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Activists upset with Fiorito development

by Sam Worley Windy City Times 2010-02-10 LINK

GLN permalink 2-10-2010

Members of the LGBT community expressed dismay after the Cook County State's Attorney's office announced that it would not seek charges against police officer Richard Fiorito. Fiorito, who separately is the subject of a federal civil-rights lawsuit, was under investigation for allegedly falsifying DUI arrest reports.

LGBT activists, including members of the Gay Liberation Network ( GLN ) , have demanded charges against Fiorito, as well as his removal from the police force ( pending results of a CPD internal affairs investigation, he is currently on administrative duty ) . Those activists - as well as plaintiffs in the lawsuit against him - accuse Fiorito of operating with an anti-gay animus, including using anti-gay slurs over the course of arrests.

Fiorito works out of the 23rd district, which covers the Boystown area.

Mary Cay Marubio, a criminal defense lawyer who has represented some of Fiorito's DUI arrestees, said that she was "disappointed" at State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's decision not to pursue the investigation into Fiorito.

"I don't think the right decision was made," Marubio said.

Andy Thayer - whose group, GLN, has organized protests against Fiorito - said that Alvarez's office's refusal to continue the investigation "says volumes about their disrespect toward LGBT citizens."

Thayer alleged that of the nearly 40 plaintiffs in the civil case against Fiorito, the state's attorney's office interviewed only four. "We had evidence they weren't doing a serious investigation," Thayer said.

He speculated that because the state's attorney's office continued to use Fiorito's testimony against DUI arrestees until November 2009, Alvarez declined to bring charges in order to spare her office the embarrassment of having prosecuted defendants with tainted testimony. Windy City Times first reported the lawsuit against Fiorito in March 2009, the same month that Alvarez ordered a grand jury to look into his activities.

Marubio concurred with that assessment. "I don't know that they want to open that can of worms," she said.

Another attorney familiar with the case, who asked not to be named, said that the state's attorney interviewed only five of the 34 people who have filed lawsuits against Fiorito. Sally Daly, a spokesperson for Alvarez's office, said that "inconsistencies" between what was alleged in the lawsuit and what was found in the criminal investigation accounted for that office's decision to drop the case. Daly told Windy City Times last week that the office had "interviewed dozens of witnesses" over the course of the investigation.

Chicago Police Department spokesperson Roderick Drew said that the internal-affairs investigation into Fiorito is ongoing. "The decision not to press charges," Drew said, "means [ the CPD doesn't ] have to put the internal review on hold due to any criminal proceedings."


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