News 01.15.16

Innocent Chicago Man Framed by Crooked Police Released on Thursday

In 2005, Ben Baker of Chicago was convicted of drug possession and was sentenced to 14 years in prison. But last year the

Exoneration Project

brought forth evidence that Baker had been framed by local police, and on Thursday night, he was released from the Robinson Correctional Center in southeastern Illinois and sent home to his family.

“This conviction should have never happened, but we are delighted that once the case got on their radar, the state’s attorney’s office acted quickly and decisively,” said Joshua Tepfer, a lawyer with the Exoneration Project, reports the

Chicago Tribune

.

Baker was sent to prison more than a decade ago after a sergeant with the Chicago police—Ronald Watts—and a number of the officers on his squad testified that they had arrested Baker for selling drugs in one of the city’s public housing buildings. Baker maintained his innocence. He said that he’d been framed by the police. At trial he testified that Watts had previously tried to implicate him in another drug-related case when Baker refused to pay Watts $1,000 in exchange for protection. Watts and other officers said that Baker was lying, and after Baker was convicted—at one of Baker’s sentencing hearings—the judge said that Baker’s allegations were unfounded.

In a filing asking for a new trial for Baker, “Tepfer provided FBI reports showing that at the time of Baker’s trial, Watts was already the target of an ongoing joint investigation by the FBI and Chicago police internal affairs investigators into allegations of corruption nearly identical to those made by Baker,” reports the

Chicago Tribune

. A number of years ago, Watts was “convicted on federal corruption charges after being snared in an FBI sting,” writes the

Tribune

.

Sally Daly, spokesperson for State Attorney Anita Alvarez, said that a thorough investigation by the city’s Conviction Integrity Unit into Baker’s case prompted the state to drop the charges against baker.

“Based upon the fact that this now-convicted officer provided key testimony against Mr. Baker, this conviction can no longer stand,” Daly said, according to the

Tribune

.

Read more about Baker and his case here:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct- drug-charges-dismissed-police-corruption -met-0115-20160114-story.html

or


http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-drug-charges-dismissed-police-corruption-met-20160113-story.html

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