06/04/2008

Chicago cop admits to robbing, framing suspects

By Angela Rozas
The Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — A former Chicago police officer pleaded guilty in federal court Tuesday to racketeering, admitting he robbed drug dealers of cash numerous times, planted drugs on people he arrested and used fake informants to secure search warrants.

Richard Doroniuk, a tactical officer since 2000, has agreed to cooperate with federal authorities and is expected to testify at the trial of his former partner, who was also charged in the scheme, according to his attorney.

Police Department spokeswoman Monique Bond said Doroniuk resigned from the department last week.

He and partner Mahmoud Shamah, both Morgan Park District officers, were arrested in October 2006 on charges they stole cash the FBI planted in a storage locker in Chicago.

As part of the FBI sting, a confidential informant led the officers to believe the money belonged to drug dealers, according to Doroniuk's plea agreement.

Doroniuk admitted to planning to commit robberies with Shamah and Larry Cross, who officials say is a drug dealer and who was also charged.

Doroniuk and Shamah "used their positions ... as CPD officers to steal money and controlled substances from people," the plea agreement said.

Cross is accused of helping the two officers by supplying them information about suspected drug dealers and posing as a "John Doe" informant for search warrants, according to the plea agreement.

The officers robbed people they stopped in vehicles or whose homes they illegally searched, taking money and drugs, Doroniuk admitted. The officers also planted drugs on some people they arrested, according to the plea agreement.

In one incident in December 2005, Doroniuk and Shamah showed up at the home of a suspected drug dealer without a search warrant, brandishing their weapons and identifying themselves as police officers, according to the plea deal. The officers then planted the cocaine from the informant on the dealer and arrested him, the plea said. The officers inventoried $306 they recovered but stole an additional $400, splitting the money, according to the plea.

According to the plea agreement, Doroniuk participated in at least 10 to 20 similar robberies.

Doroniuk pleaded guilty to two of six charged criminal counts, racketeering conspiracy and use of a gun in a crime. A sentencing date has not been set, but he likely faces almost 11 years in prison under the plea agreement, according to his attorney. He could have faced life imprisonment if he had not cooperated.

Copyright 2008 The Chicago Tribune

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