Jail Guard Arrested on Weapons Charge

Cook County Jail guard was middleman in Uzi purchase, authorities say

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images / Scott Olson
    Two women walk toward a visitor's entrance of a maximum security detention area of the Cook County jail February 12, 2006 in Chicago, Illinois.

    A Cook County Jail guard was arrested Tuesday on charges of buying an Uzi semiautomatic rifle for someone else while claiming that he was actual purchaser.

    Miguel Echevarria, 44, of Chicago was arrested outside his home without incident and charged in a complaint filed by the FBI with lying on the federal form that gun buyers must fill out when he claimed to be the actual buyer.

    Echevarria was acting as what law enforcement officials call a "straw purchaser" -- someone who claims to be the actual buyer but is turning the weapon over to the real buyer.

    Often the real buyer has a criminal record and thus is not allowed to buy guns. But in this case the real buyer was a cooperating witness working with the FBI, according to an affidavit accompanying the complaint.

    It said the witness paid Echevarria $3,000 for the Uzi plus $300 for making the purchase.

    While the complaint charged Echevarria only with lying on the federal form when he bought the Uzi, the affidavit said he had earlier served as a straw purchaser and obtained an AR-15 rifle for the FBI's witness.

    Echevarria appeared before Magistrate Judge Geraldine Soat Brown on Tuesday afternoon and was released on $4,500 bond and placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring.

    Defense attorney Imani Chiphe of the Federal Defender program represented Echevarria and said afterward that he had no comment.

    A probationary correctional officer at the jail was arrested and immediately fired last week after it was discovered he'd brought contraband into the facility.