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Antoine White

Summary of the Watts scandal
On March 17, 2003, 21-year-old Antoine White was going to visit a friend who lived in a second floor apartment on 511 East Browning Avenue at the Ida B. Wells public housing development in Chicago, Illinois. As he approached the door, a voice called, “Hey, you, come here.”

White looked around and saw a Chicago police officer who worked with Sgt. Ronald Watts. The officer motioned White to come over.

“I followed his direction,” White later said. “That officer searched me and did not find anything illegal. After the search, about four or five other officers arrived.” When one of the officers asked White to “give us something,” White said he did not have any information for them.

One of the officers then said, “You’re going with us today,” White recalled.

White was charged with possession of 48 baggies of crack cocaine. The police report said White was spotted on the sixth floor and ran when he saw the police. According to the report, White then stopped and said, “OK. OK. You got me. I am not going to run from you.”

“These claims are absolutely false,” White said. On May 1, 2003, White pled guilty in Cook County Circuit Court to possession of a controlled substance. He was sentenced to two years 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 (CIU) 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 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, White’s conviction and 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.

White subsequently was granted a certificate of innocence, and was awarded $85,000 in state compensation. He filed a federal lawsuit in October 2022.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 5/16/2022
Last Updated: 5/19/2023
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2003
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No