In what is believed to be the first mass exoneration in Cook County history, prosecutors on Thursday plan to drop all charges against 15 men who alleged they were framed by former Chicago police Sgt. Ronald Watts and his crew.
The announcement to vacate the convictions will be made during a morning hearing before Chief Criminal Court Judge LeRoy Martin Jr., according to a statement from Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office.
It comes two months after lawyers for the 15 men filed a joint petition seeking to overturn a total of 18 criminal drug convictions, alleging that Watts and his crew framed all of them between 2003 and 2008. Watts and an officer under his command were sent to federal prison in 2013 for stealing money from a drug courier who'd been working as an FBI informant, the Chicago Tribune reports.