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Chicago to pay $10.25 million in another Burge case

AltLogan arrives Dirsken Federal Building 219 S. Dearborn Street Monday December 3 2012 . |  John H. White~Sun-Times

Alton Logan arrives at Dirsken Federal Building, 219 S. Dearborn Street, Monday, December 3, 2012 . | John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: February 16, 2013 6:17AM

Chicago will pay $10.25 million to compensate a man who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he did not commit because of an alleged cover-up engineered by now-convicted former Area 2 Commander Jon Burge.

The 11th-hour settlement with Alton Logan will head off a trial that could have forced Burge to testify in court — via video hook-up from a federal prison in North Carolina — for the first time in 20 years.

The Logan settlement is on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting of the City Council’s Finance Committee, which is expected to approve it.

Jon Loevy, an attorney representing Logan, said the settlement is long overdue for a man who is still “struggling with the transition” nearly five years after his release from prison.

“Mr. Logan lost 26 years of his life. He went in in his 20’s. He came out in his 50’s. No amount of money can compensate a man for everything they lose under those circumstances,” he said.

“It’s hard to make a life when you’ve lost so much. He’s applied for hundreds of jobs. When they find out about this hole in his resume, it makes it very hard.”

Loevy added, “Mr. Logan’s case is an example of a sad truth: Sometimes, the wrong guy gets convicted of the crime. Fortunately in this instance, the truth came out.”

A $7 million report by special prosecutors concluded that Burge and his Area 2 underlings tortured criminal suspects for two decades while police brass looked the other way. But the report concluded it’s too late to prosecute because the statute of limitations has long since run out.

Burge was convicted in June 2010 of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil court case when asked if he knew of the alleged torture that went on under his watch. He is serving a 4 1/2-year sentence in federal prison.

In 1982, Logan was arrested and charged with fatally shooting Lloyd Wickliffe, an off-duty Cook County corrections officer moonlighting as a security guard, during a robbery attempt at a South Side McDonald’s restaurant.

Logan, then 28, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder.

In April 2008, Judge James Schreier vacated Logan’s conviction after attorneys Jamie Kunz and Dale Coventry revealed that Andrew Wilson — a convicted cop killer who was their client — admitted he had killed Wickliffe.

The attorneys kept the confession secret until Wilson died in prison in 2007, saying they were bound to honor their oath of confidentiality.

Logan subsequently filed a wrongful conviction lawsuit against the city and the Chicago Police detectives who arrested him.

Unlike other Burge victims, Logan did not claim to have been tortured into confessing to a murder he did not commit.

Rather, Logan’s lawsuit maintained that evidence that would have exonerated Logan was covered up and even concealed from the Cook County State’s attorney’s office.

Specifically, Logan alleged that Burge and his underlings knew when Wilson was arrested for gunning down Chicago Police Officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien that Wilson had in his possession a .38-caliber gun that had been stolen from Wickliffe on the night the security officer was killed.

Logan further contended that witnesses had fingered Wilson in Wickliffe’s murder but that information, too, was withheld.

If Wilson’s attorneys had been free to reveal their client’s confession, Chicago taxpayers might have been spared the $10.25 million.

But Coventry said Monday he feels not one iota of guilt or responsibility for the costly settlement.

“I was doing what I needed to do as an attorney. I had a responsibility to do what I needed to do for my client,” he said.

“Had I come forward earlier, it wouldn’t have made a difference. They already knew Andrew Wilson was the killer because of the sawed-off shotgun found in his possession that was linked to the murder at the McDonald’s. It was a far better case to go after Andrew Wilson. Yet, it was a Police Department decision to go after Logan.”

Coventry added, “They tolerated the police brutality and all the other things that went on with Burge at Area 2 and defended them and continued to defend them. The only way to put pressure on police is if it costs the city so much money that the politicians” put a stop to it.

The settlement listed on the agenda for Tuesday’s Finance Committee meeting lists the city, Burge and four other defendants: George Basile, Thomas McKenna, Fred Hill and Anthony Katalinic.

Before the $10.25 million settlement, civil rights attorney Flint Taylor had estimated that Chicago taxpayers had shelled out $30 million to compensate Burge’s alleged torture victims and $16 million in legal fees.

The payment to Logan would bring the overall total to $56.25 million.

Last year, Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed off on $7.1 million in settlements that spared former Mayor Richard M. Daley from answering questions under oath about allegations that — as state’s attorney and as mayor — he failed to investigate torture allegations against Burge.

The question now is whether Emanuel will deliver the apology that Logan demanded but never heard from Daley, who was serving as state’s attorney at the time of Logan’s arrest.

“There’s only one person whose mouth I want to hear that [apology] come out of, but I know he’ll never say it. Your mayor,” Logan said on the day that a Cook County judge dismissed the charges against him.

Referring to Daley, Logan said, “He was the man [who] signed the death certificate. That’s the only apology I want. But, I know I’ll never get it.”

At the time, Daley responded to Logan’s demand by claiming he couldn’t even remember the case of the man whose legal odyssey was featured on “60 Minutes.”

Pressed on whether an apology was warranted, Daley said then, “I have no idea. You know how many cases we had in the state’s attorney’s office?”

On the day the charges were dismissed, Schreier told Logan, “Your long personal nightmare is over. Hopefully, you’ll live a long life as a free man. Maybe even see your White Sox win another World Series.”

Logan replied, “Right now, I’m just happy it’s over. I’m happy so I can finally get on with my life, try to do some of the things I want to do. I can do what I want when I want to.”

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