Quid Pro Quo?
By Vacating Drug Convictions of Gang Member, Is It Finally Time for a Federal Probe of the Foxx Administration?
Did Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx vacate two ancient felony drug convictions of a notorious street gang member who claims he was wrongfully convicted of murder so that he could escape incarceration and remain in the U.S.?
The question emerges in the saga of Ricardo Rodriquez, a Spanish Cobra street gang member who was convicted of the 1995 murder of a homeless man. Rodriquez was eventually sentenced to 90 years in prison.
Rodriquez was a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. at the time of his arrest, trial, and jury conviction.
Despite the fact that trial witnesses originally identified Rodriguez as the offender, attorneys for Rodriguez, from the law firm Loevy & Loevy, argued that Rodriguez’s conviction was rigged. Loevy & Loevy attorneys claimed that former Chicago Police Detective, Reynaldo Guevara, ginned up allegations against Rodriguez by claiming falsely, in part, that Guevara got an anonymous fraudulent tip fingering Rodriguez as the killer.
Rodriguez, however, remained in prison until Cook County State’s Attorney Foxx was elected. Shortly after being sworn in as Cook County’s top prosecutor, Foxx virtually opened up the prison gate for clients of law firms like Loevy & Loevy who were making repeated claims against Detective Guevara and his police work. Along with several other “Guevara” cases, Foxx’s administration agreed to drop the murder charge against Rodriquez.
“For decades the community has known that Det. Guevara was involved in wrongful convictions, and we are grateful that the courts are taking notice and that Kim Foxx’s office took action in this case,” said Rodriguez’s attorney Tara Thompson.
But Rodriquez remained in the custody of federal immigration authorities and faced deportation because he is not a U.S. citizen and because of the other previous felony drug convictions on his record.
In dropping the murder charge against Rodriguez and many other convicted inmates, Foxx squarely contradicted her predecessor, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, who had stood by Guevara’s police work and the resulting convictions despite an intense campaign by Loevy attorneys and their media sycophants at theChicago Tribuneand the Chicago Sun-Times.
This radical prosecutorial policy transformation from one prosecutor’s office to another’s should generate attention from federal authorities.
But there was more to come. In a rare and highly suspect move, prosecutors in the Foxx administration marched into court on February 7 and agreed to drop the two old felony drug convictions against Rodriquez, a decision that paves the way for Rodriquez to be set free from custody by immigration authorities and allows him to remain in the country. It also allows Rodriquez to pursue a pending federal lawsuit—for his alleged wrongful murder conviction—that could score millions for the Spanish Cobra gang member and his attorneys.
Why would the Cook County State’s Attorney drop two felony drug cases against a known gang member that are twenty years old? What makes the move by Foxx so troubling is the fact that Foxx was supported financially during her heated election campaign by members of the Loevy & Loevy law firm.
If only it were the lone sign of Foxx helping the law firms that helped her. But it’s not. Foxx has also released two other men, Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes, for the 1998 murder of a couple and the kidnapping of their two children. A mountain of evidence still remains pointing to the guilt of the two men, both illegal aliens at the time of the murders, including a third offender still in prison who fingered them as her accomplice. An independent review of their case by another law firm hired by the City of Chicago also concluded Solache and Reyes were guilty of the crime.
But it gets worse. Even attorneys for Foxx admitted they believed the men were guilty of the double murder and kidnapping. Yet they were released nevertheless.
From the Chicago Tribune:
First Assistant State’s Attorney Eric Sussman said prosecutors still strongly believe Gabriel Solache and Arturo Reyes are guilty of the 1998 fatal stabbing of a couple in their Bucktown neighborhood home. . . .
Foxx’s conduct in this case, apart from dropping felony drug convictions against Rodriquez, is troubling for other reasons as well. One is the growing evidence of misconduct in the wrongful conviction movement itself. At least two federal lawsuits have alleged a pattern of misconduct by wrongful conviction advocates, including garnering false witness recantations. This evidence has generated no apparent influence upon the Foxx administration, while the slightest claim of police misconduct seems to put her staff into overdrive.
