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Another breach at Cook County

Friday, February 24, 2006
Chicago Sun-Times
by STEFANO ESPOSITO Staff Reporter

In the latest in a rash of security lapses involving the Cook County sheriff's office, a man waiting to appear in court slipped out of a basement lockup unnoticed and took an elevator ride alone before deputies spotted him and returned him to the lockup Thursday.
When a Cook County sheriff's deputy confronted Aamir-Kareem El-Amin, 49, on the third floor of the criminal courts building at 26th and California, El-Amin claimed to be an attorney, sources said. El-Amin was in street clothes, not jail scrubs, because he'd been arrested on the street one day earlier.
"It appears he was not properly supervised . . . ," said Bill Cunningham, a spokesman for the Cook County sheriff's office. "He should not have got on the elevator by himself."
The incident occurred on the same day prosecutors filed charges against six inmates who escaped from Cook County Jail and another who tried but failed to flee in the same Feb. 11 jailbreak.
Originally cuffed at O'Hare
El-Amin was arrested Wednesday at O'Hare Airport. He was turned away at a car rental agency because he had insufficient credit on his MasterCard, according to a Chicago Police report. But El-Amin got in an SUV anyway and made it to the exit gate before he was stopped and arrested, police said.
Thursday morning, El-Amin was in the lockup awaiting a court appearance on a theft charge connected to the O'Hare incident.
It was unclear how he managed to reach the elevator.
"That's a good question," Cunningham said. "That's something that's being investigated."
But when El-Amin got off the elevator, he was in a secure holding area on the third floor, where inmates are held before being led to various courtrooms on that floor, Cunningham said.
Later in the day, a judge set El-Amin's bail at $25,000.
Range of charges for escapees
Also Thursday, prosecutors charged inmates Michael McIntosh, Arnold Joyner, David Earnest, Francisco Romero, Eric Bernard and Tyrone Everhart with a range of charges -- including escape, aggravated arson and aggravated battery -- for the escape from a maximum-security division of the Cook County Jail.
Inmate Patrell Doss, who was caught before he could get away, is charged with aiding an escape and attempted escape.
All are expected to appear for bond hearings today.
One correctional officer, Darin Gater, has already been charged with aiding the escapees, allegedly claiming he wanted to give a political boost to former jail supervisor, Richard Remus, who is running for sheriff. Gater has since said his statement to investigators was coerced.
Five other correctional officers have been suspended in connection with the Feb. 11 escape. Four have denied having any involvement, and one has refused to talk to investigators.



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