Disgraced Detective Reynaldo Guevara Collecting $91K Annual Pension as Cost of His Misconduct Hits $62.5M With 33 Lawsuits Pending

Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)Chicago Police Department Headquarters, 3510 S. Michigan Ave. (Michael Izquierdo / WTTW News)

Disgraced former Chicago Police Detective Reynaldo Guevara is set to collect a pension of at least $91,000 every year for the rest of his life, even as taxpayers have already paid $62.5 million to resolve a half-dozen lawsuits alleging he framed people for crimes they did not commit — with nearly three dozen cases still pending against the city, according to documents obtained by WTTW News.

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In all, Guevara has banked more than $1.4 million in pension payments since he retired on June 15, 2005, having spent 32 years, two months and 27 days as a police officer and an employee of the Chicago Park District, according to records obtained by WTTW News through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The final tally of what Chicago taxpayers will have to pay to resolve lawsuits filed by the Chicagoans who say they were framed by Guevara and wrongly convicted is likely to grow exponentially, with 33 federal civil rights lawsuits pending against the city that allege civil rights violations by Guevara, records show.

During a 2018 trial, Guevara invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 200 times, refusing to answer questions about whether he falsified police reports, framed suspects or coerced witnesses into identifying criminals.

That means Chicago officials have little hope of winning any of those cases at trial, since Guevara has refused to testify about his conduct as a Chicago police detective, and many of the people he helped convict who have sued the city have been exonerated.

Despite Guevara’s well-documented misconduct that sent 41 now-exonerated Chicagoans to prison for decades, any attempt to revoke his pension is sure to fail, since he was not charged with criminal wrongdoing, much less convicted, while a Chicago police officer.

Guevara, 80, now lives in Texas. WTTW News was unable to reach him, and an emailed request for comment sent to the Chicago-based lawyers listed as his representatives in federal court records received no response.

Most of the people Guevara is accused of framing in the 1980s and 1990s are Latino and lived in Humboldt Park, which was home to many working-class Chicagoans long before the Northwest Side neighborhood began to gentrify, a process accelerated by the construction of the 606 trail along a defunct rail line.

Illinois law allows the boards overseeing pension funds to strip employees of their pensions only if they are convicted of a felony “relating to or arising out of or in connection with” their job committed while employed by a state or local government agency.

Cases that named Guevara cost Chicago taxpayers more than $39.3 million in 2019, 2020 and 2021 alone, the most tied to a single officer identified by a WTTW News analysis.

City officials did not probe Guevara’s conduct until 2013, eight years after he retired and began collecting his pension. That report, which was commissioned by former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, cost the city $1.9 million but has never been released by city officials.

It is unclear how much Chicago taxpayers have paid outside legal firms to defend the city in lawsuits that name Guevara.

Guevara’s decision to invoke his Fifth Amendment right and refuse to testify came after an effort to strip disgraced Chicago police commander Jon Burge of his pension failed in 2011.

City officials have acknowledged that Burge tortured and beat more than 100 Black men from the 1970s to the 1990s. Chicago taxpayers have now paid $130 million in lawsuit settlements and judgments related to Burge’s conduct, including $5.5 million in reparations for torture survivors, approved in 2015 by the Chicago City Council.

Fired by the Chicago Police Department in 1993, Burge was convicted of perjury in 2010 for making false statements during a 2003 civil trial.

Released from prison in 2014, Burge died four years later at the age of 70. He never faced criminal charges related to his time as an officer, and collected a pension from the city of Chicago until the day he died.

WTTW News’ Jared Rutecki contributed to this report.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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