Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx has agreed to look into hundreds of convictions involving disgraced former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and his underlings.
“The Conviction Integrity Unit is reviewing any cases of incarcerated individuals where Watts was substantively involved,” spokeswoman Tandra Simonton confirmed Monday.
Lawyers with the University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project on Monday withdrew their petition for a court review of convictions in cases handled by Watts and his team.
The state’s attorney’s involvement means the petition is no longer needed, explained Joshua Tepfer, an attorney with the Exoneration Project. The group last last year asked Chief Criminal Court Judge Leroy Martin Jr. to review the cases.
Prosecutors have started working with Exoneration Project lawyers and will be appointing a special master to review the cases, Tepfer said.
Foxx’s cooperation and the possibility of her budgeting more resources was key in the lawyers’ decision to drop the petition, Tepfer said.
Watts, who supervised officers at the Ida B. Wells housing complex on the South Side, was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison in 2013 for ripping off a drug courier who was an FBI informant.
An officer on his team, Kallatt Mohammed, was also convicted and given time for the crime.
Lionel White, who was arrested at Ida B. Wells over 10 years ago, had his drug conviction vacated in December after Tepfer presented evidence that Watts was under investigation for corruption at the time of White’s arrest.
And in March, Ben Baker and his wife, Clarissa Glenn, who claimed they were framed by Watts’ team, had their drug convictions vacated.