Lyons cop pleads guilty to robbing illegal cigarette dealers
BY KIM JANSSEN Federal Courts Reporter May 7, 2014 2:56PM
Updated: May 7, 2014 2:56PM
A dirty suburban cop pleaded guilty Wednesday to using his police badge to shake down contraband cigarette dealers.
Jimmy Rodgers — an officer in west suburban Lyons who also worked on a U.S. Food and Drug Administration task force — admitted he stole $37,000 in cash and hundreds of cartons of smokes during phony police stings last year.
While in full uniform, Rodgers, 43, worked with confidential informants to set up a series of busts on traders who dealt in contraband untaxed cigarettes both inside and outside Chicago city limits.
But after he and other officers detained the dealers and seized their cash and cigarettes, Rodgers paid the informants off and kept most of the cash and cigarettes for himself.
He then warned the dealers that their phones were being tapped and threatened them into keeping the thefts quiet.
On two occasions, he even helped himself to bottles of Patron tequila and whiskey from a cigarette dealer’s store, then handed them off to a police informant as payment, according to a plea deal Rodgers signed Wednesday.
He faces up to 20 years behind bars and a $250,000 fine, though federal sentencing guidelines suggest a sentence of between six and eight years is more appropriate, and prosecutors have agreed to ask for a fine of just $49,000 when he is sentenced in August.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” he told U.S. District Judge Thomas Durkin on Wednesday afternoon.
Crooked former Cook County Sheriff’s Investigator Larry Draus Sr. was last year sentenced to 2½ years for a similar, smaller-scale contraband cigarette scam.