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CHICAGO — Prosecutors in Illinois have dropped at least 15 court cases that hinged on the word of a former Chicago police officer who’s now charged with perjury and forgery after he got dozens of traffic tickets dismissed by testifying each time that his girlfriend had stolen his car.
Jeffrey Kriv is accused of lying under oath 44 times to get out of speeding, parking and red light camera tickets involving his personal vehicles.
In his 26 years as a Chicago officer, Kriv was known for being one of the city’s most prolific drunken-driving enforcers, which means many more pending cases in which he was an arresting officer could be in peril. The most recent DUI arrests he made involve allegations of dangerous driving.
On just one morning this month, an assistant state’s attorney made motions declining to prosecute seven cases where Kriv was the arresting officer, some of which dated to 2021. The assistant state’s attorney offered no reason, but in court, defense attorneys mentioned Kriv’s alleged credibility issues.
“This is the officer who has been charged with a felony,” one defense lawyer told Judge Chloe Pedersen after his client’s DUI case was called.
“This is a Kriv matter,” another defense attorney said as his client’s case was dismissed.
While Kriv retired in January just before he was charged criminally, he had faced nearly 100 misconduct complaints from citizens and fellow officers in his tenure on the force. ProPublica and the Chicago Tribune previously detailed Kriv’s long history of alleged misconduct as an officer and his current legal trouble. Prosecutors charged him in January with four counts of perjury and five counts of forgery, all felonies, in connection with four of the traffic tickets he accrued. He has pleaded not guilty.
The Chicago Police Department knew in early 2022 that the Office of Inspector General was investigating Kriv for lying to get out of tickets. Then, on Oct. 28, the state’s attorney’s office added Kriv to its list of officers whose credibility issues meant the office would not call them to testify in criminal cases, sometimes called the do-not-call list.
But the Police Department would not answer ProPublica when asked why it kept Kriv on the streets until January, when it stripped him of police powers.
In those few months, Kriv made two dozen arrests and issued seven traffic citations, according to Police Department records obtained by ProPublica. He was the primary arresting officer in 18 of those cases; charges already have been dropped in seven of them. A spokesperson for the Police Department declined to comment.
The state’s attorney’s office said there are 10 pending felony cases in which Kriv was the arresting officer. Two cases filed after he was put on the do-not-call list are moving forward; the other eight cases remain under review, a spokesperson said.
There may be other cases — most of them likely misdemeanor DUIs — involving Kriv that are still pending. The state’s attorney’s office said it does not track misdemeanors, and the Cook County clerk’s office and chief judge’s office also said they did not have that information. Most DUI cases are misdemeanors, however, and Kriv regularly made about 100 arrests a year on DUI charges, according to annual counts published by an anti-drunken-driving group. Kriv estimated last year that hundreds of his cases might be awaiting an outcome.
Kriv’s attorney, Tim Grace, told reporters that he and his client would not comment for this story, though Kriv has twice emailed reporters to defend himself against misconduct complaints and call ProPublica’s reporting biased, including in an email last week.
In a 2,000-word email sent in June, he said that he had nearly 150 honorable mentions and two life-saving awards and was consistently one of the city’s top arresting officers for DUI charges. He also criticized other officers, a judge and the Police Department as a whole.
“I’ve been on the job for 27 years and I was a worker. Any officer that works will get complaints. Some false, some true,” Kriv wrote. “I could do what many, many officers do and that would be nothing.”
Kriv also sent a strongly worded email to a prosecutor last November, while he was still working as a police officer, after he learned he would not be allowed to testify about arrests he made. In the email, he defended his honesty and threatened to “not go out of my way to arrest people for DUI” going forward.
“My reputation as a Chicago Police Officer is immaculate and all my testimony on any case that I have been involved in is spot on,” he wrote to Assistant State’s Attorney Emily Leuin, after calling her a coward. ProPublica obtained the email through a public records request.
