Federal Grand Jury Indicts Former Suburban Chicago Police Officer for Allegedly Extorting Cash Payments From Local Towing Businesses

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

CHICAGO — A police officer in Harvey, Ill., threatened to interfere with local towing companies’ ability to compete for city work unless they paid him cash and other benefits, according to a federal indictment.

From 2011 to 2019, DERRICK MUHAMMAD served as a Harvey Police Officer and oversaw the Harvey Police Department’s Traffic Division.  The role provided Muhammad with the authority to assign City of Harvey towing work to private towing companies.  An indictment returned Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Chicago alleges that Muhammad conspired with a relative to obtain cash, cars, and other benefits from the towing companies on the understanding that, absent such payment, Muhammad would interfere with the ability of the companies to compete for City of Harvey towing work.

The indictment charges Muhammad, also known as “Rick,” 73, of South Holland, Ill., with conspiracy, extortion, and bribery.  The indictment seeks forfeiture from Muhammad of approximately $100,000.  Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.

The indictment was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI; and Brandon Gardner, Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General in Chicago.  The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean J.B. Franzblau.

The public is reminded that an indictment is not evidence of guilt.  The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

The conspiracy and extortion charges are each punishable by a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, while the bribery charge is punishable by up to ten years.  If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.