Three Schaumburg cops accused in drug ripoffs ordered held on $750,000 bonds
BY DAN ROZEK Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org January 17, 2013 9:44AM
John Cichy is one of three Schaumburg police detectives who were ordered held on $750,000 bond on Thursday after prosecutors alleged they were ripping off drug dealers and reselling the heroin and cocaine they stole on the street.
Updated: February 19, 2013 3:00PM
For months, three Schaumburg police officers stole marijuana and cocaine they seized during arrests, then shared the profits after an informant resold the drugs on the street, DuPage County prosecutors said.
The tactical officers were secretly recorded talking about the thefts and even captured on video breaking into a Roselle storage locker to steal $20,000 they thought belonged to a drug dealer, authorities said.
The cash later was found in the homes of all three cops — one of whom allegedly told investigators that he took part in the scheme “for the thrill of it,” prosecutors said Thursday as the men appeared in bond court.
The plot unraveled earlier this month when the informant was busted for having cocaine in his Carol Stream home — then detailed the alleged thefts to police.
John Cichy, 30; Matthew Hudak, 29, and Terrence O’Brien, 46, were charged a host of felonies, including unlawful delivery of a controlled substance; armed violence; unlawful criminal drug conspiracy; official misconduct, and theft and burglary, officials said.
“It’s certainly disheartening that three police officers have been accused of being involved in this kind of activity,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said outside the courtroom.
All three remained in jail after Judge Elizabeth Sexton set a $750,000 cash bail, saying she feared they might try to flee if released.
“I believe these guys have nothing to lose,” Sexton said as she refused requests from their attorneys for lower bail.
The scheme allegedly began at least six months ago and continued until the cops were arrested Wednesday after a two-week investigation by DuPage County authorities and agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration
A federal agent involved in the investigation that led to the arrests said the allegations against the cops “make me sick to my stomach.”
“This is not a good day for the good guys. It is a sad day,” said Jack Riley, special agent in charge of the Chicago office of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
Schaumburg officials said all three officers have been placed on leave and the village plans to conduct its own probe into the alleged misconduct.
The arrests will force Cook County and DuPage County authorities to review cases the three men investigated to ensure they were handled properly. Defense attorneys could ask to dismiss cases the officers investigated because of questions about their credibility.
“We’re going to look at their past cases and the cases that are still in the system,” said Cook County Public Defender Abishi Cunningham.
The cops allegedly obtained the drugs they sold by skimming from the amounts they seized during arrests of dealers, Berlin said.
Five alleged transactions between the officers and the informant were captured by electronic surveillance during the investigation, along with the storage locker break-in that netted the cops $20,000, authorities alleged.
The cops were arrested Wednesday in Schaumburg, and searches later that day turned up the missing cash: Hudak had $10,000, O’Brien and Cichy each had $5,000, authorities said.
After their arrests, all three men allegedly admitted to at least some of the allegations against them — with O’Brien offering the fullest explanation, prosecutor Audrey Anderson said during the bond hearing.
“He did it for the thrill of it. He did not have any money problems,” she said, though authorities contended the veteran officer was living “two lives.”
O’Brien is married, but he also has a girlfriend living in the area with whom he had a child, Anderson said in court.
O’Brien’s girlfriend, Nicole Brehm, 44, faces a felony charge for allegedly allowing drugs to be stored at her home. She remained in jail Thursday on $150,000 bail.
Hudak’s attorney questioned the charges, saying Hudak and the other officers typically dealt with informants and made drug buys as part of their duties.
“This is part and parcel of what they do,” said attorney Thomas Glasgow. “You’ve got what appears to be a snitch turning around and making accusations against the officers who arrested him.’”
And Glasgow questioned the reliability of the secretly recorded audio and video showing the officers’ alleged misconduct in handling illegal drugs.
“A controlled buy is not going to look any different than any other type of buy,” Glasgow said.
Hudak, though, allegedly told investigators he knew their electronic surveillance had accurately captured some of his activities.
“Everything that you have on the tape is true,” Hudak said, according to prosecutors.