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Summary of recent cases brought by the US Attorney in Northern District of Illinois: October 3, 2022

Here is a brief summary of recent cases brought by the US Attorney in the Northern District of Illinois.

Chicago Journal
Chicago Journal
| 7 min read
Summary of recent cases brought by the US Attorney in Northern District of Illinois: October 3, 2022

Two Men Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing Firearms in Rockford

September 20, 2022

ROCKFORD — Two men have been sentenced to federal prison terms for illegally possessing firearms in Rockford.

U.S. District Judge Iain D. Johnston sentenced RAHIME BRIGGS, 25, of Rockford, to six years and ten months, and, in a separate case, sentenced D’LEON JOHNSON, 25, of Rockford, to four years and two months.

Briggs and Johnson pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges of illegal firearm possession. As previously convicted felons, they were prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms.

Briggs admitted in a plea agreement that he illegally possessed a handgun and rifle on Feb. 1, 2021, in Rockford. Johnson admitted in a plea agreement that he illegally possessed two handguns and a drum-style magazine loaded with ammunition on March 15, 2021, in Rockford.

Federal Indictment Charges Man With Illegally Possessing Loaded Gun on CTA Train in Downtown Chicago

September 22, 2022

CHICAGO — A federal grand jury has charged a man with illegally possessing a loaded handgun, cocaine, and fentanyl on a Chicago Transit Authority train.

The indictment in U.S. District Court in Chicago charges TERRELL WEATHERS, 29, of Chicago, with one count of illegal possession of a firearm, one count of possession of cocaine and fentanyl with the intent to distribute, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. The indictment alleges that Weathers illegally possessed the handgun, cocaine, and fentanyl on July 13, 2021. Chicago Police officers boarded a CTA Green Line train at the Adams/Wabash stop in the city’s downtown Loop neighborhood and arrested Weathers.

Weathers was previously convicted of a criminal felony and was prohibited by federal law from possessing a firearm.

The charges in the federal indictment carry a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in federal prison and a maximum of life. Arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel A. Fuentes has been set for Oct. 3, 2022, at 1:00 p.m.

“Anyone thinking of illegally possessing a firearm on public transit in Chicago needs to know that a federal prosecution could await them,” said U.S. Attorney Lausch. “We will continue to use every available federal law enforcement tool to keep Chicago transit riders safe.”

Federal Indictment Charges Man With Murdering Chicago Teenager During Robbery

September 26, 2022

CHICAGO — A man has been charged in federal court with murdering a Chicago teenager during a robbery last fall.

DEANDRE NORELS JR., 20, of Chicago, is charged with one count of using a firearm to cause a murder, one count of using a firearm during a crime of violence, one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, and one count of robbery, according to an indictment returned Sept. 13, 2022, in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Norels and a co-conspirator allegedly murdered William McGee on the afternoon of Nov. 11, 2021, while carrying out a planned robbery of McGee on the South Side of Chicago. McGee, 18, was fatally shot near the 900 block of East 98th Street in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood.

The charges in the indictment are punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in federal prison and a maximum of death. Norels is currently detained in federal custody while awaiting trial. He has pleaded not guilty. A status hearing is set for Oct. 28, 2022, at 9:30 a.m., before U.S. District Judge Thomas M. Durkin.

Chinese National Convicted of Acting Within the United States as an Unregistered Agent of the People’s Republic of China

September 26, 2022

CHICAGO — A federal jury in Chicago today convicted a Chinese national of acting illegally within the United States as an agent of the People’s Republic of China.

JI CHAOQUN, 31, was found guilty on one count of conspiracy to act as an agent of a foreign government, specifically the People’s Republic of China, without first notifying the Attorney General; one count of acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China without first notifying the Attorney General; and one count of making a material false statement to the U.S. Army. The jury acquitted Ji on two counts of wire fraud.

The conviction for acting as an unregistered Chinese agent is punishable by up to ten years in federal prison, while the conspiracy and false statement convictions are each punishable by up to five years. U.S. District Judge Ronald A. Guzman did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Evidence presented at the two-week trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago revealed that Ji worked at the direction of high-level intelligence officers in the Jiangsu Province Ministry of State Security, a provincial department of the Ministry of State Security for the People’s Republic of China. Ji, a Chinese citizen residing in Chicago, was tasked by Xu Yanjun, a Deputy Division Director within the Ministry of State Security, with providing an intelligence officer with biographical information on certain individuals for possible recruitment by the JSSD. The individuals included Chinese nationals who were working as engineers and scientists in the United States, some of whom worked for U.S. defense contractors. This tasking was part of an effort by the Jiangsu provincial department to obtain access to advanced aerospace and satellite technologies being developed by companies within the U.S. Xu was convicted last year in the Southern District of Ohio of conspiracy and attempting to commit economic espionage and theft of trade secrets.

In 2016, Ji enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves under the Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest program, which authorized the U.S. Armed Forces to recruit certain legal aliens whose skills are considered vital to the national interest. In his application to participate in the MAVNI program, Ji falsely stated that he had not had contact with a foreign government within the past seven years. In a subsequent interview with a U.S. Army officer, Ji again failed to disclose his relationship and contacts with a foreign intelligence officer.

Former Chicago Police Officer Charged With Federal Civil Rights Violation

September 28, 2022

CHICAGO — A former Chicago Police Officer has been indicted on a federal civil rights charge for the alleged kidnapping and aggravated sexual abuse of an individual while on duty.

JAMES SAJDAK, 64, of Chicago, is charged with one count of deprivation of rights under color of law, according to an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Sajdak is alleged to have kidnapped and sexually abused the victim in Chicago on March 5, 2019.

The charge in the indictment is punishable by a maximum sentence of life in federal prison. Sajdak pleaded not guilty today during his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan E. Cox. A status hearing was scheduled for Oct. 12, 2022, at 9:00 a.m. before U.S. District Judge John J. Tharp, Jr.

Man Charged in Federal Court With Chicago Carjacking

September 29, 2022

CHICAGO — A federal grand jury has indicted a man on carjacking and firearm charges for allegedly violently stealing a vehicle from a woman in Chicago earlier this year.

MONTE HANDLEY, 18, of Chicago, stole a Nissan Sentra on Jan. 17, 2022, according to an indictment returned in U.S. District Court in Chicago. The carjacking allegedly occurred in the 5000 block of South Kolin Avenue in the Archer Heights neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest Side. In addition to the driver, another woman and a one-year-old child were passengers in the vehicle at the time of the alleged carjacking.

The indictment charges Handley with carjacking and using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. The carjacking count is punishable by up to 15 years in federal prison. The firearm count carries a minimum prison term of seven years and a maximum of life, which must be served consecutively to any sentence imposed for the alleged carjacking.

Handley is currently in law enforcement custody. Arraignment in federal court is set for Oct. 5, 2022, at 1:30 p.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Sunil R. Harjani.

Man Sentenced to Eight Years in Federal Prison for Illegally Possessing Machine Gun in Rockford

October 3, 2022

ROCKFORD — A man has been sentenced to eight years in federal prison for illegally possessing a machine gun in Rockford.

THOMAS BROOKS II, 20, of Rockford, pleaded guilty earlier this year to a charge of illegal firearm possession. As a previously convicted felon, he was prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. Brooks admitted in a plea agreement that while in Rockford on Nov. 1, 2021, he illegally possessed a handgun loaded with 17 rounds of ammunition and a “switch” device that modified the firearm to become fully automatic.

U.S. District Judge Philip G. Reinhard imposed the sentence on Friday after a hearing in federal court in Rockford.


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