CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – Jermaine Jordan handed a veteran Chicago cop a doughnut bag stuffed with $5,000 in cash Tuesday morning at a busy fast-food restaurant near the Leighton Criminal Court Building, authorities say.
The bribe, prosecutors charged Wednesday, was to fix a criminal case that could have sent Jordan to prison for years.
Officer Harold Rodriguez took the money and assured Jordan that when it came time to testify, he would “not remember” why he had arrested him, authorities said.
But Jordan had tipped off authorities about the alleged bribe offer. The money had been marked by Internal Affairs investigators, and the entire transaction was monitored by detectives, prosecutors said. Moments after the alleged exchange, detectives swarmed the Popeyes chicken restaurant at 26th Street and California Avenue and arrested Rodriguez, an 18-year veteran assigned to train rookie police officers on how to patrol the streets.
Bail was set at $50,000 Wednesday for Rodriguez, 45, but he was not in court after his arrest because he reported chest pains and trouble breathing. He was taken to Our Lady of the Resurrection Medical Center on the Northwest Side. He is charged with bribery and official misconduct.
A police spokeswoman said Rodriguez was stripped of his police powers and suspended without pay.
In September 2011, Rodriguez pulled over Jordan’s 2005 Bentley coupe on a purported seat-belt violation, court records show. Rodriguez searched Jordan and found he was carrying more than $7,000 in cash. He then discovered Jordan’s license had been revoked in 2003 because of a reckless homicide conviction and that he had two previous arrests for driving without a valid license, according to records.
With his record, Jordan faced up to 15 years in prison for allegedly driving on a revoked license. He was free on bond on that case when Rodriguez allegedly pulled him over again Friday while the officer was training a recruit, according to the court records.
During the traffic stop, Rodriguez told Jordan that he “makes a lot of arrests” and “can forget about your case if you pay me $5,000,” according to the charges. Authorities did not know whether Rodriguez made the stop on purpose or by chance.
On Tuesday, as Internal Affairs detectives listened in, Jordan contacted Rodriguez to let him know he had the cash, according to the charges. The two met at the Popeyes about 10 a.m., and undercover detectives conducting surveillance at the restaurant witnessed Jordan pass the money to Rodriguez in a Dunkin’ Donuts bag, according to the charges.
City records show Rodriguez makes $84,756 a year as a field training officer. Sources said that at the time he met Jordan to collect the bribe, Rodriguez was earning overtime pay from the department while waiting to testify on an unrelated case at the courthouse.
The officer’s arrest also leaves the charges against Jordan in limbo, according to state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Sally Daly. Prosecutors intend to decide whether to move forward before the next scheduled hearing Oct. 10.
Daly said prosecutors likely also would review other arrests made by Rodriguez.