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CHICAGO — U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald confirmed that his office is teaming with the FBI to investigate “allegations of perjury, false statements, and obstruction of justice” by officers who served in the Chicago Police Department in the 1980s and who are now the subjects of federal civil lawsuits by people who say they were abused by the officers. Fitzgerald made the announcement during a Sep. 26 press conference on a separate case in which a Chicago police officer was charged with seeking to kill another cop who he thought was providing information in a local and federal corruption probe of elite officers involved in robbery. Alleged torture of people in police custody is linked to former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and officers who worked with him from the 1970s into the early 1990s. Cook County prosecutors in a report last year that found evidence of abuse, but declined to press charges because the statute of limitations had elapsed. Burge and other officers are the subject of federal civil rights lawsuits by alleged victims. The office of Chicago’s corporation counsel, the city’s top attorney, said earlier this year that there are about 515 federal civil lawsuits and additional state lawsuits pending against the police department and that the city last year paid about $26 million to settle police-related lawsuits. Separately, Fitzgerald also confirmed that his office is investigating a 1987 Chicago fire that killed seven people. Madison Hobley, who has lodged one of the civil lawsuits against police alleging a coerced confession related to the fire, was one of four death row inmates who was pardoned by former Republican Illinois Governor George Ryan in 2003 after the police abuse under Burge was revealed. “Both investigations involve matters of substantial public interest, which have generated widespread publicity, resulting in a need to assure the public that investigations have been undertaken,” the U.S. attorney’s office said in a statement, noting that no one has been accused of criminal wrongdoing at this point.

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