February 7, 2011 / 6:36 PM / 7 years ago

State wants to end pension for Chicago cop linked to torture

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The state of Illinois wants to take pension benefits from an ex-Chicago police commander convicted of lying about the use of police torture to gain confessions, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday.

Jon Burge, 63, was sentenced in January to four and a half years in prison for obstruction of justice and perjury.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit Monday against Burge and the Chicago police pension board to immediately end Burge's $3,000 monthly pension benefits based on his felony convictions.

"The public should never have to pay for the retirement of a corrupt public official," Madigan said, in a statement.

The Illinois Pension Code states that no benefits should be paid to a felon convicted for an an offense related to police work, Madigan said.

Burge was dismissed from the police department in 1993, but was never convicted of actually torturing suspects before the statute of limitations expired. Instead, he was charged and convicted of lying under questioning in civil suits brought by victims.

Burge and detectives under his command were suspected of forcing confessions from black suspects by using electric shocks delivered with a homemade device, suffocation with plastic typewriter covers, and mock executions.

Police torture in Chicago has drawn condemnation from the United Nations, led to increased scrutiny of the death penalty for confessed murderers, cast a cloud over the police department and cost the city of Chicago tens of millions of dollars in settlements.

Burge argued that the suspects concocted the torture allegations while in jail together to help their cases and to win compensation awards from the city.

Men allegedly tortured into confessions under Burge were among those people freed from prison after being sentenced to death in recent years. The false convictions helped convince the Illinois state legislature to ban the death penalty last month. Gov. Pat Quinn has not yet decided whether to sign the ban into law.

Writing by Mary Wisniewski, Editing by Greg McCune

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