Burge Gets 4 1/2 Years In Torture Case

Victim’s Sister: Burge ‘Put Us Through 16 Years Of Torment’

UPDATED 01/21/11 6:35 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Former Chicago Police Lt. Jon Burge has been sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for lying about the torture of criminal suspects.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow handed the sentence down Friday afternoon, following two days of testimony at his sentencing hearing.

Burge, 63, was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice on June 28, 2010, for lying in a civil suit when he denied committing or witnessing torture. Since he was fired from the Police Department in 1993, Burge’s name has become synonymous with police brutality in Chicago.

Dozens of suspects who have accused Burge and the detectives under their command of shocking them with a homemade electrical device, suffocating them with typewriter bags, putting guns to their head and playing Russian roulette — all to force them to confess to murders they didn’t commit.

In handing down the 4 1/2 year sentence on Friday, Lefkow said she took into account the seriousness of the allegations against Burge. She also said she wondered why a decorated and respected officer would resort to such violence against suspects.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s John Cody reports

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Bob Roberts has reaction from torture victims

Prosecutors had been seeking more than 30 years in prison. Defense attorneys were pushing for only two years.

In his own testimony Friday afternoon, Burge said he was “deeply sorry” for the impact his case has had, but stopped short of admitting any guilt.

Burge spoke for less than five minutes at his sentencing, speaking in a low, booming but calm voice.

As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, Burge said he knows he “has brought the department into disrepute” and he said, “For that, I am deeply sorry.”

But Burge did not acknowledge anyone had been tortured or that he lied about it. He also called the “allegations of racism against me deeply disturbing” and pointed out that he’d been promoted by African American bosses. Virtually all of the men who have accused him of torturing them into false confessions are African American.

In closing, Burge talked about his battle with prostate cancer and other ailments, and then there was a long pause as he said, “I’m 63 years old. I try to keep a proud face, but the reality is, I’m a broken man.” At that point the former police commander appeared to cry.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald called the sentence an important step moving forward from the city’s police torture scandal.

“Justice was delayed in this case and what happened never should have happened and justice should have come sooner. But justice delayed isn’t justice completely denied,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s important that justice was accomplished and that the truth was established in a courtroom by the trial and conviction. And it was established that awful things happened that shouldn’t have happened.”

The lead prosecutor on the case, Assistant U.S. Atty. David Weisman said, “I think this case was important to the community to show that as a society we won’t tolerate that conduct.”

But Burge’s attorney Richard Beuke said he was worried about the message that the sentence would send.

“I’m concerned that this type of a sentence, what happened today, may cause lawyers to think that it’s open season on suing the police,” Beuke said.

Burge’s victims weren’t satisfied with the verdict either, seeing it as too lenient for the man they saw as responsible for torturing scores of innocent men.

Mark Clements, who said he spent 28 years in prison for arson and murder he did not commit, called the sentence “outrageous.”

Clements alleged he was 16 years old when he was tortured into confessing by officers under Burge’s command. He was released from prison in August 2009.

“This is ridiculous. This is a smack in the face once again to the African American community and I do not really really know what we’re going to do to rectify what occurred here, but this is a complete injustice,” Clements said as tears rolled down his face. “Four and a half years, where men have spent 20 and 30 years in prison is outrageous.”

Earlier Friday, the sister of a former death row inmate testified that Burge and his detectives “put us through 16 years of torment” when they tortured her brother into confessing to seven murders he did not commit.

Robin Hobley raised her voice in anger and then broke down in tears as she talked about her brother Madison Hobley, who was sentenced to death for a 1987 fire that killed seven people.

Madison Hobley was later pardoned following allegations that detectives had tortured him to get him to confess. Robin Hobley told Burge that he has no idea what he put their family through.

“You put us through 16 years of torment. … of people believing my brother was a murderer, and he wasn’t,” she said, her voice breaking with emotion. “You have no idea what you did to our family.”

