CHICAGO (CBS) — A Cook County judge on Thursday overturned five more convictions in cases tied to corrupt former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts, who admitted to routinely extorting drug dealers, and has been accused of frequently planting evidence and fabricating charges.

During a hearing before Cook County Judge Erica Reddick, Cook County prosecutors brought forward a joint petition from 88 people who say they were wrongfully convicted because of Watts and the officers under his command. Prosecutors asked Reddick to throw out convictions in five of those cases, and are still reviewing the others.

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Since Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx took office in December 2016, her office now has moved to vacate 114 convictions tied to Watts and the officers under his command.

“As prosecutors, we know that harm was caused, some of it was done by this office, and it is now our duty to make sure that those harms are addressed and never repeated,” Foxx said in a statement. “Today is a step towards righting the wrongs of the past and giving these individuals their names back.

Watts resigned from the force before pleading guilty in 2012 to stealing from a homeless man who posed as a drug dealer as part of an undercover FBI sting. He admitted to regularly extorting money from drug dealers, and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Dozens of men and women have said Watts and his team terrorized them in or near the former Ida B. Wells housing project in Bronzeville between 2003 and 2008. Watts and his officers have been accused of planting drugs on suspects and falsifying police reports.

Prosecutors have said Watts and the officers under his command time and again planted evidence and fabricated charges in order to further their own gun and drug trade.

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In some cases, Watts’ victims refused to pay him money or did something that angered him; in others, there appears to be no reason for why he targeted them.

“When you’re looking at the scope of what Ronald Watts and his officers did to the African American community in the housing projects on the South Side, I just remain deeply, deeply, deeply troubled that this was allowed to go on in the city of Chicago,” said Josh Tepfer, an attorney with the Exoneration Project, which has helped clear dozens of people framed by Watts and his crew.

The Exoneration Project has said Watts and his officers were involved in at least 500 convictions. Foxx’s office has undertaken the task of reviewing those cases to determine if charges should be dropped in each case.

In 2017, the city’s Office of Inspector General began investigating complaints of misconduct against officers under Watts’ command. The OIG later handed off the investigation to the Independent Police Review Authority. The Civilian Office of Police Accountability took over that probe when it replaced IPRA in September 2017.

Since then, COPA has interviewed dozens of witnesses; including current and former officers, former residents of the Wells Homes, and former Cook County prosecutors. Investigators also combed through thousands of pages of documents, including police reports and court records.

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After wrapping up that probe in March, COPA delivered its findings to Police Supt. David Brown, but the agency’s findings have not yet been made public, and no disciplinary action has been announced against any of the 15 officers associated with Watts who were placed on desk duty pending the outcome of the investigation.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff