Federal Jury Finds In Favor Of Chicago Police In 100 Pound Marijuana Arrest Case

 After a week-long trial, a federal court jury found in favor of Chicago police officers Sean Whelan and Elise Padilla, who had been sued for false arrest and unlawful entry by plaintiffs Maria Leyva and Laura Leyva. The case stemmed from a 2005 drug bust. On May 24, 2005, Officer Whelan received information from a confidential informant that the informant had purchased marijuana from Rapheal Leyva and Humberto Leyva (sons of Maria and brothers of Laura)  at 312 East 117th Street. Officers Whelan and Padilla went to the 117th Street address and spoke to Maria Leyva and advised her that they were informed that drugs were being sold from the house. Maria Leyva gave them consent to search the house and that search revealed the presence of 100 pounds of marijuana in an upstairs bedroom belonging to Laura Leyva, who had just returned home when the marijuana was found. Maria Leyva told the Officers that  she was aware there was marijuana in the house but not that much and that the bedroom where the marijuana was found belonged to Humberto, not Laura. Maria, Laura and Humberto Leyva were all arrested and charged with felony possession of narcotics with intent to sell. Maria and Laura spent two months in jail before charges against them were dropped. Humberto plead guilty to possession of marijuana with intent to sell. In the civil suit, Maria Leyva claimed that she never consented to a search of her home and that she never told the Officers she was aware of marijuana in the house. Laura Leyva claimed she had no knowledge of marijuana in the house and that the closet where the marijuana was found belonged to Humberto. Each plaintiff asked the jury to award them $3.3 million in damages, for a total of $6.6 million. The jury rejected the plaintiff's claims and found in favor of Officers Whelan and Padilla. Officers Whelan and Padilla were represented at trial by attorneys Scott Jebson and Suyon Reed from the City of Chicago Corporation Counsel's Office. Plaintiffs were represented by attorneys Joel Ostrander, Sam Amirante and Pam Curran. Judge Ronald A. Guzman presided over the trial.   

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