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Former North Chicago police chief pleads not guilty to theft

Michael Newsome

Michael Newsome

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Updated: March 8, 2013 7:35AM

The former North Chicago chief of police denied official misconduct and theft charges at his arraignment Wednesday.

Michael Newsome, 51, pleaded not guilty through his attorney Doug Zeit to two counts of theft of government property, official misconduct and misallocation of funds.

He is accused of stealing more than $140,000 from North Chicago’s drug asset forfeiture fund. Newsome allegedly used this money for personal expenses including car payments, remodeling his home and his children’s education, according to Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller, chief of the criminal division.

Newsome faces a fine up to $25,000 per charge if he is convicted, Lake County Circuit Judge George Bridges said. Newsome could spend six to 30 years in prison for one of the theft of government property charges, four to 15 years in prison for the other theft of government property charge and two to five years in prison for the official misconduct and misallocation of fund charges, Bridges said. Probation is also a possibility for all but one of the theft charges, Bridges said.

“The court is very familiar with Mr. Newsome. To avoid any appearance of impropriety, I am going to recuse myself,” Bridges said after Newsome pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The case was assigned to Judge James Booras. Newsome is due back in court Feb. 14.

The missing money was discovered after Newsome resigned last February, authorities said in the wake of the Nov. 13, 2011 death of Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna who was arrested by police when Newsome was chief.

James Jackson, a retired Chicago police commander, was appointed police chief and instructed to review internal police policies to ensure the department was operating properly.

State’s Attorney’s Office investigators spent about nine months looking into the allegations before Newsome was charged with theft, authorities said.

Newsome voluntarily surrendered and posted 10 percent of his $25,000 bond.

Newsome was appointed police chief in 2005 after 14 years in the department.

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