Chicago cop gets probation, community service in perjury case

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A Chicago Police officer was sentenced to 2 1/2 years of probation and 250 hours of community service Friday for making a false police report and lying on the stand during a hearing involving a suburban drug case, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

William Pruente should have reported the Glenview traffic stop as it happened on June 6, 2013. But instead, he “rationalized and justified” his behavior in an attempt to protect a confidential informant who told him that Joseph Sperling had drugs on him, Cook County Judge Matthew Coghlan said.

“He [Pruente] changes the facts to legally justify the search without involvement of his informant,” the judge said during a hearing at the Skokie courthouse.

Assistant State’s Attorney John Brassil dismissed claims that Pruente’s arrest stemmed from an honest error.

“It was not a mistake. It was not an accident. It was not a technicality,” the prosecutor said. “The entire police department carried a black eye because of his actions.”

In opting not to give the 21-year CPD veteran jail time for perjury, official misconduct and obstruction of justice, Coghlan noted that losing his job and pension was punishment in itself.

The judge also took into consideration the kind words of Pruente’s fiancee, relatives and colleagues, who described the 55-year-old as a devoted father of four who rescued residents from burning buildings and stood by his friend’s side as he battles a rare blood cancer.

In asking for leniency, that friend—Tom Benson—told Coghlan, “Bill needs to be free and back out helping others.”

Pruente, Chicago Police Sgt. James Padar, Chicago Police Officer Vince Morgan and James Horn, then a Glenview officer, testified at a March 31, 2014, hearing that Sperling was handcuffed after he retrieved his driver’s license, they smelled marijuana in his car and found drugs inside, prosecutors said.

But video footage from a squad car at the scene contradicted that testimony, showing that Sperling, of Glenview, was arrested before his car was searched, prosecutors said.

The video footage later prompted a Cook County judge to dismiss charges against Sperling.

Coghlan cleared Padar and Horn of any wrongdoing in December, saying the pair had limited interaction with Sperling that day.

Morgan pleaded to a misdemeanor attempted obstruction of justice charge in September and was sentenced to a year of probation, court records show.

Morgan has since retired and Horn was fired from his department.

Pruente is currently on administrative duties, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said on Friday. But Pruente’s lawyer, Colleen Daly, noted in court that he would be losing the job he loved.

Pruente declined comment following his sentencing hearing.

In September, Sperling was charged in a deadly hit-and-run crash in Morton Grove that claimed the life of 48-year-old Denise Cavada, according to reports.

Sperling, now 26, is awaiting trial in Skokie on charges of aggravated DUI, reckless homicide and failure to report an accident.