Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Elgen Moore

Summary of Watts scandal
On December 16, 2004, 21-year-old Elgen Moore was at an apartment in the Ida B. Wells public housing development when Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and other officers broke down the door and came inside.

After a search failed to turn up anything illegal, Moore was handcuffed. “I asked why he was arresting me or detaining me,” Moore later said. “Watts said, ‘You’ll find out.’”

The officers took $355 that Moore was carrying in his pocket. “When we got to the station, Watts asked if I wanted pizza or a soda,” Moore said. “I said, ‘No. I want to get out of here.’ Watts said, ‘You are paying for it before you go to jail.’”

After a preliminary hearing in Cook County Circuit Court, during which an officer testified that police confiscated 42 baggies of cocaine from Moore, a judge said there was sufficient evidence to proceed with the case.

On February 16, 2005, Moore pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to one year on probation.

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 badge and 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 trials 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 (CIU) began investigating the cases and agreed that the convictions should be vacated and dismissed. By the end of 2021, more than 90 convictions tainted by Watts and members of his unit had been dismissed.

On April 22, 2022, following an investigation by the CIU, Moore’s conviction, along with more than 40 other convictions resulting from Watts and his fellow officers, were vacated and dismissed. The dismissals brought the total number of convictions vacated in the corruption scandal to more than 200. Moore subsequently received a certificate of innocence, and was awarded $10,115 in compensation from the state of Illinois. He filed a federal lawsuit in December 2022.

– Maurice Possley

Report an error or add more information about this case.

Posting Date: 5/10/2022
Last Updated: 5/19/2023
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2004
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No