“Go ahead and dismiss my cases where someone was seriously hurt because the offender was drunk. This is something you have to live with but by all accounts, you obviously have no qualms about doing so. I’m sure [anti-drunk-driving groups] will like to know what is going on with the dozens, if not hundreds of cases of mine that are currently pending an outcome,” he wrote.
Leuin did not respond to a request for comment.
Despite his threats, Kriv did make DUI arrests for the rest of his tenure as an officer. He arrested a Chicago man in December 2022 after he said he watched the driver go the wrong way on a one-way street and then go through a stop sign. “Very strong odor of alcoholic beverage on breath, slurred/thick-tongued speech, glassy eyes, confused,” Kriv wrote in the charging documents.
That case was dismissed in April.
Other cases, meanwhile, are moving forward despite Kriv’s indictment. In traffic court this month, defense attorney Steve Roach asked the prosecutor whether Kriv, who made the arrest, would be subpoenaed in his client’s DUI case. The prosecutor said no, leaving Roach to wonder how the state could continue with its case.
“Because you’ve got a primary arresting officer who has an indictment against him which involves questions of one’s honesty, I wouldn’t be playing games with these cases,” Roach said in an interview.
The Cook County public defender’s office is representing several people in Kriv’s arrest cases. A spokesperson said that in cases the state continues to pursue, the office will demand trials and the state will have to decide whether to make its cases without Kriv.
The collapse of Kriv’s cases shares some similarities with the problematic DUI arrests made by Chicago police officer John Haleas nearly 20 years ago. Even after the police administration confirmed that Haleas had falsified reports in DUI arrests, he remained on duty. (In fact, he is still a Chicago police officer, though he was later convicted of attempted obstruction of justice and the department tried to fire him.)
There’s also a key difference between Haleas and Kriv: how the state’s attorney has reacted to pending court cases. The state’s attorney dismissed more than 150 of Haleas’ pending cases when he was found to have lied.
The state’s attorney’s office in July made public its list of officers in Cook County who it has barred from testifying in criminal cases — more than 300 officers in all, the vast majority of them from the Chicago Police Department. About 60 officers were added this year, and the office adopted a new policy last month that spells out prosecutors’ duty to disclose its problematic witnesses to defendants.
“The culture that allowed disreputable law enforcement officers to testify in court propelled Cook County’s reputation as the wrongful conviction capital of the country,” State’s Attorney Kim Foxx said in a press release about the disclosure list.
Chicago has a long history of scandalous cops whose cases fell apart when their own corruption or misdeeds were revealed. Over the years, officials have grappled with how to handle the fallout in court, as well as what to disclose to defendants and the public about these cases.
A spokesperson for the state’s attorney’s office said the list of officers with credibility issues is public and that disclosures to defendants would be made when evidence is typically shared.
ProPublica contacted more than a dozen defense attorneys currently representing clients arrested by Kriv, and only one said he had been notified by a prosecutor that Kriv was barred from testifying. Other lawyers were unaware that Kriv would not be called as a witness. One said the state’s attorney’s office had left his case “in limbo” and he is skeptical that the prosecutor can mount a case without Kriv.
“Every time I show up, the state’s attorney doesn’t know what’s going on,” said defense attorney Marco Rodriguez, who is representing a client in a DUI case.
Among the Kriv cases that have been dismissed is one from October 2022 involving a woman who was idling in a crosswalk but asleep, according to Kriv’s police report. He noted in the report that there was vomit on the car seat and on the woman’s pants. Her blood alcohol content was 0.19%, more than twice the legal limit to drive, according to the report, obtained through a public records request.
Prosecutors dropped the case against her in March.
Even in his last weeks as a police officer, Kriv arrested at least five people over four days on DUI charges, including a 41-year-old driver he said he’d found on Dec. 10 passed out behind the wheel of his running Honda Accord in the middle of a dead-end street. The man “seemed confused” and the “whole front end” of his car was damaged and the tires shredded.
Kriv noted that the driver had an explanation for the car’s damage.
He wrote that the man “stated his car was like that from his girlfriend as it was her fault previously.”
That case also has been dismissed.