Two veteran Chicago police officers have been indicted on federal charges alleging they took thousands of dollars in kickbacks from the owner of an attorney referral service in exchange for inside information on victims from traffic crash reports.
Officers Kevin Tate, 47, and Milot Cadichon, 46, face charges of bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery, court records show. Also charged with one conspiracy count was Richard Burton, 55, owner of National Attorney Referral Service in west suburban Bloomingdale.
The charges alleged that between 2015 and 2017, Tate and Cadichon provided nonpublic information from crash reports to Burton, sometimes using cellphones to text Burton the victims’ contact information. Burton then used the information to solicit accident victims as clients for attorneys, the charges said.
A Police Department spokesman said Friday that both officers worked patrol in the Calumet District on the Far South Side and have been stripped of their police powers in light of the criminal charges. Records show Cadichon is an 18-year veteran of the force, while Tate has been an officer for 13 years.
The FBI investigation into the traffic crash scam marked the latest in a long line of cases in which Chicago police officers were charged with taking bribes for inside information. Several years ago, a federal investigation code-named Operation Tow Scam ensnared 11 officers as well as several tow truck drivers in a plot to steer work to bribe-paying drivers while shooing others away from accident scenes.
Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson released a statement Friday calling the allegations against Tate and Cadichon, if proved, a “disgraceful abuse” of what most officers dedicate their lives to.
“The most important thing that any police officer strives for in their career is earning the trust and confidence of the people they serve,” Johnson’s statement said. “We represent a symbol of justice, and integrity is at the forefront of everything we do.”
Burton allegedly paid a total of at least $7,350 to Cadichon and at least another $6,000 to Tate in return for their supplying details on accident victims from police reports, the indictments alleged. The payments were allegedly made in cash and by wire transfer.
While crash reports in Chicago are typically not publicly available until after a “processing period,” police officers can access them immediately — but only for “legitimate law enforcement reasons,” according to the charges.
“Officers are not permitted to access or disclose information contained in traffic crash reports for non-law enforcement purposes,” the charges said.
The National Attorney Referral Service is “a public service network” that provides nearly 25,000 attorney referrals to members of the public each year, according to the company’s website. Callers are asked questions by a specialist and then given the name and telephone number of an attorney “who handles cases in the area of law that addresses their legal matters,” according to the site.
Calls to Burton’s home and business were not answered Friday. His attorney, Jonathan Bedi, declined to comment.
Public records do not indicate if either Tate or Cadichon have hired attorneys.
The conspiracy charge carries a maximum penalty on conviction of five years in prison, while the bribery charge is punishable by up to 10 years.
All three defendants will be arraigned at a later date.
Chicago police disciplinary records show that Tate received six citizen complaints from 2005 through October 2014, including one alleged excessive force that was ruled unfounded. In 2006, Tate was given a reprimand for allowing a prisoner under his watch to escape, records show. A year later, he was suspended for 10 days for violating the department’s medical roll policy.
There have also been bright spots in Tate’s career. In 2014, he was hailed as a hero by department brass after he and his partner rescued two boys from a burning home on the Far South Side by coaxing them to jump from a second-story window into their arms, according to a Tribune report.
Cadichon, meanwhile, has had 14 citizen complaints from 1999 to 2014, ranging from personnel violations to excessive force. None of the complaints was sustained by the city’s much-maligned oversight agency, according to records available to the Tribune. As a result, he was never disciplined in his career, the records show.