Human Rights

Gang of Cops Allegedly Steal $5,000 From Man’s Grandmother

The cops from a Chicago suburb are also battling federal charges for stealing and reselling illegal narcotics.


Courthouse News reports a Chicago man is suing two former police officers and the Village of Schaumburg over a claim that the officers stole $5,000 from the man’s grandmother.

The plaintiff, Kelley Altom further asserts that the officers “essentially ran a robbery ring which entailed illegally entering persons' homes; conducting illegal searches of homes, vehicles, and persons; false arrests; stealing narcotics and money; and engaging in physical abuse, intimidation and threats in order to extort narcotics and money as well as cover up the officers' own illegal conduct." 

On January 16, federal agents arrested defendants Matthew Hudak and Terrance O’Brien and accomplice John Cichy for stealing and reselling illegal narcotics obtained during arrests. A Chicago Tribune report says the DEA used an informant to catch the Schamburg officers in the act. 

One of the conspirators, O’Brien told the Tribune that he and his buddy cops peddled stolen drugs “for the thrill of it.”

As the officers battle federal charges, Altom’s lawsuit claims he fell victim to the cops’ conspiracy in 2011. He says the Schaumburg officers searched his house without a warrant, stole $5,000 of his grandmother’s money, and “violently shoved” him to the ground. The Cook County Circuit Court charged Altom with marijuana possession, but the charges were dropped in July on grounds that the search was unconstitutional.

The Schaumburg case is an exceptionally sinister example of police corruption. But the invasive procedures used by Schaumburg officers to illegally seize drugs merely reflect business as usual for American law enforcement. The Huntsville Times reports a woman is suing Huntsville police officers on claims that she was “searched and arrested without cause and a female officer put her hand down the Quainoo's pants during the search.” New documents obtained by Atlanta’s WBS-TV claim “Atlanta Police Department leaders condoned, even encouraged, elite officers to conduct illegal public strip searches on suspects.” 

While illegal search and seizures run rampant through American police departments, some cities have institutionalized these procedures. In New York, NYPD officers legally search citizens without warrant everyday under the protection of “Stop-and-Frisk” laws. 


Any scan through America’s legal system quickly reveals that these types of invasive—often times illegal—procedures happen all the time.

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.