Chicago police sergeant pleads guilty to theft

By Jason Meisner Tribune reporter
12:25 p.m. CDT, July 19, 2013

A Chicago police sergeant pleaded guilty today to using his police muscle in a scheme to steal drug money from a courier in the now-shuttered Ida B. Wells public housing complex on the city’s South Side.

Ronald Watts, 50, a 19-year veteran of the department, had been scheduled to go on trial next week but instead, he pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of public funds during an appearance before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.

He did so without an agreement with prosecutors on what his recommended sentence would be. He faces up to 21 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, according to prosecutors.

Dressed in a charcoal suit and wearing wire-rimmed eyeglasses, Watts answered “guilty” in a husky voice when the judge asked him his plea. The burly officer left the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse without comment.

Watts, a Wentworth District tactical sergeant, and his partner, Officer Kallatt Mohammed, were arrested in early 2012 after they were caught stealing drug proceeds from a drug courier who was working as an informant for the FBI, court records show.

Mohammed pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to 18 months in prison.

The informant – identified in a criminal complaint as a homeless man with an extensive criminal record – had been scheduled to testify at Watts’ trial.

The informant was cooperating with the FBI in 2010 when he agreed to wear a wire and set up a ruse to make Watts believe he was going to be carrying backpacks full of drug proceeds. In a recorded phone call on Nov. 18, 2011, the informant called Watts to tip him off that he would be transporting some cash, telling him, “I got one going on,” according to the charges.

“Make sure you call me,” the government quoted Watts.

Read more here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-chicago-police-sergeant-pleads-guilty-to-theft-20130719,0,4896139.story

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