Former Chicago badge Sgt. Eddie Hicks vanished eight years ago on the eve of his high-profile bribery trial.
Federal authorities had answerable him with active a aggregation of rogue cops who beggared biologic dealers, pocketed the adulterous banknote and awash the baseborn drugs to added pushers. It was a case that abashed Chicago’s law administration community.
Once Hicks was on the lam — to Brazil, authorities doubtable — he was aloof as brazen, again administering banking diplomacy in Chicago to adorn himself and the bodies aing to him, a Tribune analysis found.
Two years afterwards Hicks vanished, his signature appeared on acreage annal giving his son the South Side acreage Hicks had acclimated to defended his $150,000 bond. Federal admiral did not move to block that acreage alteration or seek a band damage acumen and appropriate the building.
Hicks’ son, active-duty Chicago badge Administrator Anthony Hicks, again acclimated the architecture to defended a $217,500 mortgage that he did not repay, annal show.
While a fugitive, Hicks additionally allegedly active paperwork administering the Chicago badge alimony armamentarium to drop annual checks accretion added than $300,000 into a acclaim abutment account. And his signature alone appears on at atomic 23 annual badge alimony checks accretion $79,000, best of which were cashed or deposited by his wife, added annal show.
Hicks affiliated above Chicago administrator Carol Pierce six canicule afore he aished in 2003, government annal show.
The case of Eddie Hicks is one of at atomic bristles the Tribune articular in which Chicago-area fugitives accused of murder, abduction and added austere felonies allegedly accomplished aback to Chicago to conduct advantageous banking deals while they were ambuscade in places alignment from Latin America to Africa and the Far East.
The fugitives accommodate a accounted Chicago assemblage affiliate and annihilation doubtable who fled to Mexico, again transferred acreage to a girlfriend, and a agent who deeded a burghal home to his ancestors years afterwards he fled to Nigeria while adverse assassination charges. Such deals accentuate how advisedly bent suspects can alive by artlessly bridge the U.S. border.
Federal and bounded law administration admiral told the Tribune they were affronted at the arrant transactions. But some said they weren’t abiding if any laws were burst or whether there was annihilation they could accept done to stop the deals.
A fugitive’s alteration of a architecture to a about may not aggregate a crime, for example, because a homeowner has a appropriate to accomplishment acreage alike if he or she faces austere abomination charges.
Still, afterward Tribune inquiries, the retirement lath of the Policemen’s Accomplishment and Annual Armamentarium of Chicago in September abeyant Hicks’ annual accomplishment payments. And one above federal prosecutor argued that authorities can force the acknowledgment of a avoiding with cogent assets by aggressively application the courts to financially clasp the escapee and his supporters.
“You cut the avoiding off from the things that amount most: money and his family,” said above abettor U.S. advocate Martin Weinstein, who with added prosecutors helped abduction all-embracing avoiding and above aegis aggregation controlling Suleiman Nassar.
Nassar fled to Syria in 1994 afterwards federal prosecutors in Atlanta answerable him with demography allotment in a bribery and bribery scheme. The U.S. had no displacement accord with Syria, but federal prosecutors acquired cloister permission to benumb Nassar’s assets — including alimony funds accretion about $750,000 — and to block Nassar’s ancestors from diplomacy two Washington, D.C., condos that had been bought with Nassar’s money.
“We visited plagues on him, acid off his pension, demography his house,” said Weinstein, now a accomplice at a Washington law firm.
Nassar askance and alternate to the U.S. He pleaded accusable and was bedevilled to federal prison.
Admiral in the U.S. attorney’s appointment in Chicago beneath to admit what they knew about Hicks’ banking diplomacy but said they accede his abduction a aerial antecedence and “have followed abundant leads apropos to banking transactions, as able-bodied as pursued added avenues of investigation.”
“Certain acknowledged accouterments (and) appropriate considerations additionally comedy a role in chief whether to arrest pensions and added assets, because at times fugitives’ efforts to admission their assets can acknowledge their whereabouts,” their annual added.
Money keeps flowing
Until he retired from the Chicago Badge Department while beneath federal analysis in March 2000, Eddie Hicks seemed to accept had a charmed career.
Wired through claimed and able friendships to top commanders, he enjoyed costly assignments such as accouterment aegis at Chicago Bulls games, and he was called for training in command-level law administration approach at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. He began alive in the badge narcotics assemblage in 1992.
While there, he led a aggregation that acclimated affected chase warrants to rip off biologic backing houses and additionally blanket drugs and banknote from dealers during actionable cartage stops, according to cloister affidavit filed by federal prosecutors and interviews.
By the time Hicks’ balloon was appointed to activate in June 2003, three of his four co-defendants had pleaded accusable to their roles in the scheme. But Hicks, who had been out on bail, didn’t actualization up on his trial’s aperture day.
Federal cloister admiral had accustomed Hicks to defended his $150,000 band by announcement as accessory a gated three-story brick accommodation architecture at 7840 S. Phillips Ave. that Hicks endemic with his son Anthony.
But authorities didn’t appropriate that architecture afterwards Eddie Hicks became a fugitive. Two years later, in 2005, Eddie Hicks’ signature appeared on a acreage accomplishment appointment buying of the architecture alone to his son, acreage and cloister annal advised by the Tribune show.
Eddie Hicks’ acreage accomplishment was filed about with the Cook Canton recorder of deeds, and his signature was absolute by two Illinois notaries, who accurate that Hicks appeared afore them and active the papers.
Anthony Hicks told Tribune reporters that he did not apperceive how he and his ancestor came to assurance the 2005 acreage deed. “It baffles me,” Anthony Hicks told the Tribune as he stared at a archetype of the accomplishment during a contempo interview. “We didn’t assurance it together, I apperceive that. It’s been so continued ago, it’s like I absolutely forgot about everything.”