But there are even more reasons to cast suspicion on the move by Foxx to vacate the Rodriguez drug convictions. Consider the specific Loevy & Loevy attorney handling Rodriquez’s case, Tara Thompson. It is certainly not the first time Thompson has marched into court fighting for the release of a convicted killer.
Court records indicate that Thompson also represented Albert Kirkman, who, along with Cedric Cal, was convicted of shooting three people, two of them fatally, in 1991. Willie Johnson was one of the three victims and the only one who survived the shooting. It was Johnson’s testimony that played a key role in convicting Kirkman and Cal of murder.
But then, suddenly, in 2011, Johnson came forward to change his testimony after meeting with a private investigator who worked for Loevy & Loevy and after receiving several phone calls from a top-ranking gang member in prison.
Johnson testified at a post conviction hearing that he had lied at the trial of Kirkman and Cal. The two men were not, after all, the shooters, he said. Johnson’s retraction could have meant that both men would be released from prison, just like Rodriguez, just like Solache and Reyes. But Kimberly Foxx was not the Cook County State’s Attorney at the time. Anita Alvarez was, and neither she nor judge in the case bought Johnson’s recantation. The judge kept Cal and Kirkman in prison. Alvarez charged Johnson with perjury, something that would never have taken place under Foxx.
From the Tribune:
A 43-year-old Texas man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying on the witness stand about a 1992 double murder in Chicago. . . .
“My office does not take the decision to charge perjury lightly and this charge is brought in very limited circumstances and only when it is appropriate to do so. We believe this was certainly the case in this particular matter and we are very pleased with today’s plea of guilty by this defendant,” Alvarez said in a prepared statement.
In the past four years, Johnson is the only person to be charged with perjury for recanting testimony in a post-conviction hearing in Cook County, according to the state’s attorney’s office.
And who was one of the lawyers involved in the strategy to get Cal and Kirkman out based on the retraction of Johnson?
You guessed it. Tara Thompson, the same Tara Thompson fighting to get Rodriguez out.
Defense attorneys tried to keep Johnson out of prison. They made their case in front of Circuit Court Judge Dennis Porter. Here’s what he had to say:
The thing that is a far greater concern is that somebody would come in years later and try to lie somebody out of the place where they ought to be when they have been convicted for murder.
Wouldn’t the Johnson debacle generate some suspicion by the prosecutor’s office, some caution against other wrongful conviction maneuvers?
What’s going to happen when Rodriquez, a Spanish Cobra, gets out of custody? Will gang violence and gang crime explode?
What adds fuel to this legal fire is the fact that Foxx has established a pattern of rejecting or diminishing battery cases when the victims are police officers doing their job. In several of these cases, attorneys for the offenders are represented by anti-police attorneys and Loevy allies like the People’s Law Office (PLO). Indeed, the PLO is currently representing Gabriel Solache in his civil lawsuit, according to court records.
Fed up with Foxx’s refusal to protect the police, the FOP announced earlier last week that it will seek the appointment of a special prosecutor in cases where its members are the victims of a crime.
The Foxx administration vacating two old convictions that will help Rodriquez stay in the country reeks of quid pro quo, of an elected prosecutor using her office to bolster the designs of private law firms in criminal cases. Why would Foxx take such measures to toss ancient, settled cases against Rodriguez? Why would she go to bat for a Spanish Cobra gang member? Why would she pave the way for him to remain in the United States? How can Foxx take campaign donations then grant such favorable rulings to firms like Loevy & Loevy and their clients?
The Cook County prosecutor’s office under Foxx is crying out for an investigation, starting with Foxx’s rulings on the Guevara cases and her vacating two drug convictions against a Spanish Cobra gang member.
For Chicago’s police officers, it can’t come soon enough.