Ronald Coleman insists he didn’t make the call that tipped off the Conservative Vice Lords to a massive federal investigation in June 2014.
The ex-Chicago cop said in court he “would not betray the trust of the city or the community.”
But that’s a lie, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle said. Coleman first told it when he took the stand during his trial for obstruction of justice last summer, the judge insisted. That trial led to the decorated officer’s conviction and resignation from the force.
And Wednesday, noting that Coleman had offered “not even a hint of an apology to the other officers” he put in danger, Norgle sentenced Coleman to five years in federal prison.
Coleman is the second ex-Chicago cop sentenced to the Bureau of Prisons in less than a month. Marco Proano was also sentenced to five years in November for using excessive force.
Norgle handed down Coleman’s sentence after berating Coleman for also allegedly falling behind on child support payments to the tune of $84,000 while purchasing a $30,000 car.
“The kids bought you a Cadillac,” Norgle said.
An exasperated Coleman insisted the child support payments were mostly interest and involved a child he had no contact with for roughly 20 years. He also said he no longer owns any car and now gets around in a relative’s vehicle.
A Chicago Police Department representative said Coleman resigned in October, two months after his conviction. His attorneys say he is working as a rideshare driver and basketball referee. He also said he is solely responsible for the care of his ailing mother.
But years ago, the feds say Coleman became part of a “circle of trust” when he joined the Drug Enforcement Administration in an investigation targeting the Conservative Vice Lords gang known as “Operation Five Leaf Clover.”
They say he breached that trust in June 2014, when he tipped off one of the gang’s major heroin suppliers, Rodney Bedenfield, to an impending raid.
Coleman, 47, grew up and played basketball on the West Side, right where he wound up working with the DEA on the investigation. When it appeared a man he knew from high school would be caught up in the probe, the feds say Coleman warned that man’s cousin, who was also a classmate.
Coleman had allegedly spotted the first former classmate with Bedenfield, who over the course of a year had provided the gang with tens of thousands of user quantities of heroin, records show.
Through a chain of phone calls, word of Coleman’s warning trickled back to Bedenfield. On a recorded phone call, one of Coleman’s former classmates told Bedenfield: “We gotta homie that works for the task force.” The person added, “They gonna hit 10-12 houses over there. And it’s coming soon.”
“He say whatever ya’ll got going on, he say stop it and he’s like and just clean up. He say cause they got us coming.”
The tip didn’t do Bedenfield much good. He wound up with an 18-year prison sentence, records show.