CHICAGO (CBS) — Federal authorities have arrested a Chicago Police sergeant and patrol officer and charged them with stealing $5,200 in what they thought was illicit drug money.
Sgt. Ronald Watts and Officer Kallatt Mohammed, both of the Wentworth District Tactical Unit, are each charged with one count of theft of government funds in a federal criminal complaint.
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Watts is 48 and an 18-year Chicago Police veteran, while Mohammed, 47, joined the force 14 years ago. They were both released on unsecured bonds of $10,000 after appearing Monday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Maria Valdez.
On Nov. 21 of last year, a cooperating witness who was actually an FBI informant claimed to be a drug money courier. The officers took the money from the informant, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Agents conducting video surveillance found recorded the theft, in which Mohammed drove his personal car up to the informant in the 2700 block of South Vernon Avenue, and took a bag with $5,200, prosecutors said. The officers then paid the informant $400 for allowing them to steal the drug proceeds, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.
Prosecutors claim that the informant had had earlier dealings with Watts, including an occasion when Watts told the informant to alert him or Mohammed whenever a drug money transport was in progress.
The informant allegedly called Watts on Nov. 18. In a conversation that was wiretapped, the informant planned to pick up a bag of purported drug money from the car near 26th Street and King Drive, and walk it to another car on 29th Street. Watts allegedly arranged for Mohammed to intercept the money.
After Mohammed too the bag and didn’t give the informant any money in return, the informant called Watts and discussed getting a cut, prosecutors said. Soon afterward, Watts and Mohammed met in near 58th Street and Princeton Avenue, as federal agents found the bag that the informant had given Mohammed empty a few blocks away.
The informant called Watts a short time afterward, and met the sergeant at Cermak Road and Canal Street, prosecutors said. When Watts handed over $400, he allegedly said, “Who always takes care of you?”
The money was not really drug money, but actually federal government money, prosecutors said.
If convicted, Watts and Mohammed could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of $250,000.