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Press Release

Former Cook County Sheriff’s Police Officer Sentenced to 7 1/2 Years in Prison for Robbing Drug Dealers While on Duty

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A former police officer in the Cook County Sheriff’s Department was sentenced today to 7 1/2 years in federal prison for robbing drug dealers of cocaine, marijuana and contraband cigarettes while on duty.

ROBERT VAUGHAN admitted in a plea agreement that he robbed eight drug dealers from 2011 to 2013, earning a total profit of $300,000.  Vaughan conducted the robberies with two other law enforcement officers, and the trio shared in the profits, according to the plea agreement.  The robberies were carried out in Chicago, Cicero, Plainfield, Lyons, Melrose Park and Forest Park.

Vaughan, 45, of Frankfort, pleaded guilty last year to one count of robbery.  U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan imposed the 90-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.

“This is the type of crime one would expect to only see on a television show,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil Harjani argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “The crimes were brazen, arrogant and detrimental to the citizens of this district.  While the victims of the offense in this case garner no sympathy – they are drug dealers and contraband traffickers – it cannot excuse the outrageous conduct by Vaughan, who committed robberies using his badge and gun.”

According to the plea agreement, Vaughan was assigned to the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) team, a joint federal, state and local initiative to combat the trafficking of illegal narcotics.  Vaughan admitted using his position as a police officer to orchestrate deals with drug traffickers for marijuana, cocaine and contraband cigarettes.  Immediately after the transactions, Vaughan would arrest and handcuff the individuals – but then keep the narcotics for himself and release the dealers without charges.  Vaughan later sold the narcotics to other dealers in exchange for cash. 

Vaughan also robbed individuals and homes of marijuana based on information he had learned from confidential informants.  He was arrested on Nov. 3, 2014, after he and another law enforcement officer robbed 70 pounds of marijuana from an individual whom they believed was a drug courier.  Unbeknownst to the officers, the individual was an undercover federal agent, according to the plea agreement.

The sentencing was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, 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.

The government is represented by Mr. Harjani.

Updated April 13, 2016

Public Corruption