Eighteen men who had drugs planted on them by a rogue band of Chicago police officers will see their convictions overturned, according to lawyers representing several of the men.
That would bring the total number exonerated from Sgt. Ronald Watts’ decade of fabricated charges to 42.
The decision is expected Monday morning — a year after convictions were tossed in another mass exoneration of 15 men who were caught in Watts’ web of planted drugs, falsified reports and false witness testimonies.
The 18 men slated for an exoneration Monday were wrongly accused from 2002 to 2008, according to The Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago, which represents several of them.
“That Watts and his team were dirty was an open secret for many, many years within the Chicago Police Department,” Joshua Tepfer, an attorney for The Exoneration Project who represents 12 of the 18 men, said in a statement issued by the Exoneration Project. “It is one of the biggest scandals in Chicago Police Department history.”
Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed were indicted on federal charges in 2012 after one of their targets turned out to be an FBI informant.A little less than a year ago, 15 officers serving under him were demoted to desk duty.
The longest sentences of Watt’s targets stretched to almost a decade in prison before they were tossed. Now, the 15 men exonerated last November are suing the city for itsalleged complicity in the police department’s “code of silence.”
A spokesman for State’s Attorney Kim Foxx could not immediately be reached Friday night.