Man behind bars for nearly 10 years on gun crime tied to corrupt cop to be freed

SHARE Man behind bars for nearly 10 years on gun crime tied to corrupt cop to be freed

Former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts is shown leaving the Dirksen Federal Building in 2013. He’d just been sentenced to 22 months in prison after being found guilty. | Sun-Times file photo

A man who says he was framed by members of an allegedly corrupt Chicago police unit was ordered freed Monday after serving nearly 10 years of a 12-year prison sentence.

Anthony McDaniels showed little emotion as prosecutors announced they were dropping their case against him after making a “thorough review” of his conviction, a case in which McDaniels had maintained officers under the command of disgraced CPD Sgt. Ronald Watts planted a pistol on him after he refused to pay a bribe.

McDaniels, 50, is expected to be released Monday from the Stateville prison in Joliet, having been jailed since his arrest in 2008. His conviction is the latest case to be overturned based on the involvement of CPD officers who worked on Watts’ unit patrolling the now-demolished Ida B. Wells housing project.

McDaniels had always maintained that Watts’ subordinate, Kallatt Mohammed, planted a gun on him after he refused to pay him a bribe. Watts and Mohammed both pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2014, after they were caught taking $5,200 from an FBI informant.

McDaniels’ father died, and both his mother and his son had fallen ill during his time in prison, his sister, Lashawn told reporters after the hearing.

“My brother has been stating that this was falsified, we belived (him), all this time,” she said. “It’s been very emotional to just endure this.”

More than 20 people have seen their convictions reversed in cases tied to Watts and the officers who worked under him, with each defendant making similar accusations: Watts and his subordinates shook them down for drugs or cash, then hung bogus gun or drug charges on them if they refused.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx late last year dropped charges en masse against 15 men who had been convicted in cases handled by Watts and his team. Shortly afterward, the CPD put 15 officers who had worked with Watts and Mohammed on desk duty while the department conducts an internal probe.

McDaniels said he was approached by police as he walked to his car, and that they planted the gun on him after he refused to hand over cash. Police reports state that McDaniels was a passenger in a car, and dropped a gun with a defaced serial number as he ran from police. But the gun entered into evidence had an intact serial number.

A tow truck driver also testified McDaniels’ car was towed from in front of McDaniel’s house to an impound yard, while officers testified the car was found in an alley, and Mohammed drove it to the impound lot.

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