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Juan Rodriguez

Other Cook County, Illinois exonerations with official misconduct
https://www.law.umich.edu/special/exoneration/PublishingImages/Cook_County_seal.jpg
On June 30, 2004, Chicago police officer Keith Herrera stopped 23-year-old Juan Rodriguez for a traffic violation in the 4800 block of South Keeler Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. Herrera was a member of the department’s Special Operations Section (SOS), which investigated drugs and gangs.

Herrera discovered that Rodriguez was carrying $6,000. Rodriguez explained that he was going to purchase a motorcycle with the money. However, Herrera confiscated and stole the money, planted a baggie of cocaine on Rodriguez, and arrested him for possession of a controlled substance.

On January 19, 2005, Rodriguez pled guilty to the charge and was sentenced to probation for two years.

In 2006, 13 members of the SOS, including Herrera, were charged with planting evidence on defendants, falsely accusing defendants of having guns, and breaking into homes and robbing residents of guns, money, and drugs and then filing false reports.

Jerome Finnigan, the admitted leader of the corrupt band of officers, pled guilty in federal court and admitted robbing people and invading homes without search warrants. He also pled guilty to attempting to arrange the murder of another officer whom Finnigan believed was planning to testify against him. Finnigan was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Herrera pled guilty and cooperated with the federal government, providing testimony against Finnigan. For his cooperation, Herrera was sentenced to two months in prison.

In 2006, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office agreed to vacate and dismiss misdemeanor battery convictions of Senaca and Tari Adams, who were falsely accused of attacking members of the SOS Unit. Others wrongly convicted based on misconduct by members of the SOS unit included Terrance Thompson and Gloria Salcedo.

The SOS unit was disbanded in 2007.

In 2018, Rodriguez’s attorney, Michael Byrne, asked the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit to investigate the case. On January 9, 2019, the prosecution agreed to vacate the conviction and the drug possession charge was dismissed.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 3/13/2020
State:Illinois
County:Cook
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2004
Convicted:2005
Exonerated:2019
Sentence:Probation
Race:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:23
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No