Chicago Cop Convicted of Tipping Off Friend About Drug Raid

File photo. Chicago police in the Lawndale neighborhood on July 2, 2017.

A Chicago police officer was convicted Thursday by a federal jury for tipping off a high school buddy about a drug raid authorities were planning for the friend’s house, the U.S. Attorney’s office says.

Ronald Coleman, 46, told his friend’s cousin police planned to search about a dozen homes in the North Lawndale neighborhood on the city’s West Side, including the friend’s house, as part of an investigation into drug sales, prosecutors said. The investigation included surveillance and wiretaps and focused on Rodney Bedenfield, the primary drug supplier, who was “an associate” of Coleman’s friend, prosecutors said.

Two cousins who played basketball with Coleman in high school testified in the case. Coleman told one of them, and the other then informed Bedenfield of the impending busts, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Coleman, a Chicago police officer working alongside the Drug Enforcement Agency on the case, knew his friend was involved in Bedenfield’s trafficking operation, according to prosecutors. Coleman contacted the friend’s cousin to tell him about the upcoming raid on June 9, 2014, prosecutors said, and the friend told Bedenfield. Bedenfield then moved the cache of drugs and “other contraband” to another location, according to authorities.

Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said in a statement that Coleman was suspended when the department learned of the charges and is now “seeking his termination.”

“Mr. Coleman’s actions were an egregious betrayal of public trust and undermine everything the men and women of CPD stand for because to all of us, this more than a job, it’s who we are,” Johnson said.

Coleman was surveilling a residence in the 1600 block of South Trumbull Avenue in June 2014 when he saw one of the cousins meeting with a known heroin supplier, the Tribune reports.

Just two days before the raids were planned to take place, a wiretap picked up a conversation between a tipster and one of the targets.

“We gotta homie that works on the task force,” the caller said, according to the Tribune. “Clean the place up.”

Because of Coleman’s tip, Bedenfield was seen by authorities carrying large bags from a residence and taking them to another location around the corner, prosecutors said. One June 12, 2014, DEA agents and police officers raided that location and found about 400 grams of heroin, two containers of lactose, five handguns, a rifle, multiple handgun magazines and ammo, authorities said. Also recovered were three digital scales, two heat sealers, a hand mixer, plastic baggies and a bill counter, prosecutors said.

Coleman, of Chicago, was convicted of obstruction of justice after a four-day trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle on Nov. 15 at 11:30 a.m.

Bedenfield, 43, of Chicago, was indicted separately on multiple drug trafficking and gun charges, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He pleaded guilty to the drug charges and was convicted of the gun charges at a bench trial in federal court, authorities said.

Bedenfield was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Published 3 hours ago | Updated 2 hours ago

Published in: Local News

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