Former Chicago detective admits role in theft ring

The former chief of detectives for the Chicago Police Department pleaded guilty on Thursday to running a theft ring that stole $5 million in jewelry from traveling salesmen, Reuters reported.

William Hanhardt, 72, who retired in 1986 after a 33-year career with the Chicago Police Department, pleaded guilty in federal court to racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to ship stolen goods across state lines.

Hanhardt, whose guilty plea was delayed a week because he took an overdose of painkillers in an apparent suicide attempt, would likely receive a prison sentence of between 10 and 12 years and be ordered to pay millions of dollars in restitution, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney said. Five of the six men charged have pleaded guilty to participating in the jewelry theft ring headed by Hanhardt, who tapped into information from inside the police department to target more than 100 salesmen on their routes.

About eight salesmen were robbed of $5 million in jewels in the scheme that Hanhardt launched in 1984, two years before he retired from the police department, and that continued through 1998.

William “Cherry Nose” Brown is the lone member of the theft ring still at large.