Lefkow cut her off after a few minutes and asked her to address the bench, not Burge.

Witnesses for Burge said the man they know isn’t the same person described by victims and prosecutors.

Burge’s older brother called him “a genuinely caring person.”

“My little brother has always been my hero,” Jeffery Burge said.

Burge’s lawyers also argue the judge should take into account Burge’s military service and decades fighting crime.

More than 30 people, many of them police officers, have sent letters to Lefkow, with one calling Burge a “policeman’s policeman.” Other letters speak of Burge’s dedication to his job, selflessness and effectiveness as a police officer and investigator. Two jurors from Burge’s five-week trial also wrote letters on his behalf, with one suggesting a prison term of three years would be appropriate.

Burge and others also pled for leniency based on his poor health. He’s been diagnosed with prostate cancer, congestive heart failure, sleep apnea and has had double knee replacement.

His brother asked Lefkow to be “humane,” saying, “almost any sentence will be a death sentence, and I don’t want to see him die in prison.”

On Thursday, another former Chicago Police officer called torture and misconduct under Burge’s command a “cancer” that destroyed relations with the black community.

At times near tears, Howard Saffold, the former head of the African American Patrol League and former security chief for Mayor Harold Washington, said a message must be sent that torture and evidence-planting cannot be tolerated.

Stories of abuse to obtain confessions and misconduct–including planting drugs on innocent suspects–were commonplace in African American neighborhoods and created a mistrust between police and residents.

Two men who said they were tortured by Burge and his detectives also testified.

One of Burge’s torture victims, Anthony Holmes, testified that he lost contact with his family while serving a 30-year prison term for a murder he did not commit. Holmes confessed to the murder after being brutalized during interrogation.

“The man tried to kill me,” Holmes said on the stand Thursday morning.

Holmes testified that when Burge was interrogating him in 1973, Burge shocked him three times with a homemade electrical device, and suffocated him with a bag.

Holmes and Melvin Jones were among the dozens of suspects who have accused Burge of shocking them with a homemade electrical device, or suffocating them with typewriter bag, forcing them to confess to murders they didn’t commit and spend years in prison.

(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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  • NoMoreRacistCopsPlease!

    This man help to destroy the trust the entire African-American community should have had in law enforcement, which further segregates the city. Unfortunately the Judge can’t sentence Burge to life in prison. But, being that he is sixty-three and in bad health maybe the Judge can hand down a lengthy enough sentence were Burge will die incarcerated. Justice served!

    • the TRUF

      the black community has done that all by themselves. I say we need a force full of these dedicated officers like Mr Burge. The knee grows cry racism and the liberals start to try to tear down the ones that are making things work

      • NoMoreRacistCopsPlease!

        Not to worry, Burge will be dedicated to his prison cell for the next fifty-four months. And, if he’s lucky he might be dedicated to a “big black bubba” also.

  • Curious

    I don’t recall seeing if this case has been treated as a felony….so if not, does he get to keep his cushy pension??

  • NoMoreRacistCopsPlease!

    He doesn’t express one once of remorse for his victims. He’s only sorry he was exposed. He apologized to the City of Chicago Police Department and their top brass, I know CPD and the Cook County State Attorney’s Office knew what he and his underling were up too.

  • Chicago

    What a joke!!!! Just let him go back to Florida! What a slap in the face to his victims & their families!!

    • Curious

      Sure is!

  • Curious

    hate to say it…but you could see that coming….

    the only people who have to pay for corruption are the tax payers and the victims

  • mike

    Wasn’t DALEY States Attorney when this occured? How could he NOT know??? Burge is guilty as hell for ruining all of those lives but he’s just the tip of the iceberg…..he’s DALEY’S FALL GUY!!!!

  • Gee-reg

    WOW The Feds can get a retired cop for locking up a murderer but can never get Daley and Stroger and their friends and familiy who have been stealing milliions for the past 20 years.

    • NoMoreRacistCopsPlease!

