Chicago Police Officer Convicted of Obstruction of Justice for Passing Law Enforcement Information to Target of Federal Drug Probe
CHICAGO — A federal jury today convicted a Chicago Police officer on an obstruction charge for notifying a high school friend that he was the target of a federal drug investigation.
RONALD COLEMAN notified his friend's cousin that police were planning to search 10-12 houses in the friend's neighborhood, including the friend's house, as part of an investigation into drug sales. The probe involved surveillance and wiretaps and centered on the primary drug supplier, RODNEY BEDENFIELD, who was an associate of Coleman’s friend. Coleman, a Chicago Police officer working the case with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, knew that his friend was involved in Bedenfield’s drug trafficking activities. On June 9, 2014, Coleman contacted the friend’s cousin about the impending search. Upon learning of it, the friend in turn passed along the information to Bedenfield, who quickly moved drugs and other contraband to an alternative location.
After a four-day trial in federal court in Chicago, the jury on Thursday convicted Coleman, 46, of Chicago, on one count of obstruction of justice. The conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle set sentencing for Nov. 15, 2017, at 11:30 a.m.
The verdict was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
As a result of the leaked information, Bedenfield was observed via law enforcement surveillance carrying large bags out of a residence in the North Lawndale neighborhood and transporting them to an alternative location around the corner. On June 12, 2014, agents and officers executed an additional search warrant on the alternative location and discovered approximately 400 grams of heroin, two containers of lactose, five handguns, one rifle, multiple handgun magazines, ammunition, three digital scales, two heat sealers, a hand mixer, plastic baggies and a bill counter.
Bedenfield, 43, of Chicago, was indicted separately on multiple drug trafficking and firearms charges. He pleaded guilty to the narcotics-related counts and was convicted of the firearms-related counts at a bench trial in federal court in Chicago. He was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shoba Pillay and Megan Cunniff Church.