Cook County Sheriff’s Deputy Samuel J. Spino was arrested yesterday on federal charges after allegedly stealing $1,100 from a residence at which he and others were executing a judicial eviction order. Unbeknownst to Spino, video cameras had been installed by FBI agents within the residence, along with cash left in a drinking glass in the kitchen of the residence. Video captured Spino allegedly reaching into the glass containing the cash and after Spino and the others left the residence, agents determined that the $1,100 was no longer in the residence.
Spino, 35, of Melrose Park, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court with one count of theft of government property. The charge and arrest were announced by Robert D. Grant, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Thomas Dart, Cook County Sheriff; and Patrick J. Fitzgerald, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. Spino will appear today at 3:00 p.m. before Magistrate Judge Michael T. Mason.
According to the complaint, Spino, a Cook County deputy sheriff since 2002, was assigned to the Evictions, Levies, and Warrants Unit and worked as part of a four-person team responsible for making entry into properties subject to eviction orders in order to clear the properties of any individuals. Once the properties are cleared, the eviction deputies leave the properties in the possession of the owners or owners’ representatives. According to the Cook County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review (OPR), eviction deputies are not to confiscate or move personal property unless drugs or contraband are found in plain view. In that instance, the drugs or contraband are to be secured, photographed, and inventoried in accordance with Sheriff’s Department standard procedures.
The investigation was initiated in April of this year after the Cook County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review brought several complaints against and allegations about Spino to the attention of the FBI. On May 3, 2012, Spino was sent with a team to execute a judicial eviction order at a residence on South Ingleside Avenue in Chicago. The owner of the property had previously allowed FBI agents access to the residence to install video cameras and to place $1,100 in a drinking glass in the kitchen of the residence. The video cameras recorded the actions of the eviction deputies within the residence as they cleared the property. In the video, Spino is seen in the kitchen after the other members of the team have left the room. Spino is then allegedly seen holding and reaching into the glass as he walks out of view of the cameras. Shortly thereafter, he is seen on camera placing an object into his pants pocket. The money placed by the agents was not found in the residence, and the Evictions, Levies, and Warrants Unit reported that no cash from the residence was inventoried with the Cook County Sheriff’s Evidence and Recovered Property Section.
This case was worked jointly with the Cook County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review.
The charged count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a criminal complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
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