Former Chicago Police Commander Convicted of Perjury, Obstruction of Justice Related to Torture of Suspects

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department announced that a federal jury in Chicago today convicted former Chicago Police Department (CPD) Commander Jon Burge, 60, of Apollo Beach, Fla., on perjury and obstruction charges related to his denials that he participated in the torture of suspects in police custody decades ago. The jury found that Burge lied and impeded court proceedings in November 2003 when he provided false statements in a civil lawsuit that alleged that he and others tortured and abused people in their custody.

During the trial, several victims testified that they had been tortured by Burge and other officers who worked for him in area two of the CPD. Various witnesses testified that the officers administered electric shocks to their genitals, suffocated them with typewriter covers, threatened them with loaded guns and burned them on radiators. The jury found that Burge had lied under oath when he claimed that he did not participate in any of these acts of torture, and that he was unaware of any other officers having done so.

"For decades, Jon Burge’s horrific actions ran contrary to all that our justice system stands for. Burge betrayed the public trust, first by abusing suspects in his custody, and then by lying under oath to cover up what he and other officers had done. The jury’s verdict allows those harmed by his actions to finally start the healing process, " said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Civil Rights Division will aggressively prosecute any officer who violates the Constitution."

"At long last, a measure of justice was delivered today when a jury returned a verdict of guilty against Jon Burge on obstruction of justice and perjury. The verdict necessarily found that torture and abuse occurred in police districts in the city of Chicago in the 1980s. It’s disgraceful that torture happened and sad that it took so long to bring Burge to justice, and the only thing that would have been worse is if this measure of justice never happened," said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

Burge faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of obstruction of justice and five years in prison for perjury.

This case was investigated by the FBI and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David Weisman and April Perry and Civil Rights Division Trial Attorney Betsy Biffl.

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