Convictions tossed for 15 Chicago men; Police Sergeant manufactured evidence

Prosecutors plan to vacate the convictions of 15 men who claim a corrupt Chicago police sergeant manufactured the evidence that landed them in prison.

The men, who petitioned the Cook County Criminal Court in September seeking to have convictions overturned and set aside, were notified their request has been granted.

Thursday’s planned action is the latest chapter in a scandal that resulted in former Sgt. Ronald Watts’ 2013 conviction for extorting money from drug dealers.

State’s attorney spokesman Robert Foley said the office’s conviction integrity unit is looking into dozens of other cases and identified a pattern suggesting “corrupt activity” involving Watts and “members of his crew.”

Joshua Tepfer of University of Chicago’s Exoneration Project says Watts and others were responsible for 1,000 arrests in a decade-long “reign of terror.”