Retired Chicago Police Officer Sentenced To 18 Years In Prison For Role In Violent Drug Distribution Conspiracy
CHICAGO — A retired Chicago police officer was sentenced today to 18 years in federal prison for his lengthy participation in a drug-trafficking conspiracy that involved the distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, murder, violent kidnappings, robberies, home invasions, and obstruction of justice. The defendant, GLENN LEWELLEN, a Chicago police officer from 1986 until he resigned in 2003, was one of five co-defendants who were convicted following a two-month trial in late 2011 and early 2012. There was no allegation that Lewellen participated in any murders.
Lewellen, 57, formerly of Chicago, Las Vegas, and south suburban Frankfort, was taken into custody following his conviction on Jan. 31, 2012. He faced a maximum sentence of life and a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison. The government sought a sentence of 30 years from U.S. District Judge Joan Gottschall, who, in imposing the sentence, said that public interest in general deterrence and respect for the law, as well as the seriousness of Lewellen’s crimes, called for the 18-year sentence, even though she did not believe that he posed any risk of personal recidivism. The jury that convicted Lewellen of a narcotics distribution conspiracy did not reach a verdict on whether he also participated in a racketeering (RICO) conspiracy, and the government today dismissed that count because it would not have added any time to Lewellen’s sentence.
The evidence at trial showed that from 1998 to 2006, after he had retired, Lewellen, together with brothers Hector and Jorge Uriarte and others, participated in the drug conspiracy with Saul Rodriguez, who Lewellen had arrested in 1996 and enlisted as a Chicago police informant while allowing him to continue buying, selling and stealing cocaine. Lewellen personally participated in violent kidnappings and robberies of drugs and money, and obstructed justice by providing information to his cohorts and interfering with criminal investigations into their activities.
“Lewellen decided that he could make more money breaking his oath and the law than he could by serving and protecting,” the government argued in a sentencing memo. He “ruthlessly kidnapped victim after victim at gunpoint, restrained them, and threatened them until cocaine or money was provided to secure their release.”
A total of 11 defendants were charged in the case. Rodriguez and three co-defendants pleaded guilty and testified as government witnesses at the trial of Lewellen and four codefendants. The case began when Rodriguez and others were arrested in April 2009 after they conspired to steal hundreds of kilograms of purported cocaine from a warehouse in southwest suburban Channahon as part of an undercover sting operation.
Rodriguez is awaiting sentencing and is expected to receive 30 to 40 years in prison under the terms of his plea agreement. Jorge Urirate was sentenced to 60 years in prison; Hector Uriarte received 50 years in prison, and trial defendants, Tony Sparkman and Robert Cardena, received 42 years and 10 years, respectively.
Lewellen’s sentence was announced by Gary S. Shapiro, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jack Riley, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and James C. Lee, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago. The investigation was conducted under the umbrella of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF).
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Terra Reynolds, Steven Block and Tiffany Tracy.