CHICAGO (CBS) — A federal judge has sentenced corrupt Chicago Police Sgt. Xavier Elizondo to 87 months in prison, after the officer and his partner were convicted last year of lying to judges to obtain search warrants, and then stealing cash and drugs from the properties they searched.
Last October, Elizondo and Officer David Salgado were found guilty on all counts following a trial on conspiracy and obstruction of justice charges.
On Friday, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sentenced Elizondo to 87 months in prison. Salgado is scheduled to be sentenced next month.
The two were assigned to a gang unit in the 10th District on the West Side. Federal prosecutors have said they conspired to falsely obtain search warrants that allowed them to search properties and seize cash and drugs. They then falsified police reports to hide the thefts.
According to the indictment, Elizondo and Salgado submitted the applications for search warrants by having their informants furnish false information to a judge. After using the warrants to seize cash, drugs and cartons of cigarettes from Chicago properties, the officers allegedly gave a portion of those items to the informants.
The two were relieved of their police duties in 2018, and are also facing civil lawsuits from people whose homes were invaded in 2017 and 2018.
CBS 2 Investigator Megan Hickey sat down earlier this year with one mom who talked about the terror she and her children said they still feel every day.
“It’s disgusting to honestly because I always told them you respect the police you talk to them be honest to them. You’re not going to get in trouble if you tell them the truth how could they terrorize my family like that?” Michaela Cruz said.
Cruz’s family is one of two now coming forward with nearly identical stories of bad raids involving Elizondo and Salgado.
This lawsuit comes on the heels of an ongoing CBS 2 investigation exposing wrong raids from CPD officers throughout the city. It was the subject of a CBS 2 documentary about the issue: [un]warranted.
If you have been a victim of a wrong raid, we want to hear from you. Click here to let CBS 2 know about your experience.
Cruz was talking about the moment she came home to her apartment in Little Village in January 2018 to find her 16-year-old in handcuffs and officers in SWAT gear pointing guns in her face and at two of her four children.
Cruz was slapped with a narcotics charge that was quickly dropped. Her home was actually raided a second time, a year later; fortunately, when her children weren’t home.
Her federal lawsuit accuses Chicago police officers, including Elizondo and Salgado, of enlisting a “John Doe” informant to fabricate evidence to obtain warrants to search her home.
“Those two officers have since been convicted in federal court,” attorney John Lovey, who is representing Irene Simmons and Michaela Cruz in the civil suit, said earlier this year. “This perpetuated under the CPD and nobody did any about it. It took the FBI to get involved.”
Simmons was alone with her granddaughter when police invaded her home. The officers said they had warrants to enter and charged Simmons with a narcotics crime that was later dropped.
Also named in the lawsuit is the city of Chicago, for what attorneys said was a code of silence within the department.
According to the attorneys representing the women, both said the officers used fake search warrants to make their way into their homes, plant drugs and falsify charges.
Cruz said she came forward in the hopes that other impacted families will have the courage to tell their stories.
“I don’t got no choice but to look up,” Cruz said. “You know, you gotta look up. And hold the Chicago Police Department accountable for the actions of its officers.”
But Cruz said the wrong raid has permanently affected her children.
“They cannot even hear a knock at the door without being scared,” Cruz said, who added that she has tried to get therapy for them but they refuse to go because they are still afraid.
“My daughter and son do not want to talk to anyone,” Cruz said. “(They) do not trust anyone.”
For her, the effects linger.
“I get nervous and panic attacks when I see blue lights,” Cruz said. “Now I just have more fear and anxiety.”