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Watch the Decades original documentary 'Operation Greylord'

Today’s headlines are filled with questions about fairness in the criminal justice system. While our politicians debate whether the system is rigged, from the echoes of the past there emerges a tale of corruption, backroom deals and institutional greed. 

In one of the largest undercover stings in FBI history, Operation Greylord exposed an extensive abuse of the public trust within the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. For years, bribery and kickbacks between judges, lawyers, police officers and court clerks saw the law sidestepped in favor of greed.

"There are judges who believe that because they're wearing a robe that no one can touch them." — Dan Webb, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, 1981–85

In this Decades special documentary, we turn our lens on the architects of Operation Greylord. The key players who for three-and-a-half years in the 1980s embarked on deep undercover work, using a system of moles, wire taps and staged crimes throughout the city of Chicago. You’ll hear first person accounts from the men who risked their careers and reputations to bring the corrupt system to its knees.

Operation Greylord exposes the challenges when corruption is so deeply rooted.  You’ll hear the gut-wrenching reality of those caught in the middle of a fight where the difference between right and wrong isn’t always so clear.

It’s a case that harkens to the challenges inherent in our system, and the struggles that remain as the public demands a level playing field. The riveting half-hour documentary pulls back the curtain of systematic corruption and charts the uneasy path to justice.

Operation Greylord can be seen April 15 on the Decades Network. Visit our schedule for more information.

Want to know more? Dig through the case files here on

Check out our slideshow of behind the scenes photographs.

Read actual transcripts and documents used to put away corrupt justice officials.

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