Excerpt from Corruption in Cook County: Anti-Corruption Report Number 3 February 18, 2010

Operation Greylord 1980-1992

Operation Greylord was one of the first undercover federal investigations that employed listening devices in a judge’s chambers. Incriminating evidence was also collected by an undercover judge and an Assistant Cook County States Attorney, Terrence Hake. Hake was incensed by the corruption he saw. He went to the FBI and then worked undercover as a prosecutor. He became a defense attorney and continued to hand out bribes to fix phony cases slipped into the system by the FBI.20

The undercover judge, Brocton Lockwood, was from Downstate Marion, Illinois. He was assigned to Cook County to help reduce a backlog of cases.21 He befriended many of the court bailiffs and other personnel and secretly taped their conversations as they bragged about envelopes of cash, open drawers, splitting up the loot and passing bribes to judges.22

The Greylord probes and subsequent convictions exposed rampant corruption, incompetence, and influence peddling in the Cook County court system23. By the end, 15 judges, 47 lawyers and 24 police officers and court personnel were convicted or pleaded guilty.24

Among the most shocking was the conviction of Judge Thomas J. Maloney, who was found guilty of taking thousands of dollars in bribes to fix four felony cases including three murder trials.25

In the aftermath of Operation Greylord, many court reforms were implemented such as limiting conversations between judges and attorneys in hallways and other non-courtroom settings and in the way judges are appointed and assigned trials.26

However former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb concluded, “In terms of convictions, Greylord is the most successful operation in the history of undercover operations. But in terms of institutional impact, Greylord has been a miserable failure. Judges are still elected to the bench by political parties and kept there by party-dominated retention elections.”27

Two books and more than1,000 newspaper articles have been written about the indictments, trials and convictions. Yet, there is disagreement about the derivation of the name, “Greylord.” It either was named after a race horse or it refers to British jurists who don grey wigs and have been called Greylords.

20.Maurice Possley, “August 5, 1983 – Operation Greylord Investigation Revealed,” Chicago Tribune, Nov. 6, 1997.

21.James Tuohy and Rob Warden, Greylord: Justice Chicago Style, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1989.

22.“Operation Greylord Winds Down,” Chicago Tribune, Jan.1, 1992.22

23.Brocton Lockwood, Operation Greylord: Brocton Lockwood’s Story, Southern Illinois University Press, 1990.

24.Book review by Jon R. Waltz, “Supernerd Triumphant – How Judge Lockwood became Greylord’s Unlikely
Nemesis,” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 7, 1990.

25.O’Connor, Matt. “Judge Maloney Found Guilty in Corruption Case.” Chicago Tribune, April 17, 1993.

26.Trevor Jensen, “Judge headed Cook County courts – Guided judicial system during federal Greylord corruption probe.” Chicago Tribune, January 30, 2008.

27.James Tuohy and Rob Warden, Greylord: Justice Chicago Style, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1989, p. 257.

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