Former Oak Park police officer Mani Adams entered into a plea agreement with federal prosecutors Monday. The plea agreement was a “blind plea,” one in which no sentencing is agreed to beforehand. According to federal sentencing guidelines, Adams now faces between 18 and 44 months in federal prison when he is sentenced on Dec. 6 by Federal Judge James F. Holderman, who has a reputation as a strict judge, according to a law enforcement source.
Adams has been expected to enter a plea deal since one of his co-defendants, David Wilkins, enetered into a plea agreement last month in which he agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Adams other co-defendant, Donald Brown, has since also entered into plea agreement.
Police Chief Rick Tanksley said Tuesday that he would reserve comment on Adams until after his sentencing in December.
“This case is not over until Mani Adams is sentenced,” Tanksley said. “Therefore I’ll hold my comments until that time.”
A seven-year veteran officer, Adams was on a career fast-track in the department at the time of the hijacking, having served both as a Resident Beat Officer and a School Resource Officer, police officials said. Along the way, he met Brown and Wilkins, with whom he reportedly played basketball in and around Oak Park in the two years prior to the 2004 hijacking.
Adams was charged in a federal indictment with conspiracy in relation to the December 2004 hijacking of a semi-trailer truck loaded with plasma screen televisions and other electronics. That scheme fell apart when, while driving the hijacked vehicle, Adams’ two alleged co-conspirators, David Wilkins and Donald Brown, hit a utility pole at the mouth of an alley on the 1100 Highland Avenue block where Adams resides. The pole fell over the truck cab, pinning it in place.
The pair were allegedly headed to Adams’ garage to store the stolen goods, for which Adams was supposed to receive a cut of the estimated $100,000 profit.
Tanksley had officially brought up Adams on 21 departmental charges in early December, 2005, for refusing to cooperate in an internal investigation into his role in the crime. A week later Adams resigned from the Oak Park force days ahead of a likely firing by the village’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners. Adams was charged with 19 counts of insubordination alleged to have occured during a Nov. 8, 2005 interview by the department’s Internal Affairs officer and a deputy chief of police. During that interogation, Adams reportedly “willfully and intentionally (refused) to answer questions” characterized as directly and narrowly related to the performance of his official duties the night of Dec. 10, 2004.
Besides the alleged acts of insubordination, Adams was charged with failing to notify his superiors at the police department in the required time frame that he was the subject of a criminal investigation by the FBI regarding the Dec. 10, 2004 theft of the semi-trailer truck containing electronic equipment.
Adams was contacted by the FBI on Sept. 27, 2005, but did not inform the department until Oct. 15. Police personnel are required by departmental regulations to inform the department of their involvement in an outside criminal investigation within 24 hours.