Federal prosecutors ramped up their case Wednesday against two Chicago cops already accused of using bogus information to steal cash and drugs.
A new indictment against Xavier Elizondo and David Salgado accuses the two men of a conspiracy to violate civil rights and obstruction of justice. Elizondo is also accused of trying to persuade Salgado to conceal evidence.
That’s on top of the serious charges the two officers already faced — conspiracy to commit theft and embezzlement. Salgado had also previously been accused of lying to the FBI.
Elizondo and Salgado are scheduled to go on trial May 13, but the trial will likely be postponed due to the new charges. Prosecutors first disclosed the new indictment during a brief court hearing Wednesday before U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly. The judge scheduled a Tuesday arraignment for the two officers.
Afterward, Salgado’s attorney, Michael Petro, said he didn’t expect the new indictment to change Salgado’s defense. Regarding a vague new conspiracy count against the officers, Petro said, “if you put on a Chicago police officer uniform, you’re conspiring to violate the civil rights of all citizens at all times, I guess.”
“That seems like what it’s come to,” Petro said.
The new conspiracy count against the officers alleges they conspired to deprive two unnamed individuals “and other residents of Chicago” of “the right to be free from an unreasonable search made pursuant to a warrant knowingly obtained through the use of false and fabricated information.”
Elizondo is also accused of telling Salgado to “relocate everything” and “make sure whatever you have in your house isn’t there no more” after catching wind of the federal investigation that led to their charges. He and Salgado are also accused of obstructing justice by deleting call records from their cell phones.
Elizondo and Salgado have been accused of abusing a system that lets cops obtain search warrants using information from anonymous “John Doe” informants, who are supposed to appear before judges.
The two officers would allegedly find people to pose as “John Doe” informants and give false information to Cook County judges to get search warrants. The officers would allegedly then use those warrants to enter properties and steal money and drugs.
FBI agents set multiple traps to nab the officers, court documents show. They hid thousands of dollars in a rental car and inside a stove in an unoccupied West Side apartment the officers were led to believe was a stash house.
A federal source also began posing as a tipster for the accused cops in December 2017. The source told Elizondo about the stash house, the records show. Elizondo allegedly agreed to give the source a cut of whatever was found inside.
Another tipster, who was working with the officers, allegedly helped them land a search warrant, giving false information to a Cook County judge.
Elizondo, Salgado and other officers raided the stash house Dec. 20, 2017, and found $15,000 the feds had stashed in the hood of a stove, records show. However, the FBI also placed closed-circuit video recording equipment in the apartment. The officers found the recording equipment and apparently inventoried all the cash.
In January 2018, the FBI stashed $18,200 in a rental car parked at a hotel near Midway Airport and left a key in the rear bumper. Elizondo, Salgado and other officers allegedly found it and drove it first to a warehouse before returning it to the hotel parking lot. Then they took it to a Mexican restaurant, where they ate dinner before driving it to Homan Square and making an inventory of just $14,000, according to court records.
Federal agents came to tow the car at Homan Square the next day but ran into Salgado, records show. They told him they were from internal affairs and, a short time later, Salgado allegedly called Elizondo to warn him.
Elizondo allegedly told Salgado to “just relocate everything, alright?”
He added later: “Just make sure whatever you have in your house isn’t there no more, you know what I mean?”