Burge reports this week to same prison as Madoff
By Natasha Korecki Federal Courts Reporternkorecki@suntimes.com
Former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge is expected to report to prison this week and when he does, he’ll be serving his time at a prison complex that houses one of the most notorious white-collar offenders in history — Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.
The 72-year-old Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex, which has both medium- and low-security facilities, as well as a medical center.
Burge is scheduled to report to the prison near Raleigh, N.C., by 2 p.m. Wednesday — a week after his name was conjured with the signing of a death penalty repeal in Illinois. Former Gov. George Ryan pardoned Death Row inmates who said Burge played a role in their convictions.
An attorney for Burge said his legal team worried about Burge being sent to a prison where he could encounter issues stemming from his days as a high-ranking police official.
“That was a major concern of ours. I would be shocked if they didn’t take that into consideration, where he would be designated,” William Gamboney said of the former Area 2 commander. At Butner, “I think that it would make it less likely that he’s going to be with the crazed criminals he was dealing with in Area 2,” he said. “It’s more white-collar crime.”
Reached at home Friday, Burge, who lives in the Tampa, Fla., area, declined comment.
A U.S. Bureau of Prisons official said she could not comment.
Attorneys asked the Bureau of Prisons to consider Burge’s many ailments when placing him. “That must have factored into the decision. He still has a bunch of different medical issues. There are some procedures that need to be done,” Gamboney said.
Burge, 63, had prostate cancer and needs a followup procedure in April, Gamboney said.
In January, U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow sentenced Burge to 4½ years in prison.
Allegations against Burge have included playing “Russian roulette” with suspects, suffocating them with bags, applying electric shocks to their genitals and beating them. He was fired from the force in 1993. He was charged in 2008 with lying about torturing suspects in a written interrogatory involving a federal civil case.
In lengthy remarks, Lefkow said she believed Burge lied on the witness stand in the trial she oversaw and she gave weight to decades-old claims of torture at his hands.
Burge, through his attorneys, denied torturing suspects even after his sentencing, a two-day hearing that at times brought the tough police commander to tears.
“I know this case has brought the department and those who serve it into disrepute, and for that I am deeply sorry,” Burge said at his sentencing. His family said Burge never married and suffered enough after losing the job he loved.
In prison, Burge will take part in an alcohol treatment program, which usually shaves some time off a prison term.
Gamboney said Burge was prepared to face his sentence.
“I think he’s resolved to what’s going to happen,” Gamboney said. “He’s a strong man.”