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Former Lyons officer pleads guilty to illegal cigarette shake down

Published: Wednesday, May 7, 2014 4:55 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:36 a.m. CDT

A former Lyons police officer pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Chicago to using his status as a police officer to shake down sellers of contraband cigarettes.

Jimmy Rodgers, 43, worked for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a investigations task force in addition to working as a Lyons officer. He admitted to stealing $37,000 in cash and cartons of cigarettes during fake police stings between June 2013 and August 2013.

According to Rodger's plea agreement, he will be fined $48,980 and faces between six and eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said Rodgers worked with confidential informants to set up stings on untaxed cigarette deals in and around Chicago. Rodgers would pay informants off and keep the cash and cigarettes after he and other officers detained the dealers. Dealers were told their phones were being tapped and were threatened into keeping the thefts quiet, according to the plea deal.

Rodgers did not turn any of the funds in to the Lyons Police Department.

"We're very proud of the work that former Police Chief Harley Schinker did investigating this matter and we're satisfied with the work of the federal government," Lyons Village Manager and Acting Police Chief Tom Sheehan said Wednesday.

Rodgers was placed on leave without pay Dec. 6, 2013, according to Sheehan. He was formally charged by the village's Board of Police and Fire Commissioners on Jan. 22 and would have been suspended without pay pending charges on Feb. 12, Sheehan said. Rodgers resigned from the department the day before on Feb. 11.

Rodger's sentencing will be held at 10 a.m. on Aug. 4.

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