CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – A Chicago Police officer was charged Wednesday with soliciting and accepting a $5,000 bribe to let a driver off after a traffic stop.
Harold Rodriguez, 45, was charged with felony bribery and official misconduct, according to court documents.
Cook County Judge Edward Harmening ordered Rodriguez held on a $50,000 bond, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said. Rodriguez did not appear in court and has not yet been booked into the county jail, according to Simonton and a sheriff’s office spokesman.
He faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. While the case is pending, he has been stripped of his police powers without pay, a police spokeswoman said.
Last Friday, Rodriguez performed a traffic stop on a vehicle and recognized the driver as a person he had arrested in 2011 for a felony traffic violation, according to court documents.
Rodriguez allegedly told the motorist he “makes a lot of arrests, I can forget about your case if you pay me $5,000,” the court documents said.
The officer then gave the motorist his cell phone number and told him to call over the weekend, according to court documents. Instead, the motorist called Chicago Police and the Internal Affairs Division began an investigation.
The motorist called Rodriguez on Tuesday and told the officer he had the money, according to court documents. Rodriguez agreed to meet at a restaurant near the Cook County Criminal Courthouse. The conversation was overheard by an Internal Affairs detective.
Internal Affairs provided the motorist with $5,000, which he gave Rodriguez in front of undercover detectives, court documents said. The officer then said he would not remember the ticket.
Rodriguez was arrested outside the restaurant, according to court documents.
Rodriguez, an 18-year Chicago Police veteran, worked in the Ogden District on the Southwest Side. He was once a defendant in a federal lawsuit alleging he assaulted a man during a 2003 traffic stop when the motorist refused to remove a Mexican flag from his car. The driver received a $17,500 settlement from the city.
Rodriguez was also the subject of a news story for helping an ailing man carry an air conditioner to his fourth-floor apartment on a warm summer day.