CHICAGO (CBS) — The former president of the Chicago police sergeants’ union has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $1 million in union dues to pay for a lavish lifestyle, including a house in the Edgebrook neighborhood.
CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports Chicago Police Sgt. John Pallohusky admitted to the single count of theft in court on Tuesday, and could face up to 15 years in prison, unless he can reimburse the union in a month and a half.
The former detective bureau sergeant was suspended without pay after he was charged in 2009, and his lavish lifestyle has long since crumbled.
His years of high living ended in 2009 as he fled news cameras after his arrest, hiding beneath a jacket in the rain.
At the time, then-Police Supt. Jody Weis said, “We have arrested the Bernie Madoff of the sergeants union. I am appalled by this behavior.”
Pallohusky was president and treasurer of the Chicago Police Sergeants Association. It turned out he had been looting the treasury of the union by writing checks and putting them into at least a dozen of his personal bank accounts.
In all, he embezzled $1,115,000
“You could call him Bernie Madoff, call him whatever you want. We just called him a thief at the time,” Current Sergeants Association president Jim Ade said. “It was a stab in the back.”
Pallohusky apparently lived a lifestyle of the rich and famous, with frequent trips to Las Vegas, and to the gambling tables.
He also used stolen funds to make a down payment on a colonial home in the upscale Edgebrook neighborhood.
At his last known address, a modest Northwest Side bungalow, there was no answer Tuesday night.
Prosecutors had also accused Pallohusky of using union credit cards for lavish dinners and downtown hotel stays; and using stolen money to pay for his Ameritrade account.
The money came from union dues paid by his fellow cops.
“Especially when you consider someone like that your friend, you know, it hurts. It hurt a lot of people,” Ade said. “I wash my hands of him.”
After hearing Pallohusky’s guilty plea, the judge ordered him to fully repay the union before his sentencing on June 1. If he does not, the judge said she might sentence him to the maximum: 15 years in prison.
He’s currently free on bond.