Anita Alvarez defends Cook County wiretap practices

The testimony by the former Cook County state’s attorney and Shauna Boliker — Alvarez’s former first deputy and now a county judge — came during an evidentiary hearing in the sweeping Four Corner Hustlers racketeering case.

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State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Assistant State’s Attorney Thomas Mahoney before addressing reporters about the guilty verdicts in Timothy Herring’s murder trial.| Rummana Hussain/Sun-Times

Former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez

Sun-Times file

Former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez took the witness stand at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Wednesday to proclaim that she “didn’t intentionally violate the law or try to usurp the law” when it came to her former office acquiring wiretaps in criminal investigations.

The testimony from Alvarez and Shauna Boliker — Alvarez’s former first deputy who is now a Cook County judge — came during an evidentiary hearing in the sweeping Four Corner Hustlers racketeering case.

Attorneys for several of the 11 defendants have argued that the wiretaps were improperly granted because, under Illinois law, Boliker was not authorized to sign the wiretap applications.

All of the five wiretap applications at issue in the case were signed by Boliker between October 2012 and January 2013. Four of the accompanying affidavits were submitted by Chicago Police Sgt. Xavier Elizondo. Elizondo and another officer were charged in May 2018 with submitting bogus information to judges as a means for them to rob drug dealers of cash and narcotics.

Both Alvarez and Boliker testified that, while they were in the state’s attorney’s office, there was no written policy as it related to delegating authority in wiretap applications.

They both said there was nothing in writing to show that Alvarez had delegated the authority to Boliker. Those conversations always happened over the phone or in person, they said.

Alvarez added that the in-person authorization of the first deputy to sign the applications was the policy of all her predecessors, as well.

Illinois law states:

“The State’s Attorney, or a person designated in writing or by law to act for him and to perform his duties during his absence or disability, may authorize, in writing, an ex parte application to the chief judge of a court of competent jurisdiction for an order authorizing the interception of a private communication when no party has consented to the interception.”

Michael Schmiege, one of the attorneys whose motions prompted Wednesday’s hearing, asked Boliker to give an example of a policy in the state’s attorney’s office that was made in writing. Boliker noted that there was a dress code policy.

“There’s a written policy concerning dress code but not wiretaps?” Schmiege asked.

“Correct,” Boliker replied.

After the testimony from Alvarez and Boliker, a spokeswoman for the state’s attorney’s office said Kim Foxx’s administration implemented a written policy as it relates to obtaining wiretaps, though a copy of that policy was not provided.

“As the law requires, State’s Attorney Foxx has authorized the designation of certain senior level staff to apply for wiretaps when appropriate for investigations,” according to the spokeswoman.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin did not rule on the motion to bar the wiretaps, but a decision is likely coming soon as eight of the 11 defendants are set to go to trial in September. The other three — who could face the death penalty if convicted — are set for trial in September 2020.

Even if the wiretaps are barred from trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Salib said the case will proceed.

Durkin said Wednesday that Elizondo will not be called as a government witness in the case, and none of the prosecutors disagreed with him.

Last year, when concerns about the veracity of Elizondo’s affidavits were first raised, defense attorneys in the Four Corner Hustlers case made those affidavits public for the first time.

The lengthy documents provide the clearest look so far into what authorities say was a smoothly operating drug operation headed by Labar “Bro Man” Spann, doing business across swaths of the West Side since the mid-1990s.

Four of the defendants, including Spann, are tied to six murders between 2000 and 2003, including that of Latin Kings leader Rudy Rangel Jr.

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