      What you just posted is a slap in the face of the victims. Burge should spend the rest of his retired life in prison.

      • the TRUF

        we should make him a statesman, and proclaim a city holiday and teach about him in the schools. HOW is it a slap in the face? theyre crimminals

  • Mayor Daley

    Thanks for keeping your mouth shut, talked to osama nomama….we get you out in a few weeks…”Big Jim” is working on a brief that your wife is croaking…..
    Alright folks move along now, business as uasual….

  • Jaye

    Sickening…he made peoples’ lives hell for years & thought it was a big joke….same thing going on today with so-called law ‘enforecement’. They’re so scared that they will be exposed that they asked for it to be a felony to videotape them being corrupt…..wow…and to think….This fool received 4 1/2 years for all of the hell that he caused…..only a little time more than Michael Vick…and he was fighting DOGS.

  • Sean

    Don’t forget the other off-duty officer who beat that femaile bartender to a pulp on camera…he only received two years probation..he’s at home with a case of Corana & a few bottles of JD. Chicago…Chicago…the corrupted assed town.

  • Jaye

    And I’m SURE that he won’t be placed in General Population. Sickening.

    • Ashley Nicole Lynn

      I hope they do, then maybe justice WILL be served…..4 and a half years, what a joke…right?

  • Bill

    Daley should be next

  • ssneed

    this is a shame, most people commenting here have no idea what it was like to be a young black man in chicago during the 60’s and 70’s. these guys commited many murders in chicago. I remember growing up in the 60’s two instances of policeman chasing a subject for a minor violation tripping , falling and “accidentally” shooting someone in the head. The impossible not only happened but happened twice. during the late 70’s early 80’s a white policeman with blonde hair left his squad car and shot an d killed a blackman at night on 78th and sangamon block. this was during the period when policeman cars were being converted from 1 light on the top of to two lights on top of car. There were fifty squads cars in the whole city with 1 light on top. but after you narrow it down to 50 cars,(all which might not have been in service on that shift) a blonde cop, a certain district they still never found the guilty cop

    • Vetus

      And, your point would be?

  • Gee-reg

    Hey Sneed How Many black men were never arrested and taken to jail for killing their fellow black man because the black folk in the hood would not talk to the police. But you always want to police to make the arrest but not one witness will say they saw the black man kill the black man But they will always say they saw the white police hit the black murderer or rapist or robber but you never care about the black man killing your fellow black ,man Get real

    • Vetus

      Anyone ever tell you to seek medical help? Because you are one sick puppy!

  • the TRUF

    just remember if you aint white, you aint right. WHY is it racism because I want to see my fellow white man grow and become more powerful? If a nig does it he is an activist or a leader…..personally hes just another crack smoking, purse stealing junkie nig…..

    • Average Guy

      You’re sick!

  • west town dude

    burge should the attorney that the city gave him when he was represented in the civil case. any decent lawyer would have had burge invoke the 5th amendment and this trial would have never happened.

  • wetown dude

    burge should sue the attorney that the city gave him when he was represented in the civil case. any decent lawyer would have had burge invoke the 5th amendment and this trial would have never happened.


    Hey Ssneed, the punk you talk about name was Gilmore, he was a thug, punk murdered, in other words, TRASH, GOOD RIDDENCE, DID YOU FORGET HE HAD A NUMBER OF ROBBERY WARRANTS OUT FOR HIM FOR ROBBING, UH, BLACK PEOPLE???


    The sentence was the worst travesty of justice I’ve seen in 72 yrs of watching corrupt Chicago politics. Immediately after the Burge story they reported on a young black man that received 26 years for murder of another black man. That was justice. Burge should have received the death penalty, even though we may not have it for long.

    The judge should be impeached and removed from the bench.

  • JessDeCristo


  • http://writingsecretsmagazine.com/typewriters/burge-gets-4-12-years-in-torture-case/ Burge Gets 4 1/2 Years In Torture Case | Writing Secrets Magazine

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