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County pays $600,000 to get out of Burge torture case
City, Burge and Daley still defendants

Monday, May 14, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County commissioners agreed Monday to pay $600,000 to settle the county's portion of a lawsuit brought by a freed prison inmate whose allegations of police torture have shined a spotlight on former Mayor Richard Daley.

By voting to settle, commissioners removed county government as a defendant in the case brought by Michael Tillman, who alleges that detectives working for then-Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge tortured a confession out of him in a 1986 rape and murder case.

The allegations against the city, Burge, other officers and Daley remain in court. Daley, who has denied all allegations against him, is accused in the civil suit of conspiring to cover up torture both as state's attorney when Tillman was first convicted and later as mayor.

"I want to commend President (Toni) Preckwinkle and the County Board for fairly and reasonably reaching this rather small but important part of the case," said Flint Taylor, an attorney for Tillman.

In November, Tillman won a rare federal court ruling that kept Daley as a defendant. As a result, a July 13 date has been set for a deposition.

After more than 23 years behind bars, Tillman was freed in January 2010 when a special prosecutor said his conviction depended on "coerced statements."

According to Tillman's lawsuit, former Assistant State's Attorney Timothy Frenzer was in a South Side police station during most of Tillman's interrogation and knew Tillman was "being subjected to torture and abuse," the lawsuit alleged.

The settlement removed Frenzer as a defendant. The county admitted no liability.

Burge is in federal prison after being convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil lawsuit that he ever knew about or used torture to obtain confessions.

The city is paying for Daley's defense. It has shelled out more than $30 million in legal fees and settlement payments in cases alleging torture under Burge in the 1970s and '80s.

In other County Board action, Preckwinkle proposed an ordinance to extend county ethics rules on lobbying, conflicts of interest, nepotism and political contributions to appointed members of boards and commissions.

The proposal, which was referred to committee, comes after county Inspector General Patrick Blanchard reported that three appointed trustees for the Northfield Woods Sanitary District paid themselves nearly $264,000 in a period of less than four years.

"As a result of some questionable conduct on the part of folks in some of these commissions, we thought it was appropriate to apply our ethics requirements to everybody," Preckwinkle said.

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