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12 More Men Cleared Of Drug Charges Linked To Corrupt Former CPD Sgt. Ronald Watts

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Another dozen men who say they were framed by corrupt former Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts and his crew had their cases cleared en masse on Tuesday, the latest in a string of mass exonerations tied to Watts over the past few years.

Cook County Judge Judge Leroy Martin granted the motion to vacate 13 convictions against 12 men, after Cook County prosecutors agreed to drop their cases on Tuesday, following a review of hundreds of cases linked to Watts.

Prosecutors have cleared dozens of men and women of charges connected to Watts since 2016, typically announcing the exonerations in large batches.

Watts pleaded guilty in 2012 to stealing from a homeless man who posed as a drug dealer as part of an undercover FBI sting. He admitted to routinely extorting money from drug dealers, and was sentenced to 22 months in prison.

Prosecutors have said Watts and the officers under his command routinely planted evidence and fabricated charges in order to further their own gun and drug trade.

According to attorneys with The Exoneration Project, at least 75 men and women have been cleared of various charges brought by Watts and officers under his command, with at least 95 convictions overturned since 2016. The Exoneration Project has said Watts and his officers were involved in at least 500 convictions.

"We will continue to review these cases and provide legal remedies when appropriate for the wrongfully accused as we work to right the wrongs of the past," Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx said in a statement Tuesday.


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