Last month, Chicago's Police Pension Board voted to allow convicted police lieutenant Jon Burge to keep his $3,000-a-month pension. The news outraged everyone from community members to civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, and now Attorney General Lisa Madigan is fighting the pension decision with a lawsuit.
"Jon Burge forfeited his right to a public pension when he lied about his knowledge of and participation in the torture and physical abuse of suspects," Madigan said in a statement. "It's this type of criminal conduct by a public servant that our pension forfeiture laws were designed to discourage. The public should never have to pay for the retirement of a corrupt public official."
Madigan today filed a lawsuit against Jon Burge and the Retirement Board of the Policemen's Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago to immediately end the former Chicago Police commander's pension benefits based on his convictions on three felony counts.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that the Chicago police pension board unlawfully allowed Burge to keep his more than $3,000 per month pension, "despite felony convictions for lying about his knowledge of and participation in torture and abuse of suspects at the Chicago Police Department's Area Two." Madigan's suit cites a portion of the Illinois Pension Code that states no benefits shall be paid to any person convicted of a felony related to, arising out of or in connection with his service as a police officer.
Rev. Jackson also plans to file a lawsuit over the board decision, and mayoral candidate Miguel del Valle called the pension board's decision "terrible." Chicago Police Superintendent Jody Weis pointed out that Burge initially tried getting the city to pay for his defense because the alleged crimes were committed while he was a police officer. "Now the pension board seems to have overlooked that," he said.
Burge is believed to have overseen the torture of dozens if not hundreds of suspects during his time at Area 2 Police Headquarters. Several witnesses testified that Burge personally shackled, electrocuted, suffocated and beat them to coerce confessions.
He was arrested in 2008, but not for torture, wince the statute of limitations had run out on those crimes. Prosecutors ended up charged him with lying under oath in a 2003 civil suit when he claimed to have no knowledge of such practices taking place.
Burge was found guilty over the summer and sentenced to four and a half years in prison.