Attorneys for cops convicted in drug ring: Show us evidence that freed Cichy
Former Schaumburg police officer John Cichy woke Wednesday a free man, no longer burdened by dozens of felony charges that pointed to his involvement in a drug ring.
Meanwhile, his two co-defendants, also former Schaumburg officers, are on their way back to Illinois prisons to resume serving 24- and 26-year prison sentences in connection with the same drug operation. And their attorneys want to know why.
Attorney Thomas Glasgow, who represents former officer Matthew Hudak, and attorney Paul DeLuca, who intends to represent former officer Terrance O'Brien, said Wednesday they want to know what evidence changed that led DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin on Tuesday to drop all charges against Cichy -- five years after the case began.
They also want to know how that decision could affect their clients' previous plea deals.
The three officers all were charged with drug crimes after an investigation that began on Jan. 2, 2013, when police found about 9 ounces of cocaine in a Carol Stream storage unit. Their search led them to a former police informant who said he'd been helping three Schaumburg officers deal marijuana and cocaine skimmed from busted drug dealers.
During the next two weeks, prosecutors said, investigators captured the officers, including Cichy, on video and audio surveillance as they made plans and carried out drug deals, often in police vehicles and while wearing their service weapons. Prosecutors said the officers then split the cash from the drug sales.
O'Brien, now 51, pleaded guilty in March 2014 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. He is serving 24 years but could be released after 12.
Hudak, now 34, pleaded guilty to nearly identical charges in April 2014 and is serving a 26-year sentence. He could be released after 13 years.
In a written statement Tuesday, Berlin said the evidence against Cichy is different from his co-defendants.
"The developments in Mr. Cichy's case will have no impact whatsoever in the pleas and sentences involving Mr. Hudak and Mr. O'Brien," Berlin wrote.
When asked Wednesday if he intends to work with or share any information with Glasgow or DeLuca, Berlin gave the exact same response.
That doesn't sit well with DeLuca and Glasgow.
"If there's something there now that they've learned that could affect us, I think we're entitled to at least know it and see if it does have an effect," DeLuca said. "I know Bob (Berlin) said it doesn't, but that's just his opinion."
If the evidence that led to charges being dropped against Cichy truly doesn't affect the other two men, Glasgow said Berlin should be able to disclose it to the attorneys.
"When we talked (Tuesday), (Hudak) reminded me that he pleaded guilty based on the fact that he presumed the evidence against him was solid and that the state had made a representation both to us and to the people that the evidence they were utilizing against Hudak and O'Brien was credible," Glasgow said.
"Now that the evidence has been called into question, it creates a difficult situation for me because the state has not articulated what evidence was called into question," Glasgow said. "If it's a specific piece that relates only to Mr. Cichy, they should be able to articulate that to me and tell me."
Cichy's attorney, Jay Fuller, said only that prosecutors alerted him to issues with a confidential informant.
Both DeLuca and Glasgow said they were stunned Sunday when they were told charges against Cichy were being dropped. DeLuca called it a mystery. Glasgow said he finds the decision not to release what led to the decision "extremely odd."
"Unfortunately for the state, they ended up discovering something that they have not turned over or disclosed. And it was so powerful that they chose to end up throwing out all of the charges rather than disclose it. Now that speaks volumes," Glasgow said. "There is independent evidence, other than the informant, that would allow them to move ahead with the prosecution. But the state chose to throw out all charges because something was so overreaching and so damaging to their case that they did not wish to disclose it to the general public, that they chose to dismiss all of the charges against him."
Both DeLuca and Glasgow say they intend to write Berlin, seeking an audience and asking that he disclose the pertinent information.
But they're not optimistic. DeLuca said he doubts he'll even get a response.
"If that doesn't work, I've got some other ideas, like issuing a subpoena or going to another court to have them issue a subpoena. I just don't think they're going to give it to us voluntarily," DeLuca said. "Right now, I'm just trying to figure out a way to get them to release that information to me, short of me filing a post-conviction. I don't have a basis yet. I have a hunch."
Glasgow said he would be put in a position to launch his own investigation, "creating the public spectacle" he thinks Berlin is trying to avoid.