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Charges dropped against Special Operations Section officers


February 11, 2009

Chicago Police Officers Tom Sherry and Carl Suchocki smiled and hugged each other Wednesday after a Cook County judge dismissed criminal charges accusing them of robbery and home invasion.

The officers refused comment, but their attorneys said their clients want their jobs and reputations back.

"It's been 2½ years of hell for him," said Suchocki's lawyer, Randy Rueckert. "I think there's really credible evidence, good evidence that Carl wasn't involved in this."

"It's really been a horrible nightmare that he got caught up in some wild allegations," added attorney Tom Breen of his client Sherry, who became a first-time father since he was charged.

Sources said investigators will seek cooperation from the officers in the ongoing FBI probe of the now-defunct Special Operations Section where they worked.

Rueckert said his client is not cooperating with the FBI. Breen could not be reached about it.

Last year, Sherry obtained a court order from a Cook County judge for the FBI to turn over interviews with witnesses in the federal investigation known as "Operation Broken Oath." But a federal judge dismissed the order.

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez decided to seek dismissal of the charges against Sherry and Suchocki after consulting with the U.S. attorney's office.

'06 lawsuit settled

Sources said the charges were tossed because victims could not place the two officers at the scenes of the alleged crimes.

The officers were charged in 2006 along with Officer Jerome Finnigan, the alleged ringleader, and five other officers, whose cases are pending.

Finnigan was later arrested on federal charges of plotting to kill one of those officers, Keith Herrera, for cooperating with investigators.

In an unrelated case, Suchocki was sued for allegedly smashing a 67-year-old man's head against a fire hydrant in 2006. The man said he was standing at a bus stop when Suchocki came out of a restaurant and accused him of staring at a woman Suchocki was with.

The city paid the man $45,000 to settle the lawsuit.

Police Supt. Jody Weis would not comment on the possibility of Suchocki and Sherry working the streets again. But he did say, "We have guys who have been in purgatory. It's time to fish or cut bait."

"It remains clear that many officers that were assigned to the Special Operations Section were both dedicated and ethical," Weis added.

One of Suchocki and Sherry's co-defendants, Sgt. James McGovern, resigned from the Police Department last Friday, sources said. It was unclear if his resignation was linked to the criminal case.