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More Charges Vs. Cop In Videotaped Beating

A Chicago police officer accused in a videotaped beating of a female bartender has been charged with trying to intimidate witnesses by threatening to plant drugs on bar employees and arrest customers for drunken driving, prosecutors said Friday.

Prosecutors announced 14 new felony charges against Anthony Abbate, a 12-year Chicago Police Department veteran whose alleged videotaped beating of a female bartender made international headlines.

The charges, filed Thursday, include seven counts of official misconduct, one count of communicating with a witness, three counts of intimidation and three counts of conspiracy, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

Abbate, 38, still faces an earlier felony charge of aggravated battery; he has yet to enter a plea. He is to be arraigned on the new charges May 16.

The charges stem from a Feb. 19 beating at the Short Stop Inn, a tavern on the city's northwest side, after the 115-pound bartender refused to serve a 250-pound man any more drinks.

The man, who police said was Abbate off duty, is seen in a tavern surveillance video punching and beating the woman and throwing her to the ground. Media outlets around the world have aired or posted the footage.

Abbate appeared in court briefly Friday for a previously scheduled status hearing, when prosecutors told the judge they had filed a superseding indictment to the original assault charge.

Abbate's attorney, Peter Hickey, said he was angry because he had found out from the media that there were new charges, and told reporters after the hearing that he didn't know what the charges were.

The indictment alleges that a woman acting as an intermediary for Abbate threatened that Abbate or other police officers would plant illegal drugs on bar employees or customers and arrest them if the videotape was turned over to anyone who could use it to make a case against Abbate. The woman also allegedly said customers would be arrested for drunken driving, the indictment said.

Only Abbate has been charged in the case, Simonton said.

Abbate has been placed on leave and police have said they intend to fire him over the alleged beating, which has embarrassed the city and police department.

Police faced intense criticism because Abbate had been charged with a misdemeanor until the videotape became public.

Chicago Police Superintendent Phil Cline, who also had to fend charges that his department was out of control amid reports that another videotape showed six officers beating up four businessmen, announced earlier this month that he is retiring.