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Gun smuggling inquiry focuses on jail officer

Friday, February 10, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter

Correctional officers probably didn't help smuggle into Cook County Jail a gun used in an apparently staged inmate shooting earlier this month, but the ongoing investigation hasn't eliminated jail staff turning a blind eye or taking bribes once the gun was inside, a law enforcement source said Thursday.

"From talking to the people already charged, it appears no guard was actively involved in getting the gun inside," the source said. "But obviously the gun got in there, and so someone wasn't doing their job."

Investigators continued to focus on a particular correctional officer assigned to the maximum security tier where the Feb. 1 shooting occurred, the source said. "He's certainly at the center of this investigation," the source said.

The officer has been questioned, but he has said he knows nothing about the gun, the source said. The officer failed to show up for work the day of the shooting, investigators said. The officer called in and took the day off, another source said.

More details emerged Thursday about the particulars of the shooting, which left three inmates slightly injured. An inmate assigned to do janitorial work after other prisoners are locked up at night is suspected of firing the snub-nosed revolver used in the shooting, sources said. The shooter was apparently so anxious about his role that he missed the first time he tried to shoot one of the other three inmates, who allegedly wanted to be slightly injured so they could then sue the county, which runs the jail.

Victims belong to same gang
The shooter then slipped back into his cell. The shooting occurred about 10:30 p.m., shortly after a correctional officer had taken a head count for the night and had gone to turn in some paperwork at a nearby office. The officer noticed smoke and traced it back to a cell, where he found the wounded inmates.

Had the shooting gone as planned, the inmates -- Gregory Sherman, Terry Martin and Lorenzo Evans -- intended to say they had been shot by a member of a rival gang, said Bill Cunningham, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff's office. All three victims belong to the same gang.
Randi White, a 21-year-old female friend of Sherman's, has been charged with smuggling the gun into the jail Jan. 26 by hiding it in her pants. She then allegedly passed the gun to Sherman by tampering with a partition, prosecutors say.

2 more charged in plot
Investigators say some of the money from a $35,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit that Martin filed helped fund the plan to get the gun into the hands of the inmates. In his suit, Martin claimed Chicago Police used excessive force when they arrested him in August 2004 on the South Side. At the time, police were responding to reports that Martin was driving a "mini" motorcycle on the sidewalk and knocking people over, said Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for the city's Law Department.

Earlier this week, prosecutors accused Martin's brother, Tracey Martin, of buying the gun used in the shooting and then passing it along to another man on the South Side. Two more men, accused of handling the gun before it was somehow passed to White, appeared for bond hearings Thursday.

William Stanback of Chicago is charged with aggravated unlawful use of a weapon. His bail was set at $55,000. Isiah Sherman, charged with conspiracy to bring contraband into a penal institution, was ordered held on $50,000 bond.

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