Three Chicago and a Glenview police officer have been charged with a felony for lying under oath during a court hearing for the Glenview drug case in 2014. Falsification of statements has been revealed and discredited by surveillance footage acquired from a police dashboard video.
Chicago police Sgt. James Padar, Officers William Pruente, and Vince Morgan, and Glenview Officer James Horn – the four officers above – have been prosecuted for Perjury, Obstructing Justice, and Official Misconduct by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. The penal sentence for the conviction involving the charges ranges from probation to up to five years in prison. The charges were announced on June 8, 2015, by the Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, ensuing the long process of investigation and research handled by the State’s Attorney’s Professional Standard Unit. The officers accused are set to appear in bond court at the Leighton Criminal Court Building.
Anita Alvarez, Cook County State’s Attorney, has stated the officers’ bond hearing stating that “the foundation of our criminal justice system rests on the concept of truthful testimony. We expect it from our witnesses, and we demand it from our police officers.” She further notes that “every law enforcement officer holds their powers through the public trust and any officer who lies under oath or makes a false statement on the witness stand violates that trust and is subject to the same legal consequences as any citizen would be.”
Glenview drug trial case in 2014 involved Joseph Sperling, who was convicted for the possession of marijuana. It was reported by the prosecutors who handled the drug case that the Chicago officers had enlisted the help of Glenview police officers to aid and assist in the ongoing narcotics investigation.
A plan was devised to conduct surveillance and arrest the suspect, which includes the observation of Sperling at his home, trailing on him as he drove, and stop him once the probable cause was established. During the trial, the police officers claimed that one of them witnessed Sterling make two turns without using a turn signal, therefore, warranting them to execute a traffic stop that was approximately two blocks from Sterling’s house. They further reported that after the vehicle was stopped, the suspect, along with his car, was searched for drugs after the officer in charge detected the smell of marijuana. A black duffel bag containing around 3.7 grams of Psilocybin, commonly known as mushrooms, and 300 grams of cannabis was recovered.
Following the investigation, Sperling was taken into custody and prosecuted for possession of drugs. Officer Pruente, the same police officer who searched the car, then prepared and wrote the police report that entails the narcotics recovery and arrest; however, video footage, later on, reflected the succeeding occurrence that ensued the traffic stop. The footage revealed that Officer Pruente did not follow protocol in narcotics recovery and arrest. Instead, it was seen that Officer Pruente had immediately placed handcuffs on Sperling before searching for the man and his car for drugs. Sperling was ordered out of his car, walked to the rear of the other police’s car, shifted him to the back seat of the curbed vehicle, and searched the suspect’s belongings.
The three Chicago police officers and the Glenview officer, including Glenview Sgt Theresa Urbanowski, who was not charged after admitting to lying, all testified and took oath at a hearing on a motion made for Sperling’s defense that happened on March 31, 2014. All five officers took the witness stand and provided sworn testimony aligned to Sperling’s case, which includes the traffic stop, narcotics recovery, and arrest. The fifth officer, Sgt. Urbanowski had admitted that the testimony she had provided was not accurate, after being shown the video footage of the arrest.
After discovering that the testimonies were possibly fallacious, Judge Catherin Haberkorn discredited the officers’ testimonies and granted the defense motion. The city of Chicago and Glenview has agreed to pay a combined $195,000 for the settlement of the federal lawsuit by Sperling.
Cook County Public Defender, Amy Campanelli, stated that police officers’ false testimony remains a broader problem. “The need to be held accountable because when they are not, the entireTheystem fails,” Public Defender Campanelli claims.
The officers’ respective service dates are as follows: James Padar, July 27, 1998; William Pruente, September 5, 1995; Vince Morgan, July 30, 1990; James Horn, June 15, 1999.
Updated: July 20, 2020