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Sergio Garcia

Other Cook County Exonerations with Official Misconduct
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On November 17, 2011, 24-year-old Sergio Garcia was sitting in the passenger seat of a car parked in front of a restaurant in a Schaumburg, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, when Schaumburg police officers Matthew Hudak and Terrance O’Brien approached.

In a report they filed later, the officers said that they had information from a confidential informant that Garcia was about to make a drug deal, that they arrested Garcia and that they confiscated more than 100 grams of cocaine. Garcia was charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.

Garcia claimed that the officers planted the narcotics and that they filed false reports. However, after his defense attorney warned him that if he went to trial and were convicted he would receive a very long prison term, Garcia pled guilty on September 12, 2012 to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

In January 2013, Hudak, O’Brien and a third Schaumburg police officer, John Cichy, were indicted on federal corruption charges alleging that they stole drugs and money from drug dealers and then funneled the drugs back onto the street. The investigation of the officers began after nine ounces of cocaine were found in a storage shed in Carol Stream, Illinois, another nearby Chicago suburb. That led to an informant who told authorities he was selling cocaine that the officers had supplied to him. All three officers immediately resigned.

Hudak pled guilty and was sentenced to 26 years in prison. O'Brien pled guilty and was sentenced to 24 years in prison. Cichy was still awaiting trial in May 2016.

In 2014, Garcia filed a petition seeking to vacate his conviction. The petition was granted on July 24, 2014. On August 19, 2014, the prosecution dismissed the charge and Garcia was released.

In 2015, Garcia filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Schaumburg police department. The lawsuit was still pending in June 2016.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 6/8/2016
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2011
Convicted:2012
Exonerated:2014
Sentence:11 years
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:24
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No