Operation Greylord: Behind the scenes of the 1980s investigation that shook Illinois
Operation Greylord was led by the FBI and a group of U.S. attorneys. Their three-and-a-half-year undercover investigation of the Cook County court system led to the indictment of 92 judges, lawyers, policemen and court clerks.
Operation Greylord was named after a racehorse, picked at random out of a racing sheet on the back pages of the Chicago Sun-Times. The FBI agents and U.S. attorneys simply liked how it sounded.
These images take an inside look at the key players of the investigation and some of the corrupt people it took down.
Illinois and Chicago certainly have their history with crooked politicians, but the corruption of justice unearthed by Operation Greylord shocked locals and sent reverberation around the United States. A total of 93 people were indicted, including 17 judges, 48 lawyers, 10 deputy sheriffs, eight policemen, eight court officials and state legislator James DeLeo. Of the 17 judges indicted, 15 were convicted.
Judge Richard LeFevour, left, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for accepting bribes. Judge John Murphy, right, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for accepting bribes.
Judge John Devine was sentenced to 15 years in prison for accepting bribes.
Assistant State's Attorney Terrence "Terry" Hake played a key role in the investigation, posing as a crooked lawyer and gaining inside information. Hake went undercover for more than three years, wearing a wire to catch members of the court system on the take.
"I was only about two-and-a-half years out of law school, hadn't been to the FBI academy," Hake remembers. "I was told I would never practice law again in Cook County if I did this project."
Chicago FBI Chief Ed Hegarty (left) swears in Terry Hake (right) as an FBI agent.
Pictured left to right: Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Sklarsky, FBI mole Terry Hake, FBI Case Agent Bill Megary, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Reidy
FBI agents from all over the United States poured into the Chicago area to help run the operation and stage phony crimes.
To catch corrupt judges on the take, the FBI staged fake crimes. The "criminals," arresting officers and lawyers were all in on the sting. "We had to make crimes occur in certain areas that would then guarantee that the case would go to a certain court where we could get assigned to a certain judge," explains Dan Webb, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1981–85.
A Decades producer interviews former Chicago WBBM reporter John Drummond.
Mike Monico was the attorney for Susie Dineff’s husband, David. David Dineff was wrongly accused and one of a very few acquitted during Operation Greylord.
Judge Wayne Olson (left) and Attorney Edward Genson (right). Judge Olson was considered so corrupt that the FBI took the unprecedented step of bugging his chambers.
Transcript of an FBI recording that captured a conversation between Judge Wayne Olson and attorney Bruce Roth.