After almost three decades, the Chicago attorney who went undercover for the FBI in the Greylord investigation is telling his personal story in a new book.
Terry Hake wore a wire for the feds for three and half years, and then testified against corrupt judges for a decade after that.
Thirty five years after he wore a hidden recording device for the FBI, Terry Hake still remembers how he concealed the microphones and wires under his clothing and placed the recorder itself down near his waist.
“I wore it under my belt, because people tend not to touch you in that area,” said Hake.
Hake was a boyish looking young prosecutor when he quietly complained about the ongoing corruption he witnessed at the criminal courts building at 26th and California. The FBI asked him to wear a wire, and by doing that he helped federal prosecutors document payoffs among clerks, attorneys, police and judges.
In December 1983, then U.S. Attorney Dan Webb announced the first indictments of the Greylord Investigation. Eventually 15 judges were convicted, along with 50 attorneys.
“There were tense moments, occasionally, but, being young and single at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Hake.
On Sunday, Hake was anything but undercover. He was up front for a panel discussion with several other authors at the American Bar Association's annual meeting. His new book describes his experience as an FBI mole, including a close call with one of his targets.
“This attorney puts his hand on my tape recorder, and says to me, 'my god, what do you have on? A gun?' And I convinced him that it was a back brace and that I had thrown my back out. By the end of the day I guess he bought the story because he referred me to his masseuse,” said Hake.
In his book, Hake says his early role as a prosecutor who could be paid off alienated many of his co-workers.
'I might as well have become a leper," he wrote.
“They saw me associating with all these lawyers of questionable reputation, to put it nicely, and they were afraid to associate with me then. One lawyer that I worked with started calling me ‘Terry Take.’”
But he's no longer "Terry Take". After Greylord, he worked for the RTA, the Justice Department, and the Cook County Sheriff. Now he's back as an Assistant Cook County State's attorney in a judicial system that appears to be pretty clean.
Hake says the toughest moments during his undercover role came when he realized he'd have to turn on his closest friend, an attorney who had offered him a bribe. He says he did a lot of soul searching, and then did his job.