Pubdate: Tue, 21 May 2013
Source: Chicago Tribune (IL)
Copyright: 2013 Chicago Tribune Company
Author: Jason Meisner


Ex-Chicago cop given 18 years in prison for helping kidnap, rob drug

With prosecutors seeking a 30-year prison term for him, former veteran
Chicago narcotics cop Glenn Lewellen closed his eyes tightly and held
his palms together in prayer Monday as the judge was about to announce
his sentence on federal drug conspiracy charges.

A smile cracked his lips as Lewellen heard his sentence: 18 years in
federal prison. Moments later, as he was led away by deputy marshals,
he turned and gave a thumbs-up to family members who had packed the

A federal jury convicted Lewellen, 57, last year of using his badge to
help a violent crew of drug dealers kidnap and rob rivals of hundreds
of pounds of cocaine and millions of dollars in cash.

U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall said she recognized the need to
impose a substantial sentence to deter other officers tempted to abuse
public trust, but she did not want to require a term that likely meant
Lewellen would die in prison. She said she was particularly moved by
his recent turn to religion and his attempts to better himself after
his arrest in 2010.

"I think there is work that is beyond any of our powers that is going
on, and it is not my intention to stand in the way," the judge said.

Prosecutors said Lewellen conspired with drug dealer Saul Rodriguez,
the officer's paid confidential informant, in eight robberies and
kidnappings between 1998 and 2006.

In several robberies, Lewellen showed up wearing his police vest and
badge, hogtied victims with plastic ties and threatened violence if
they did not comply. The scheme continued after Lewellen left the
department in 2003, according to prosecutors. In one 2005 heist,
Lewellen shocked a man with a Taser after he refused to disclose where
cash and drugs were stashed, prosecutors said.

In all, Lewellen helped steal more than 550 pounds of cocaine and
about $3 million in cash, according to prosecutors.

"What really sets him apart is how he used his knowledge of police
procedure to protect the crew," Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Block
told the judge. "The defendant was there to serve and protect the
crew, not the people of Chicago."

A police officer since 1986, Lewellen arrested Rodriguez for marijuana
distribution in the mid-1990s and signed him up as a confidential
informant, but then instructed him to continue to deal narcotics -- to
find rivals to target for robberies, prosecutors alleged.

For his supposed work as confidential informant, Rodriguez eventually
was paid more than $800,000 by the department, according to court
records. In addition, Lewellen was able to persuade federal agents to
drop an investigation of Rodriguez because of his "high-level" work as
an informant, prosecutors said.

As part of the conspiracy, Lewellen tipped off Rodriguez about a
federal wiretap and testified in federal court against one of
Rodriguez's rivals, helping to secure a conviction, prosecutors said.

Rodriguez's crew was taken down in dramatic fashion in 2009 in a Drug
Enforcement Administration sting in which Rodriguez believed he and
the crew were about to rob a Mexican cartel of $16 million in drugs.

Lewellen was arrested in 2010 in Las Vegas, where he had moved about
the time of Rodriguez's arrest. According to a recent court filing,
when DEA agents approached him in a parking lot and told him they had
a warrant for his arrest, Lewellen replied, "All of that happened over
five years ago."

"Lewellen apparently believed that the passage of time erased his
crimes and repaired the serious damage done by his egregious
betrayal," prosecutors wrote in the filing.

At the end of the daylong sentencing hearing, Lewellen, dressed in an
orange jumpsuit and shackled at the ankles, shuffled up to a lectern
and delivered a 10-minute address that covered his abusive childhood
at the hands of alcoholic parents as well as the suicide of his
younger brother at age 17. He said his newfound belief in God has
changed him.

"I know there is a debt to pay to society, but I believe that I can
still offer a great deal," Lewellen said. "I'm not the same person I
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