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Embattled FOP president facing more CPD charges

The new charges, made public Wednesday by the Chicago Police Board, allege John Catanzara filed a false police report against former Supt. Eddie Johnson after Johnson took part in an anti-violence march on the Dan Ryan Expressway in July 2018.

Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara speaks during a rally for President Donald Trump in Mount Greenwood last November.
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President John Catanzara speaking in support of former President Donald Trump during a rally in Mount Greenwood in November 2020.
Anthony Vazquez/Sun-Times file

John Catanzara, the controversial firebrand who leads the biggest Chicago police officers’ union, is again facing administrative charges that could lead to his firing from the Chicago Police Department.

The new charges, made public Wednesday by the Chicago Police Board, allege Catanzara filed a false police report against former Supt. Eddie Johnson after Johnson took part in an anti-violence march on the Dan Ryan Expressway in July 2018.

Catanzara “knowingly generate[d] a case incident report under RD number JB346816, falsely and/or misleadingly listing Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson as an offender for Criminal Trespass to State Supported Land,” the charges state.

In November 2018, Catanzara filed another police report against Cmdr. Ronald Pontecore Jr., listing the commander “as an offender for ‘Interference with Public Officer; Obstructing Justice,’” according to the charges. It’s also alleged that Catanzara identified himself as “Beat 801” — a designation reserved for CPD supervisors.

Catanzara could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Elected to lead the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 in 2020, Catanzara is one of the most frequently disciplined members of the police department. Before his election, he was stripped of his police powers during the CPD’s investigation of his report against Johnson. Catanzara is the first union leader to be elected while stripped of his police powers.

In December, a single member of the Chicago Police Board decided that Catanzara should face an evidentiary hearing regarding incendiary and obscene posts that he made to Facebook before his election.

In one post, according to records from the Police Board, Catanzara wrote: “Wtf its [sic] seriously time to kill these motherf———,” though it was not clear who Catanzara was referring to. Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times that the comment was made in reference to people who have killed police officers.

In another post, Catanzara suggested someone perform a sex act on him, and in another he referred to a superior officer in the CPD as “spineless.”

“There is no level of fairness that would even be attached to any of this,” Catanzara said of the police board proceedings in December.

All told, Catanzara is accused of violating 11 CPD rules. The first hearing in his police board case is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Catanzara has faced heavy criticism in recent weeks after he, in an interview with WBEZ-FM, initially defended the actions of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol building earlier this month, leaving five people, including a police officer, dead. Catanzara, an outspoken supporter of former President Donald Trump, later apologized, though dozens of aldermen and other civic leaders have continued to call for him to step down as union president.

The controversies around Catanzara come as the FOP continues to negotiate a new contract with the city. Chicago’s rank-and-file police officers have been without a contract for more than 3 12 years, and dissatisfaction with the previous FOP administration’s negotiation tactics largely propelled Catanzara to victory in the union’s 2020 elections.