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County cop suspected of ties to gang-bangers

Thursday, June 17, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times

A Cook County sheriff's police officer is under investigation for running the license plates of federal agents conducting surveillance in a major sting on the Black Disciples street gang, sources said.

Authorities want to know if the sheriff's officer passed the information to the gang's leaders to warn them they were being watched.

Alleged gang kingpin Marvel Thompson and 41 of his associates were arrested May 12 in a South Side raid. They sold as much as $300,000 of cocaine and heroin a day and invested the profits in real estate, nightclubs, a rap studio and other businesses, authorities said.

Now investigators have turned their attention to the sheriff's officer who used a law enforcement computer system in his squad car to run the plates of agents involved in the probe.

The officer, whom the sources would not identify, has been taken off the street and assigned to administrative duties. The sheriff's office might take steps to fire him.

Investigators suspect the officer may have developed a relationship with leaders of the Black Disciples while he worked as a sheriff's correctional officer at Cook County Jail.

Meanwhile, several of the Black Disciples arrested in the raid are cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation.

Authorities are trying to gain information from them about unsolved homicides as well as more details on the gang's elaborate business operations.

They are particularly interested in the link between a Skokie-based lending company and Thompson.

Spalter Finance Co. provided Thompson with loans for properties he owned on the South Side, records show. Thompson's rehabbing company, Royal Improvement Ltd., received a permit from the city in 2003 to fix up one of those buildings at 6901 S. Halsted.

Chuck Maury, a convicted drug dealer and an associate of Thompson, had previously received a loan from Spalter for the same property, according to records and sources.

Maury is a former Cook County sheriff's deputy who was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 1995 for running a South Side cocaine operation out of his liquor store at 6758 S. Halsted.

The store, called Chuck's Cut Rate Liquors, was among the more than $3 million in ring members' assets seized in 1992 during a drug sting dubbed Operation Englewood. The investigation showed the owners of suburban trucking firms in Lombard and Bolingbrook were supplying Maury with drugs.

Maury was fired from his job as a deputy sheriff in 1992 on an unrelated drug charge.

Sources said Maury's name surfaced during the investigation of Robert Spalter's murder in September 1992 because Maury was a customer of Spalter Finance. Robert Spalter, then- owner of the firm, was shot to death as he sat in his white Cadillac outside his Skokie office.

But there were many potential suspects -- some of them disgruntled because of the high interest rates that Spalter charged -- and no one was charged, sources said. The murder remains unsolved, a Skokie police spokesman said. Spalter officials did not return calls seeking comment.

Ald. Arenda Troutman (20th) also has come under the scrutiny of the FBI for her ties to Black Disciples leaders.

Investigators interviewed her after an envelope addressed to her, with a return address to the police department, was discovered in the home of one of the alleged gang leaders.

Troutman has told associates she dated Donnell "Scandalous" Jehan, an alleged Black Disciples chieftain, but did not know of his gang ties.



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