First of 3 ex-Schaumburg cops pleads guilty to drug skimming, sales
A former Schaumburg police officer accused of skimming drugs from police seizures and then using an informant to sell the narcotics on the street pleaded guilty Friday.
He was sentenced to 38 years in prison, but because of various sentencing guidelines he could serve as little as 12 years.
Terrance O'Brien, 47, of Palatine accepted DuPage County prosecutors' offer to plead guilty to four of 17 counts against him in exchange for the remainder being dropped.
O'Brien pleaded guilty to unlawful delivery of a controlled substance, official misconduct, burglary and armed violence. The unlawful delivery and misconduct sentences will run concurrently with the burglary and armed violence sentences.
Under those sentencing guidelines and with good behavior, he likely will serve about a third of the 38-year sentence, authorities said.
O'Brien, along with fellow former Schaumburg officers John Cichy, 31, and Matthew Hudak, 30, was arrested in January 2013 after a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration investigation found evidence that for at least six months the officers stole cocaine and marijuana from dealers and police seizures and then resold the drugs through an informant, authorities said.
The investigation began Jan. 2, 2013, when police found about 9 ounces of cocaine in a Carol Stream storage unit. The search led to a former police informant who said he'd been helping three Schaumburg officers deal marijuana and cocaine skimmed from busted drug dealers.
Assistant State's Attorney Audrey Anderson said that during the next two weeks, investigators captured the officers on video and audio surveillance as they made plans and carried out drug deals, often in police vehicles and while wearing their service weapons.
All three defendants resigned from the police department shortly after their arrests.
Officials said Hudak and Cichy are expected to accept similar deals in the coming weeks, though Cichy has, to date, insisted on proceeding with a jury trial. Hudak is next due in court on April 3. Cichy will appear April 29.
O'Brien's mistress, Nicole Brehm, 45, of Hoffman Estates, was accused of using her home as a "stash house" where authorities found six pounds of marijuana after arresting O'Brien, Cichy and Hudak. She pleaded guilty on March 6 to unlawful possession of a controlled substance and was sentenced to 46 days in jail and two years of probation.
O'Brien's attorney, Robert Irsuto, said his client, a longtime and decorated police officer less than two years from retirement, accepted the sentence.
"He hopes this can be a lesson to young officers and old officers alike that at anytime, you can come off the track," Irsuto said. "He had been serving in the NARC unit for a long time and just got caught up in the culture."
Irsuto also requested O'Brien be sentenced to the medium-security Sheridan Correctional Center in Sheridan, where he can receive treatment for alcoholism.
The arrests kicked off a tumultuous year for the Schaumburg police department, which hired a new police chief and eventually saw the dismissal of drug-related charges against 19 former defendants, as well as the filing of four federal lawsuits by onetime defendants who claim the former cops threatened them and acted without probable cause.
In a written statement, Schaumburg police praised their newly deployed Special Operations Tactical Unit and said they have followed several recommendations provided by a consultant.
"Since this incident started last year, the Village of Schaumburg has fully cooperated with the agencies involved in the investigation," they wrote. "This unfortunate chapter is closed and behind us."
Here's the breakdown of O'Brien's sentencing:
• He was sentenced to nine years, of a possible nine to 40, on the unlawful delivery charge and must serve 75 percent of that sentence.
• He was sentenced to five years, of a possible two to five years, on the official misconduct charge and must serve half.
• He was sentenced to five years, of a possible three to seven, on the burglary charge and must serve half.
• He was sentenced to 19 years, of a possible 15 to 30 years, on the armed violence charge and must serve half.
• The delivery and misconduct sentences will be served concurrently with the burglary and armed violence sentences.