CHICAGO (CBS) – After serving 23 years in prison, Jose Montanez and Armando Serrano were recently released from prison.
Wrongfully convicted of murder, they have claimed in court filings they were framed by former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara.
“He destroyed families,” Serrano says. “It isn’t right.”
“You know it’s caused a lot of damage – heartbreak,” Montanez adds.
Montanez and Serrano are not alone. Two other men who accused Guevara of framing them – Juan Johnson and Jacques Rivera – have been released from prison.
The 2 Investigators found 10 others who claim in court filings they were railroaded by Guevara, who retired in 2005.
Attorney Jennifer Bonjean represents four of the 10.
“I know there are innocent people sitting in prison because of Guevara,” she says.
Her client, Jose Maysonet, is one of them. He claims he falsely confessed to killing two men after Guevara beat him with a phone book and flashlight.
“I told him, ‘Whatever you want me to say, I’ll say it,’” Montanez said during an interview at Pontiac Correctional Center, where he’s serving a life sentence.
Guevara-related misconduct allegations have cost Chicago city taxpayers nearly $21 million, a figure Bonjean predicts could soar.
“It’s going to be a lot more,” she says. “It’s going to be double that, maybe triple that.”
Montanez and Serrano’s nightmare began when eight bullets ripped through a van, killing 28-year-old Rodrigo Vargas. Initially, police had no suspect or motive. But that changed after Guevara connected with a jailhouse informant who testified that Montanez and Serrano told him they did the crime.
“His entire account was fabricated based on facts fed to him by Detective Guevara,” says Russell Ainsworth, an attorney who represents Montanez.
Serrano and Montanez were later released after the Illinois Appellate Court reversed the convictions, finding “profoundly alarming acts of misconduct” in the Vargas murder probe.
In court proceedings Guevara has refused to address his alleged misconduct, asserting his Fifth Amendment rights.
He didn’t return messages.