"Seven federal lawsuits have been filed against a Chicago police officer that allege he made false DUI arrests, used excessive force and harassed gays and lesbians.
On Thursday, four Chicagoans filed lawsuits against Town Hall District Police Officer Richard Fiorito in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Three other people filed lawsuits in February.
All the plaintiffs accuse Fiorito of violating their civil rights by falsifying DUI charges and other traffic violations against them.
Last year, Mothers Against Drunk Driving honored Fiorito for making 313 DUI arrests between Jan. 1, 2007, and June 6, 2008, according to the group's Web site.
Attorney Jon Erickson said Fiorito made up DUI charges in a scheme to earn extra overtime pay by making court appearances on cases.
Fiorito could not be reached for comment.
In some of the lawsuits, the plaintiffs have also said excessive force was used against them, including in a suit filed in February, which alleges Fiorito grabbed Shawn Rauch by the throat in the police station, shoved him against a wall and called him a slur for a homosexual.
Of the cases filed, prosecutors dismissed DUI charges against two plaintiffs, and a jury found another not guilty of DUI. In another case, a judge ruled the officer had no grounds to arrest the plaintiff for DUI, Erickson said.
Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department, wrote in an e-mail that the city was reviewing the cases filed earlier this year and could not comment on the allegations.
Officials at the city's Independent Police Review Authority, which looks into allegations of excessive force and bias-based verbal abuse by officers, said the authority has received complaints, and they are being investigated.