12/04/2001

Retired Chicago Officers Indicted

CHICAGO (AP) -- Five men, including two retired Chicago police sergeants, have been charged with plotting to steal drugs and cash from drug dealers over the past decade.

The federal grand jury indictment was unsealed Tuesday, one day after the arrest in Las Vegas of Larry Hargrove, 57, who retired as a sergeant in March 2000 after 31 years.

Also indicted were Eddie C. Hicks, 52, a retired sergeant with 30 years on the force; Lawrence W. Knitter, 42, a former police motor pool mechanic; and Matthew L. Moran, 56, a former civilian employee.

A fifth man who was also indicted - Albert M. Fontana, 45 - never worked for the police department.

The indictment charges that Hargrove, Hicks, Moran and Knitter plotted to get cash, narcotics and other property from drug dealers through robbery, extortion and theft.

Fontana was indicted on drug distribution and attempted possession charges.

Hicks, Moran and Knitter were arrested Feb. 1 after they allegedly tried to steal cocaine from what they thought were two drug dealers' apartments. They were caught during the attempted theft in an undercover sting operation executed by the FBI, according to the indictment.

The indictment quoted an unnamed witness as saying the men were part of a "rip-off crew" that got search warrants and raided the apartments of drug dealers, grabbing cash and narcotics but not arresting anyone.

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