t have a weapon,” says Capers, whose pension is $62,253. “What I had in my hand was my telephone.”
• Officer Ulysses C. Honesty, who faced firing for living outside the city, in Matteson. He couldn’t be reached for comment. His pension: $50,718 a year.
COMING TUESDAY: Arrested again and again but still a cop — Tarnished Badges, part 3 of 3