Terrence Hake, a former Cook County State’s Attorney turned F.B.I. agent, tells the true story about his fascinating yet dangerous undercover work, posing as a crooked prosecutor turned crooked defense attorney, bribing crooked court clerks and judges, to fix cases and catch them on tape. In the pursuit of justice, he is forced to befriend and betray corrupt and powerful people, some of them armed, while wearing a wire and ultimately testifying against them in a new book titled Operation Greylord.
This book reveals the rampant corruption in the Cook County courts in the early 1980’s when justice was for sale in many courtrooms, and money changed hands at every level, leading to 92 indictments, including 17 judges and 48 lawyers. Terrence Hake testified against 23 defendants, of whom 14 went to prison.
I had just entered law school in 1980 and was diligently studying the “noble profession” of law. But even Abraham Lincoln, in 1850, lamented that “There is a vague popular belief that lawyers are necessarily dishonest.” Although I occasionally heard rumors of some lawyers inflating their fees “to include $xxx for the judge,” I never believed the money went beyond some greedy lawyer’s pocket.
But Greylord and subsequent investigations proved how naïve I was. By the time I began practicing law in 1984, the trials were underway in the U.S. District Court and the old ways of doing business in Cook County began to change. Fortunately, I was never solicited by anyone to get favorable treatment for a client. Throughout my career, I have been able to practice law without sacrificing my integrity, and, in most cases (except when the judge got it wrong), I understood the judge’s rulings to be based on the law, the facts and the evidence. Thank you, Terry!