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Former Cop Finnigan to be Sentenced Today

By Chuck Sudo in News on Sep 8, 2011 3:40PM

Jerome Finnigan
Today is the day of reckoning for former Chicago police officer Jerome Finnigan. The real-life Vic Mackey was the cop assigned to the elite, scandal-plagued and now disbanded Special Operations Section who was the center of numerous misconduct allegations, including robbing suspected drug dealers and orchestrating a murder-for-hire plot against a fellow officer he believed was going to testify against him.

Finnigan is to be sentenced in federal court this afternoon after pleading guilty to the murder-for-hire plot in April, which he said was a "charade."

Finnigan's attorney Marc Barnett filed a court brief last week asking for no longer than a 10-year sentence for his client, citing the four years Finnigan has already spent in the Downtown Correctional Center and to account for “conditions which are intended for violent, dangerous and disciplinary problems, and, by their very design and purpose, intended to impose far greater punishment.” Finnigan's stay at DCC has shown him to be anything but penitent, making some observers wonder who the real danger may be.

By many accounts, people who've had their run-ins with Finnigan believe he should rot behind bars. The Sun-Times spoke with Barbara Heidegger, a former bar owner near Marquette Park who recounted a time when Finnigan walked into her tavern and started frisking her clients as though he owned the place.

“He was looking for cocaine, because where there’s cocaine, there’s cash, and he’d steal both,” said Heidegger, 68, who walked in on the raid after finishing a shift on her second job as a nurse. “I walked right up to him and said ‘I own this place! You’re in here hassling my customers and me, and I’m pissed!’” recalled Heidegger.

Finnigan stood there, in his kevlar vest, jeans and T-shirt, looking down at the five-foot-five Heidegger with a curious grin as his men, along with dozens of bar patrons, watched. “One officer came over and said, ‘Do you know who this is?’ And I said, ‘I don’t give a s--- ,’” recalled Heidegger, her gravelly voice nearing a shout.

“Finnigan said, ‘OK. OK. Calm down. We’re just in here because we got a call someone was selling drugs. We’re leaving. No harm done.’ But I knew what was going on, and he knew I knew,” she said.