CHICAGO (STMW) – An attorney assigned to a man charged with the murders of a veteran Chicago Police officer and a former CHA cop allowed her client to use her personal cell phone to make calls while he was being questioned about the brutal murders, prosecutors allege.
Sladjana Vuckovic, 43, of Chicago, turned herself into authorities Thursday morning and was charged with one count of bringing contraband into a penal institution, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to a release from the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
She appeared in bond court and was released on a $10,000 individual recognizance bond, the release said.
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Vuckovic has been a licensed attorney since 1995 who works in the CTA Law Department and volunteers with First Defense Legal Aid. She appeared at Calumet Area police headquarters on Nov. 27 to represent Timothy Herring, who was being questioned in connection with the murders of Officer Michael Flisk and Steven Peters, the release said.
Vuckovic met with Herring for about an hour, during which officers allowed her to turn off the room’s audio monitoring equipment, pursuant to a police rule when an attorney is meeting with a client.
She came back the next day and again met with Herring in an interrogation room, again with the recording equipment off, the release said.
But an officer passed by and overheard what he suspected was Herring making a phone call. He opened the door to find Herring talking on a cell phone, the release said.
The officer told Herring to hang up and he handed the phone to Vuckovic. She left the station shortly after, the release said.
Investigators obtained copies of Vuckovic’s phone records, which showed several calls made to Herring’s friends and relatives while he was with Vuckovic on Nov. 27 and 28.
On each day, a three-way conference call lasting about five minutes was made between Herring, his half-brother and an unknown third party, the release said. Another person questioned by police in the investigation also told investigators she received a call from Herring while he was in custody.
Prosecutors did not reveal the subject of the calls. Nor did they say if police should have searched Vuckovic and taken her cell phone before she was allowed in the room with Herring.
Vuckovic’s attorney, Len Goodman, noted that his client rarely represents accused criminals and has never been disciplined during her 15-year career as a lawyer.
“She certainly had no malice. She wasn’t trying to obstruct justice,” Goodman said. The charge “just is inappropriate.”
Vuckovic has been with the CTA since 2008 and is a senior attorney in the agency’s torte division, CTA spokeswoman Wanda Taylor said. According to Vuckovic’s Linkedin profile, she defends “CTA and its bus and rail operators in personal injury litigation.”
Vuckovic told her department head about the arrest and she will be reassigned to work on matters unrelated to legal issues pending the outcome of the case, Taylor said.
Herring was eventually charged with the murders of police evidence technician Michael Flisk and former CHA officer Stephen Peters. Herring, a convicted armed robber, was free on parole at the time of the murders.
Prosecutors allege Herring was determined not to go back to prison and returned to the scene of a burglary he’d committed. Armed with a handgun and wearing an electronic tracking bracelet on his ankle, he crept up on Flisk and Peters in an alley in the 8100 block of South Burnham Ave. and shot both men dead.
Herring has pleaded not guilty.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)