Six more cases tied to former CPD Sgt. Ronald Watts tossed by Cook County prosecutors

Former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts leaves the Dirksen Federal Building in this 2013 file photo. | Sun-Times file

One hundred and one Watts-related cases, with sentences amounting to 256 years in prison, have been dropped since 2016, attorney Joshua Tepfer said. Six more cases tied to former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts were dropped Tuesday, bringing the total number convictions vacated in connection to the corrupt cop to 101.
In a brief, live-streamed hearing, the convictions against the six men were vacated and then the charges reinstated before they were dropped by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.
“The seeds of distrust for our criminal justice system run deeply in communities most impacted by violence because of people in power like Sergeant Watts and his cronies who targeted and criminally preyed on these communities, leaving these neighborhoods feeling like their voice didn’t matter,” State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement after the hearing.
“It erodes public safety when people suffer in silence because they’ve lost faith in law enforcement. Today I stand with these communities in saying I hear you and I see you. Your voice does matter. Little by little we will continue to work at restoring justice, like we’ve done today, regardless of what zip code someone calls home.”
The state’s attorney’s office, for the last several years, has reexamined the prosecution of cases connected to Watts and a tactical unit he formerly led at the Ida B. Wells housing project.
In court Tuesday, attorney Josh Tepfer pointed out that his client, Shaun James’ case was the 100th Watts-related matter dropped by prosecutors.
James’ conviction in a 2004 drug case also tied to Watts was vacated as part of a mass exoneration hearing in 2017. His 2007 conviction of two counts of manufacture or delivery of heroin was vacated Tuesday.
James was in a hallway in an Ida B. Wells housing building on Aug. 18, 2007 when Watts and other officers stopped him and demanded he either give them money or drugs, Tepfer said.
“When he did not comply, Watts and his team fabricated drug charges against him,” Tepfer told Chief Criminal Court Judge LeRoy K. Martin, Jr.
Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed were indicted on federal charges in 2012 after they were recorded during a sting operation taking $5,200 from an FBI informant. Both men pleaded guilty the following year and Watts was sentenced to 22 months in federal prison and Mohammed received 18 months.
Tepfer said he was “happy for the guys” whose convictions were vacated Tuesday, but said he was “frustrated that there continues to be no accountability” for other officers implicated in Watts’ schemes.
One hundred and one Watts-related cases, with sentences amounting to 256 years in prison, have been dropped since 2016, Tepfer said.
“We’re reaching the five-year anniversary of when this all started,” Tepfer said. “Most of these officers have testified and denied [accountability]. The ongoing perjury and cover up in these cases is deeply troubling.”

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