This week it was announced that Chicago will pay $450,000 to people who were falsely accused of driving under the influence. The City was sued in federal court by numerous people alleging that one of Chicago's top DUI officers, Richard Fiorito, arrested and falsely accused them of DUI. The City has agreed to settle these cases before trial.
Officer Fiorito was honored over the years by AAIM (Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists) and MAAD for being one of the top officers in the State of Illinois for making the most DUI arrests. This highlights the dangers of awarding police officers solely for the number of arrests they make, rather than for the number of guilty people who are convicted.
Officer Fiorito, who was well known by us at the Toney Law Firm, allegedly profiled people in certain neighborhoods, such as Chicago's boystown neighborhood which was known for it's large gay and lesbian population. It's alleged that he arrested innocent people and charged them with DUI so that he could incur overtime for going to court on these cases.
Others allege he used hateful language and racial slurs during arrests. While Office Fiorito denies this, many of our clients who were arrested by him have said the same thing. This is exactly why we never plead any of our clients guilty in his cases. We fought for their innocence because we believed they were wrongfully accused and that the officer was being untruthful.
The Chicago Police Department removed Officer Fiorito from street duty after more than 130 of his cases were dropped by the Cook County State's Attorney. He subsequently resigned in December 2011 from the Chicago Police Department.
This goes to show that not everyone charged with a crime is guilty. Simply because someone has been charged does not mean anything. At least 130 people were wrongly arrested, and unfortunately this happens all too frequently in Illinois.