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County to vote on $24 million settlement in ‘Englewood Four’ case

Terrill Swift (right) speaks while (from left) Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames and Joshua Tepfer of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law look on, after a January 2012 hearing in Chicago. The fourth member of the Englewood Four, Michael Saunders, is not shown.

Terrill Swift (right) speaks while (from left) Harold Richardson, Vincent Thames and Joshua Tepfer of the Center on Wrongful Convictions at Northwestern University School of Law look on, after a January 2012 hearing in Chicago. The fourth member of the Englewood Four, Michael Saunders, is not shown. | AP file photo

Three of the four men wrongfully convicted in the “Englewood Four” case may receive a $24 million settlement from Cook County when the matter goes before the board Thursday.

The settlement, if approved by the board, would go to Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson and Vincent Thames.

The three men, along with Terrill Swift, said they were coerced into confessing to the 1994 rape and murder of 30-year-old Nina Glover. They were between the ages of 15 and 18 at the time of their arrest in November 1994.

After DNA evidence proved the four men did not commit the crime, a judge overturned the conviction in 2011, releasing Richardson and Saunders after they’d spent nearly 17 years behind bars. Swift and Thames had already been released, though they’d served more than a dozen years by the time of their release.

Richardson’s attorney, Jon Loevy, said that while the money won’t return the time his client lost while incarcerated, Richardson and the other two men “felt this was a fair amount of compensation.”

“Anybody that loses two decades of his life in prison for something they didn’t commit has suffered beyond measure,” Loevy said. “There’s certainly appreciation that the city and the county acknowledge the injustice and attempted to make it right.”

After the four men were exonerated, they filed lawsuits alleging police and prosecutors ignored evidence that linked Johnny “Maniac” Douglas, a career criminal, to the crime.

Swift’s lawsuit ended with a $6.75 settlement with the city and a $5.625 million settlement with the county in 2017, according to court records. The city handled the remaining three cases with a $24.25 million settlement.