Suit Alleges Probation Officers, Chicago Cops, and FBI Conspired to Conduct Warrantless Searches

Orangelo Payne, 35, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the FBI, Chicago police, the Cook County probation department, an FBI agent as well as individual police and probation officers. He alleges that while he was on probation for a drug offense in 2013, his home was illegally searched by an FBI agent and probation officers, who found an antique shotgun. This led to 16 months in jail for Payne, before the gun charges were eventually dropped.

The lawsuit alleges that there were improper partnerships between probation officers and law enforcement agencies. Payne alleges that the probation department did not investigate or discipline these probation officers, thereby encouraging misconduct.

Less than a year ago, the Tribune ran a story alleging that the probation department’s gang unit improperly worked with the FBI and other agencies to conduct warrantless and possibly illegal searches. The former Deputy Chief of the gang unit is one of the defendants in Payne’s case.

The allegations arise out of different standards for the different agencies in conducting a search and arrest. Probation officers only need “reasonable suspicion” to conduct surprise searches of probationers’ homes without warrants, while police departments and the FBI must have “probable cause.” The Tribune revealed in their investigation that the FBI and police were acting in conjunction with the probation officers in conducting the searches, thereby surpassing their probable cause and warrant requirements.

Payne is alleging that probation officers and an FBI agent showed up at his apartment in Bronzeville and searched his home due to the fact that he was on probation. They also questioned him regarding the murder of an FBI informant who had connections to Payne’s family’s business. Because the antique gun was found during the search, Payne was charged with illegally possessing a gun and violating his probation.

No comment was given by any of the agencies involved.

Probation officers conspired with FBI, cops for illegal searches, suit claims, April 15, 2015, www.chicagotribune.com
Report says Chicago police, FBI joined in warrantless probation searches; law firm to investigate, May 22, 2014, www.abajournal.com

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