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Crooked Chicago cop pleads guilty to stealing $5,000

Updated: August 21, 2013 6:12AM

A crooked Chicago cop on Friday admitted stealing more than $5,000 of what he thought was drug money, just days before he was due to stand trial.

Former Sgt. Ronald Watts, 50, faces up to 10 years behind bars after his last-minute guilty plea in federal court, but is more likely to receive two years or less under sentencing guidelines.

The disgraced officer admitted to Judge Sharon Coleman that he directed a fellow officer, Kallat Mohammed — who previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months in prison — to take a bag containing $5,200 from a homeless man in Bronzeville on Nov. 21, 2011. The homeless man was posing as a drug courier but was actually working as an informant for the FBI.

Watts later met with the homeless man at a Walgreens parking lot in Chinatown and gave him back $400 of the stolen loot, telling him “Who takes care of you?”

Watts spoke during the hearing only to indicate that he understood his rights and was changing his plea to guilty. He declined to comment after the hearing.

Though Watts was charged with just one count of stealing government funds, a pending civil lawsuit filed by two fellow Chicago cops alleges he was suspected of corruption for more than a decade.

Officers Shannon Spalding and Daniel Echeverria say in their suit that they were told by supervisors to “disregard” their concerns about Watts, and were later retaliated against by CPD brass when they contacted the FBI.

She said at the time that the crime was all the worse because it affected residents of the Ida B. Wells housing projects, people who have “already suffered enough.”

The projects’ residents would have seen that Chicago cops were working with the drug dealers, she said, adding that the fact that “not only a police officer but an African-American police officer who violated that trust is very upsetting to me.”

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