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Alvin Waddy

Other Cook County Exonerations with Official Misconduct
On April 4, 2007, 21-year-old Alvin Waddy was playing dice and socializing in the lobby of a building in the Ida B. Wells public housing complex in Chicago, Illinois, when police came in.

Chicago police officers led by Sgt. Ronald Watts ordered more than two dozen people to stand facing the wall as the officers searched them for drugs and weapons.

When nothing illegal was found, an officer claimed to have found some drugs on a windowsill about 25 to 30 feet away. The officers grabbed Waddy and another man, and said the drugs were theirs.

Waddy was arrested on a charge of possessing 30 baggies of crack cocaine. On August 6, 2007, Waddy pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to three years in prison and was released on May 1, 2008.

In 2012, Watts and fellow officer Kallatt Mohammed were caught on tape stealing money from a man they believed was a drug courier, but who was in fact working as a confidential FBI informant. In 2013, Watts and Mohammed pled guilty in U.S. District Court to taking money from the informant. Mohammed was sentenced to 18 months in prison, and Watts was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Federal prosecutors said Watts “used his position as a sergeant with the Chicago Police Department to shield his own criminal activity from law enforcement scrutiny. He recruited another CPD officer into his crimes, stealing drug money and extorting protection payments from the drug dealers who terrorized the community that he [Watts] had sworn to protect.”

In 2006, Ben Baker was convicted twice—once alone and a second time with his wife, Clarissa Glenn, on charges of narcotics possession based on false testimony from Watts. In 2015, Joshua Tepfer, an attorney at the Exoneration Project at the University of Chicago Law School, filed a petition to vacate Baker’s first conviction, citing the corruption of Watts and his unit. The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit agreed in January 2016 that Baker’s first conviction should be vacated, and the petition was granted. Later in 2016, a petition filed on behalf of Baker and Glenn also was granted.

Beginning in December 2016, Tepfer and attorney Joel Flaxman filed motions for new trial on behalf of dozens of men and women who claimed they were falsely convicted based on the corruption of Watts and his team. “The full known scope of the corrupt, more-than-decade-long criminal enterprise of Sergeant Watts…shows that Sergeant Watts led a tactical team of Chicago police officers that engaged in systematic extortion, bribery, and other related crimes…from as far back as the late 1990s through 2012,” their motions said.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Conviction Integrity Unit began investigating the cases and agreed that convictions should be vacated and dismissed.

By 2018, more than 50 convictions tainted by Watts and members of his unit had been dismissed.

On February 11, 2019, Waddy’s conviction was vacated and the case was dismissed, bringing the total to more than 60 convictions erased in the Watts corruption scandal. He was subsequently granted a certificate of innocence, clearing the way for him to seek compensation from the state of Illinois. In May 2019, Waddy was awarded $70,000 in state compensation. Waddy also filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/22/2019
Last Updated: 3/4/2021
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2007
Sentence:3 years
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No