Thaddeus “TJ” Jimenez — who was awarded $25 million from the city of Chicago for an overturned murder conviction and became a Lamborghini-driving gangster — is expected to plead guilty to a federal gun charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.
A hearing is scheduled next month in U.S. District Court for Jimenez to plead guilty to the gun charge stemming from a 2015 shooting in Albany Park. He also is charged in Cook County Criminal Court in connection with the Aug. 17 incident.
Jimenez, 37, and Jose Roman, 23, are accused of approaching Earl Casteel and demanding he join their gang, the Simon City Royals. When Casteel refused, Jimenez allegedly shot him in the legs. Roman recorded the shooting on his cellphone camera, police sources say. Roman also is expected to plead guilty to a federal gun possession charge.
Casteel sued Jimenez for allegedly shooting him. Kevin O’Brien, a lawyer for Casteel, said he has asked prosecutors for the video that Roman supposedly took of the shooting.
Jimenez was in prison for 16 years after he was convicted at age 13 for the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old in 1993 on the Northwest Side. The conviction was overturned and he was freed in 2009. Three years later, a jury awarded him $25 million from the city, one of the largest judgments in a wrongful conviction lawsuit.
Jimenez became heavily involved in the gang life, authorities say. He drove Lamborghinis and other flashy cars, including a Mercedes he fled in after shooting Casteel, police say. He tossed a handgun and Roman threw away a rifle before they were arrested, police said.
Jimenez paid gang members to switch to his gang and work for him, even getting them to tattoo Simon City Royals symbols on their necks and faces, police sources say. The gang is suspected of committing several murders on the West Side since Jimenez was freed from prison, sources say.
In addition to the gun charge in federal court, Jimenez faces Cook County charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery and illegal gun possession in the Aug. 17 shooting. Earlier this year, he was found not guilty of a felony charge of aggravated driving under the influence in an accident that left a woman with head injuries in 2013.
Jimenez has been transferred from the Cook County Jail to the Piatt County Jail — located between Decatur and Champaign — “for his own safety and the safety and security of Cook County jail staff and inmates,” said Ben Breit, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.
Breit said it’s common to transfer inmates to other counties when they pose a threat to themselves or others. In March, for example, Dwright Boone-Doty, the suspect in the fatal shooting of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee, also was transferred to the Piatt County Jail because of safety concerns.