Lawsuits, citizen complaints dog 2 CPD cops charged with stealing cash, drugs
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Two Chicago Police officers charged with stealing cash and drugs during searches after submitting false affidavits to judges to obtain warrants have been the subjects of dozens of misconduct complaints over the years.
Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado, both assigned to an Area Central gang team in the Ogden District on the West Side, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit theft and one count of embezzlement. Salgado is also charged with making a false statement to the FBI.
Federal prosecutors allege the two “conspired to submit materially false information to state court judges to obtain search warrants that enabled them to enter various properties and seize cash and drugs,” according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office.
The feds allege the cops would share what they stole — including marijuana and PCP — with the informants who tipped them off in the first place.
In a message sent to his officers, Police Supt. Eddie Johnson called the announcement of the indictment “a difficult day.”
Johnson added that “these allegations are a disgrace to what I and all of you have dedicated our lives to and risk our lives for. These allegations undermine the sacred meaning of what it means to be a Chicago Police Officer and what our star that we proudly wear on our chest represents.”
U.S. Attorney John Lausch said Elizondo’s and Salgado’s alleged crimes amount to a betrayal.
“When police officers fail to discharge their duties with honesty and integrity, they betray not only the citizens of Chicago, but their fellow officers who do their jobs the right way,” Lausch said in a statement.
Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Elizondo and Salgado were among several officers stripped of their police powers last January as federal authorities were investigating several department members for allegedly ripping off drug dealers.
The department may now opt to place Elizondo and Salgado on no-pay status, Guglielmi said, but that can only happen after their initial court appearance.
Neither Salgado nor Elizondo could be reached for comment.
Elizondo, 45, was hired in May 1996. He received a merit promotion to sergeant in February 2014.
In his time with the department, he’s been the subject of at least 17 misconduct complaints, according to police records. None was sustained. Twelve of those were related to incidents on the West Side and several alleged an illegal search without an affidavit.
Elizondo, Salgado and several other officers were investigated by the police Internal Affairs Bureau for allegedly stealing $1,800, a retractable baton and two watches “without authorization and benefit of providing a receipt, during the execution of a search warrant” in July 2016, according to documents the Chicago Sun-Times obtained through a Freedom of Information request.
The person who lodged the complaint later told police “that he no longer wished to pursue the allegation” and the matter was closed.
In 2016, Elizondo was one of several Chicago Police officers sued by one of their own colleagues.
Officer Jaeho Jung alleged that he went to a sergeant in early 2015 about an officer who made false police reports, and another who refused to fire her weapon “when required to do so, in order to protect fellow officers.”
Elizondo allegedly told Jung that by reporting the misconduct, Jung now had a “brick” over him, implying he was “tarnished in the eyes of superior officers” and that it made him “a target for retaliation,” the suit alleged. It was dropped in 2017.
Elizondo and other officers were sued by a woman who alleged that in March 2015, they broke through the door of her home in the 1200 block of South Washtenaw, guns drawn, when her kids were present. She said they handcuffed her and insisted they had a warrant. She alleged that, “after terrorizing” her family and unlawfully searching her home, the officers acknowledged they had no warrant and left. The lawsuit also alleged that Elizondo came back and gave the woman $1,000 cash for “her troubles.” The case was settled in June 2016 for $40,000, according to city records.
Elizondo also faces a lawsuit involving a fatal police shooting on Christmas Day 2014. Terrance Gilbert, who was suicidal, was killed after he lunged at an officer and stabbed him several times in his Kevlar vest. Elizondo was on the scene and signed off on the report.
Salgado, 37, has had at least 11 misconduct complaints lodged against him since he was hired in August 2003. Only one complaint was sustained. It’s unclear what the allegations were in that case.
Records show Salgado was the subject of at least two investigations by the Internal Affairs Bureau, both stemming from searches. In November 2012, he and several other officers were accused of taking $400 during a search of a home. The allegation was deemed “unfounded.” The next year, Salgado and other officers were accused of entering a home without a warrant. They were exonerated then, too.
Salgado has also been sued.
In 2009, he was one of more than a dozen officers sued for allegedly beating a man running after a vehicle that had just sideswiped his own car in Little Village. In 2012, the city approved a $125,000 settlement.
In 2014, he and another officer were sued by a man who claimed false arrest by the two officers on the West Side. Verdell McClain said the officers had no cause to search him and his vehicle. Police said they found drugs and a gun in his car. McClain’s lawsuit was put on hold as the criminal case was pending against him. Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to four years in prison with credit for 514 days served in the Cook County Jail.
In 2017, Salgado was among five officers sued by a man who alleged false arrest on gun charges on the West Side. He was also one of five officers sued last year for allegedly arresting a man on bogus drug possession charges, again on the West Side. Those cases are pending.
The charges against Elizondo and Salgado come as the department grapples with a damning report by the Justice Department, which early last year said officers in Chicago engage in a pattern of abusing citizens’ rights. Johnson recently announced a series of coming reforms, including more training and more supervisors, to deal with those criticisms.
Scandals involving cops ripping off drug dealers are nothing new. Among the most infamous cases in recent years was the 2006 investigation of Officer Jerome Finnigan’s robbery crew. He and 10 other cops were convicted in connection with crimes they committed while they were members of the department’s now-defunct Special Operations Section.