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Burge Gets 4-1/2 Years

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 22, 2011 3:30PM

As was mentioned briefly last night in "Extra Extra," former Chicago Police Lieutenant Jon Burge was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison for his perjury and obstruction of justice convictions. the sentence imposed by Judge Joan Lefkow is more than the 15-21 months recommended by the federal probation sentencing board, but a far cry from the 24-30 years prosecutors were allegedly aiming for.

Lefkow, in her lengthy statement, also weighed in on the police brutality with which he's become synonymous. She said Burge was motivated by ambition to torture suspects and force confessions to crimes; showed a lack of respect of due process of law and a lack of remorse for his actions; took Burge's attorney to the woodshed for attacking witnesses during the sentencing who said they were tortured by Burge; criticized Burge's supervisors for not stepping in to stop him and his underlings when the allegations came to light; and said he could have evaded criminal charges if he simply invoked his right to remain silent during the civil lawsuit that eventually landed him the perjury conviction.

“Unfortunately for you, the jury did not believe you and I must agree. I did not either,” Lefkow said.

Burge's sentence should close a sordid chapter in the Police Department's history. BUt some pundits are saying that Burge's sentence isn't long enough. Lefkow tried to delicately balance her criticisms of Burge without painting him as a racist or angering cops who may have helped in the 2005 investigations of the murders of her mother and husband. She also took into consideration Burge's poor health and his notoriety of his crimes in imposing his sentence. Burge has prostate cancer and John Conroy, who broke and covered the story for the Reader for over 20 years, said the sentence could almost be like "a death sentence—and I hate to see anybody die in prison.." Conroy also said, "There are still 20 guys in prison on the basis of suspect confessions—so I don't feel like this is case closed."

Burge is to report to the prison selected by federal officials on March 16.