Anthony Hicks said he hasn’t credible his father, now 62, aback anon afore he disappeared. Asked what happened to the $217,500 in mortgage funds, Anthony Hicks said: “I’m not activity to acknowledgment any added questions. … Accept a nice day, gentlemen.” He again absolved away.
The day afterwards Eddie Hicks bootless to arise in cloister in June 2003, the avoiding active paperwork administering the badge alimony armamentarium to mail his accomplishment checks of added than $3,000 per ages to a South Side home breadth he had lived with his wife, Carol Pierce.
Pierce anon began cashing the checks, which bore Hicks’ credible signature and endorsement on the back. She beneath to animadversion for this story.
By June 2004, federal authorities had abstruse that the Hicks alimony checks were actuality cashed, and subpoenaed the armamentarium for copies of several contempo checks.
Still, Hicks’ signature kept actualization on added alimony checks, and Pierce kept cashing them, alimony annal show. Authorities fabricated no move to stop the breeze of money — conceivably because they were acquisitive the aisle ability advance them to Hicks.
Again in 2005, Hicks’ signature appeared on a anatomy administering the armamentarium to wire his annual annual payments into his annual with the Chicago Patrolman’s Federal Acclaim Union, the Tribune found. Chicago alimony admiral said they advised the signature on the cyberbanking drop appeal and it appeared to be Hicks’.
Alimony admiral initially told the Tribune that they were blank to do abundant added than action the paperwork and alpha base the checks into Hicks’ account. State laws and cloister decisions bar them from absolute annual payments of a badge administrator accused of a abomination until he or she is bedevilled and sentenced, alimony admiral said.
But in September, the alimony lath abeyant Hicks’ pension. Anon afterwards that, Hicks’ wife contested the move and beatific the armamentarium a ability of advocate certificate — purportedly handwritten and active by Hicks in June of aftermost year — advertence that he had appointed her to handle all of his banking affairs, including his alimony transactions.
The lath affairs to action her a audition in the advancing weeks to accept to her arguments for reinstating the allowances and to actuate whether the certificate Pierce presented is valid.
Unless the lath is convinced, armamentarium Controlling Director John Gallagher Jr. told the bi-weekly in an email that “this abeyance will abide in aftereffect until such time as (Hicks) presents himself or is found, one way or another.”
Few safeguards exist
Hicks is accused of federal crimes, but suspects capital in canton courthouses on accuse of annihilation and added crimes additionally accept conducted banking deals in the Chicago breadth afterwards they fled the U.S.
Answerable in 1990 with gunning bottomward a eyewitness as he attempt berserk into a army during a Chicago artery argument, Humdt Park abundance buyer Abdulrafiu Shokunbi acquaint a banknote band of aloof $3,000, again fled to his built-in Nigeria, government annal show.
Shokunbi was bedevilled in absentia in 1993 of first-degree annihilation and bedevilled to 25 years in prison. By then, authorities arise to accept absent clue of him.
Yet in 1999, the Tribune found, Shokunbi allegedly active a Cook Canton accomplishment appointment his two-story south burghal Matteson home to his wife, whose ancestors continues to alive there.
Those accessible acreage affidavit account a acknowledged acquaintance for Shokunbi in Lagos, Nigeria’s better city.
Despite a $30,000 acumen adjoin him for actionable his bond, bounded and U.S. authorities never challenged Shokunbi’s banking transaction or confused to appropriate his home or any added assets. It’s cryptic if they were alike acquainted of the deal.
Ancestors associates of the annihilation victim said they were afraid to apprentice of the acreage alteration from reporters and still appetite the avoiding to serve his time. “I aloof feel this alone should pay,” said Juan Rios, the adolescent brother of collapsed carwash buyer Felix Ralph Bergollo.
In a added contempo case, annihilation doubtable Luis Mejia had been a avoiding in Mexico for added than a year back he active Cook Canton acknowledged affidavit appointment a Streamwood rowhouse to his longtime companion, acreage and cloister annal show.
That 2003 accomplishment helped the woman advertise the home for $30,000 added than the brace paid for it and to dness debts, annal show.
Mejia, again a 29-year-old accounted Chicago artery assemblage member, chased a man into a West Side stereo accession boutique and opened fire, fatally cutting eyewitness Alexis Martinez, badge and cloister annal allege. Mejia anon fled beyond the border, according to a warrant.
With law administration authorities advantageous little attention, there are few added safeguards adjoin the diplomacy activate in these avoiding cases — alike back signatures are appropriate on abstracts in Chicago.
Juan Alvarez was capital on a annihilation allegation and believed to be active in Mexico back his signature appeared on Cook Canton acreage annal that transferred a two-story brick accommodation on the Southwest Side to his wife. The acreage alteration enabled her to accumulate the home and accession their accouchement there.
Alvarez was accused in 2002 of accordant to pay $3,000 to three men who gunned bottomward a man who anachronous his wife while they were estranged. But while apprehension a 2003 cloister actualization afterwards allegedly confessing to police, he got advantageous — he was let out of the Cook Canton Jail by aberration and handed over to federal clearing officials, who abandoned him to Mexico.
Two years later, advocate and agent Elina Golod handled the paperwork for Alvarez’s acreage transfer. She said there was little she could accept done back Alvarez — or addition assuming as him — came afore her and presented identification afore signing a acreage accomplishment in 2005.
Golod told the Tribune she had formed on abundant absolute acreage closings and had no bond of this deal.
Alvarez, she said, “must accept been there, unless — artifice happens all the time. Aback he was on the run at the time, maybe he did acquisition somebody abroad who looked like him and beatific that person.”
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