The owner of a suburban attorney-referral business was sentenced to a year in federal prison Friday for passing thousands of dollars in bribes to two Chicago police officers in exchange for exclusive information about crash victims and their insurance carriers.
In rejecting a defense request for probation for Richard Burton, U.S. District Judge Charles Norgle said prison time was required to deter others from trying to pay off the police. “The idea of bribing police officers is something that cannot be tolerated,” Norgle said.
Burton, who owns National Attorney Referral Service based in west suburban Bloomingdale, pleaded guilty in 2019 to conspiracy to commit bribery and cooperated with investigators.
The two former Chicago police officers involved in the scheme, Kevin Tate and Milot Cadichon, also pleaded guilty, with Cadichon receiving 18 months behind bars and Tate sentenced to a year in prison.
Federal prosecutors alleged Tate and Cadichon took bribes in the form of cash and wire transfers from Burton, who then used the information to solicit accident victims as clients for attorneys.
Court records showed Burton exchanged hundreds of text messages with Tate and Cadichon — who both worked patrol in the Calumet District on the Far South Side — that included detailed information that only the police were supposed to be allowed to view.
While crash reports in Chicago are typically not publicly available until after a processing period, officers can access them immediately — but only for “legitimate law enforcement reasons,” the indictments alleged.
The messages indicate that Burton had arranged regular “pay days” for the two officers at two-week intervals, often for $300, prosecutors alleged. Burton also expressed frustration at times that the officers weren’t getting him information fast enough to give him a leg up in the cutthroat profession.
In one exchange with Tate in October 2016, Burton texted that he could have signed up three or four new clients if Tate had gotten him names of victims sooner, an FBI search warrant affidavit alleged.
“I was sick to the stomach just thinking about it. LOL,” the affidavit quoted Burton as writing. “It’s just amazing how competitive this business is. If you’re not Johnny on the spot you can forget it.”
A year later, in August 2017, Burton appeared to get upset with Cadichon after the officer pestered him about missing a payday. Burton shot back that he was meeting with a client on Chicago’s South Side and couldn’t answer Cadichon’s messages.
“When you’re in Englewood it’s a little stressful for a brother with no gun,” Burton texted, according to the affidavit. “You know that I take no days off and I work my ass off.”
Burton then appeared to smooth things over, telling Cadichon he appreciated how hard he was working for him. “I’ll put it like this,” Burton wrote. “If I had 5 people like you I’d be a millionaire.”
Burton, who is caring for his ailing mother, was ordered by Norgle to report to prison in May.