Cop on trial ‘seemed shocked’ when he learned he was under investigation, officer says

David Salgado returned to the Homan Square police station to see the car he’d seized on a tow truck.

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Chicago Police Officers David Salgado (left) and Xavier Elizondo walk out of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, Wednesday afternoon, Oct. 9, 2019.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

By the time Officer David Salgado returned to the Homan Square police station one afternoon in late January 2018, the car he’d helped seize the night before was already on top of a flat-bed tow truck. 

Lt. Timothy Moore, who worked with the FBI in the Chicago Police Department’s internal affairs division, had gone there with an FBI special agent to take the car back, along with thousands of dollars that had been stashed in the trunk. 

Salgado asked if Moore was from a rental car company and complained that he’d seized the car as part of an investigation. But Moore told Salgado he was from internal affairs — and he needed the car for his own investigation.

“(Salgado) took a step back,” Moore testified Thursday. “He seemed shocked.”

Now Salgado and Sgt. Xavier Elizondo are on trial at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, where prosecutors allege they used bogus information to secure search warrants to help them steal cash and drugs, divvying up the spoils with informants.

On the third day of testimony, jurors heard Moore describe the moment the officers allegedly realized they were under investigation. 

Jurors also watched video of Elizondo searching the car in question in the parking lot of a motel near Midway Airport. That’s when the feds allege Salgado and Elizondo stole $4,200 of the $18,200 the FBI had planted inside. 

Officers, including Elizondo and Salgado, searched the car Jan. 28, 2018, after a tipster working for the FBI told Elizondo about cash and drugs inside the vehicle parked at the Carlton Inn near the airport. The tipster told Elizondo a key had been tucked inside the rear bumper of the car. 

Elizondo and Salgado went to search the car around 6:30 p.m. In a video played during the trial Thursday, the officers can be seen first shining a flashlight underneath the car before finally popping open the trunk. Elizondo can then be seen rummaging around inside.  

The cash had been stashed in two Burger King bags, records show. And federal authorities have alleged in court documents “the officers appeared to discover the two bags containing the $18,200.” But Michael Clancy, Elizondo’s attorney, pushed back hard when an FBI special agent used grainy video footage to make that same conclusion on the witness stand. 

The officers wound up taking the car to a warehouse in the 3600 block of West 51st, then back to the Carlton Inn, then to a Mexican restaurant, and then to Homan Square, court records show. Then, early the next morning, Salgado allegedly filed a report indicating only $14,000 had been found in the car.

After Salgado’s later run-in with Moore, Salgado called Elizondo to tell him internal affairs had towed the vehicle. 

“They did?” Elizondo replied. “Alright, ah . . . well you know what to do, right?”

“Yeah,” Salgado said. 

Elizondo told him, “Just relocate everything, alright? . . . Just relocate everything, you know?”

Finally, in a later call, Elizondo allegedly told Salgado, “just make sure whatever you have in your house isn’t there no more, you know what I mean?”

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