CHICAGO (AP) — A Chicago police sergeant and an officer in his gang crime squad were convicted Tuesday on charges alleging that they lied to judges to obtain search warrants and then stole cash and drugs from the properties they searched.
Jurors found Sgt. Xavier Elizondo and Officer David Salgado guilty on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges. Elizondo was also convicted on one count of attempting to destroy evidence, while Salgado was also found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI. The pair have been on desk duty since being charged.
According to prosecutors, Elizondo, 45, and Salgado, 37, carried out their scheme between at least June of 2017 and January of 2018 while they were working on the gang crime squad. They worked with two people who, posing as confidential informants, provided false information to persuade judges to sign the officers' search warrants. During the searches, the pair stole drugs, cash and other items from the properties and later shared some of what they stole with the people posing as informants.
Prosecutors used undercover audio and video recordings to help make their case.
"They were fighting crime, but that doesn't mean they're allowed to commit crimes while doing it," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Franzblau told jurors during his closing arguments Monday.
In his closing remarks, defense attorney Michael Clancy said Elizondo had dedicated his career to keeping guns and drugs off the city's streets. He said for Elizondo to be effective, he strung informants along by promising them a cut of the loot. He said it was an act, with Elizondo giving them a little cash from his own pocket.
"That's how you have to police on the West Side of Chicago. You gotta play games with these people to get them to work for you," Clancy said, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The investigation began in November 2017 after a source told FBI agents that an informant for Elizondo's team told him about receiving money and drugs from the officers in exchange for information. The informant allegedly began working for Elizondo's team after the informant was targeted in a raid that didn't result in criminal charges.
Elizondo and Salgado each face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years for the embezzlement charge and five years for the conspiracy charge. Making a false statement to the FBI carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.