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Cook County Sheriff’s deputy charged with stealing while evicting tenants

Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Chicago Sun-Times

For years, complaints dogged Cook County Sherriff’s Deputy Samuel Spino.

It seemed when Spino went into a home to evict tenants, things allegedly went missing — including video games, a video camera and a $5,000 watch, charges filed in federal court say.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Department reached out to the FBI, asking the bureau to use its tactical expertise to investigate.

Last week, the FBI set up a sting.

They stuffed $1,100 in rolled up bills into a glass inside one of the units where Spino was headed. Before he got there, though, agents also set up secret cameras.

The video caught Spino swiping the cash and putting it in his pocket, a criminal complaint claims.

On Tuesday, Spino, 35, of Melrose Park, was arrested on federal theft charges. He appeared before a federal judge and was released on a $4,500 recognizance bond. As a condition of his release, he cannot possess a firearm.

Spino has worked for the department since 2002.

He worked with the Sheriff’s Evictions Unit for the past six years, after serving four years in Courts Services. The Sheriff’s Department said Tuesday in a release that it received “credible” information in April that property had gone missing after a visit from Spino. The agency’s Office of Professional Review did an internal investigation and then asked the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office for assistance, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart de-deputized Spino, removing his badge and weapon.

“I have set very high standards for this office and because of that we take immediate action when allegations such as these are brought to our attention,” Dart said in a written statement. “Overall, the employees of the Cook County Sheriff’s Office are incredibly upstanding citizens who strive to enforce the law, so I take very seriously any situation which threatens to compromise the integrity of our operations.”

The Cook County Sheriff’s office received its first complaints about one of its deputies back in 2006.

Then, tenants complained that someone on a four-person team that included Spino pocketed their property, officials said.

The department investigated but could not substantiate the allegations.

Over the years though, the complaints persisted.

In late 2011, one tenant complained that a watch disappeared. In February, another tenant said a $5,000 watch was stolen and on May 1, someone complained of a missing Sony Handycam video camera.

Spino’s attorney, Daniel McLaughlin, had no comment.

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