Former Chicago Cop Gets 12 Years in Corruption Case

Disgraced former Chicago cop Jerome Finnigan was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Thursday for a murder-for-hire plot targeting a fellow officer — a crime prosecutors said could only be described as “horrendous.”

“I did a lot of good work,” Finnigan said before the sentence was handed down in federal court. “[But] I did become a corrupt police officer.”

Earlier this year, Finnigan pleaded guilty to ordering the hit on another officer and a tax charge.

“It doesn’t get any more serious than that” is how U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald once described the crime of a police officer trying to arrange a murder.

Finnigan, 48, was a member of the now-disbanded Special Operations Section, a citywide unit responsible for targeting narcotics dealers. He led a crew of SOS cops who ransacked homes without warrants and conducted illegal traffic stops while shaking down criminals and innocent citizens alike.

Finnigan has admitted to a role in five robberies in 2004 and 2005. His crew stole at least $600,000 and his cut was more than $200,000, prosecutors say.

Another officer, Keith Herrera, secretly recorded Finnigan discussing plans to hire someone to kill an unidentified officer who might cooperate in the federal investigation of the robbery crew. The murder was never carried out.

At his April plea hearing, Finnigan called the plot a “charade,” saying he never intended to kill anyone.

His lawyer has portrayed Finnigan as a decorated cop — twice named the department’s officer of the month — who only wanted to protect the community.

Prosecutor Brian Netols said Finnigan’s case was “cautionary tale” for officers.

He lauded Finnigan’s good works, but blasted his role in the murder-for-hire plot. “There is no way to describe that except horrendous,” Netols said.

Finnigan has already been in jail for four years. If he gets time off for good behavior, he could be out of prison by 2018 or 2019.

Since he was arrested, Finnigan has been held in a federal lockup in downtown Chicago under tight security for his own protection. His lawyer, Marc Barnett, characterized Finnigan’s jail conditions as unusually harsh. Unlike other inmates who can have unlimited showers, Finnigan gets three a week; his phone calls are limited; he can’t have any contact with visitors; he can’t e-mail anyone; he doesn’t have access to TV, and he can’t use the gym, Barnett said.

Barnett had argued for a 10-year sentence, in part, because Finnigan has spent four years in “the hole,” even though he wasn’t considered a disciplinary problem.

Herrera is scheduled to be sentenced in November for his role in the holdup crew. He has pleaded guilty to participating in three robberies.


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