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FORD HEIGHTS COUNCILMAN ARRESTED IN DRUG INVESTIGATION

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UPDATE: Viverette is now being held on $90,000 bond as a result of today's charge and the two pending cases. An investigation is also underway into why a village tractor was parked in Viverette's yard, which had been freshly mowed.

Friday, April 30, 2010 — A member of the Ford Heights Village Board will appear in Markham bond court Friday morning after he was arrested at his home as part of a months-long undercover drug investigation, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced.

Jimmy ViveretteJimmy Viverette, 60, of the 1500 block of Embassy Lane, is charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. He was taken into custody after an early morning raid at his home and a neighboring home on Thursday. The main target of the investigation, who lives next door to Viverette and who is dating Viverette’s daughter, was not home at the time of the raid. One of Viverette’s sons was the target of the raid on Viverette’s home and also wasn’t home.

Investigators believe there was a relationship between those living in the homes and heavy drug activity on the block. Investigators were targeting a large amount of cocaine but learned it had been moved shortly before officers swept in. Sheriff’s gang officers, along with officers from the sheriff’s Hostage Barricade and Terrorism Unit, were involved in the raid.

When police entered Viverette’s home and detained him, he asked for his pants, pointing to a pair nearby. Police found two grams of cocaine in his pants pocket, valued at approximately $300, in the same pocket as Viverette’s identification and a gold star badge identifying him as a member of the village board.

At the neighboring house, police recovered a 9mm handgun with two fully loaded magazines, which had been flagged as being stolen from Park Forest and which other investigators believe was used in a recent violent crime.

Viverette has been arrested for felony drug possession three times in 21 months and currently is awaiting trial for a drug possession arrest and another for battery to a police officer.

The pending possession charge came as a result of his arrest in February 2009 by sheriff’s police officers conducting surveillance on drug dealing happening on a Ford Heights street.

In that case, the officer watched Viverette conduct a hand-to-hand transaction with a man on a street corner before driving away. When Viverette committed a traffic offense a few blocks later, he was pulled over and when he removed his wallet to retrieve his identification, a bag of cocaine fell from his hand, resulting in his arrest.

Also pending is a charge of battery to a police officer, stemming from a May 2009 incident at a Ford Heights liquor store. There, a heavily intoxicated Viverette became angry after store employees refused to sell him any more alcohol. He began throwing store merchandise at the clerk until he was approached by a sheriff’s police officer. Viverette punched the officer three times. Two of his sons then entered the store and one hit the officer, while the other began throwing merchandise. Both were also arrested and criminally charged.

Viverette has been free on bond since that arrest and has continued to serve in his capacity as a village trustee.

The Cook County Sheriff has been the only police agency in Ford Heights for two years, since Ford Heights police officers stopped showing up for work because the village could no longer afford to pay them.

Since then, Dart has shifted existing resources to assign 12 officers to patrol the village on a full-time basis. Additionally, gang and narcotics officers regularly spend their days in Ford Heights. Cook County taxpayers spend about $2 million a year to police the village.

Dart has also recently assigned work-release crews to help clean up litter and garbage in the village, while also coordinating tree and flower planting programs and operating a summer camp for children there, pairing them up with officers who work in their community.

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