WASHINGTON PARK MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO DRUG AND GUN CHARGES
Jesse L. Oden, Jr., 26, of Washington Park, IL, pled guilty on September 20, 2011, to three counts of distribution of crack cocaine, one count of possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, Stephen R. Wigginton, announced today.
As revealed at his change of plea hearing, on September 8, 2010, undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and a confidential informant (“CI”) met with Oden in Washington Park, Illinois, near the intersection at 56th Street and Forest Blvd. Oden directed them to follow him to a house at the end of 56th Street. The purpose of this meeting was to purchase cocaine base, more commonly known as “crack” cocaine. The ATF agent and the CI followed Oden to the house they were directed. In the driveway, the CI exited the vehicle, exchanged $300 for four baggies of suspected crack cocaine, and informed Oden that his friend had some money to spend. The CI returned to the vehicle in which the agent was still sitting, and the agent then got out of the vehicle to purchase crack from Oden. The agent exchanged $200 for two pieces of suspected crack cocaine which Oden had broken off of a quarter-sized chunk.
On October 18, 2010, an ATF agent arranged through text messaging to meet with Oden at Popeye’s restaurant at 1301 Kingshighway, Washington Park, Illinois. The purpose of this meeting was again to purchase crack cocaine. Oden entered the agent’s vehicle at the Popeye’s in order to complete the purchase. The agent exchanged $300 for three baggies of suspected crack cocaine and then mentioned to Oden that the agent had heard Oden was looking for a firearm. Oden confirmed and asked if the agent had one. The agent informed Oden that the agent had a Smith and Wesson 9 mm he was looking to get rid of. They discussed exchanging crack cocaine for the firearm and agreed upon a price of $250 worth of crack cocaine. They then agreed to meet the next day to trade the firearm for crack cocaine.
On October 19, 2010, the ATF agent and Oden arranged to meet at the same Popeye’s to exchange crack cocaine for the 9 mm handgun. Oden directed the agent to enter his vehicle and the agent did so carrying a toolbox containing the handgun. The agent showed Oden the handgun, and after a brief discussion, Oden handed the agent a baggie of suspected crack cocaine.
After his arrest, Oden admitted to exchanging crack cocaine for the 9 mm handgun and identified the toolbox containing the handgun as that involved in the transaction. Oden stated that he needed the handgun for protection while dealing drugs and admitted that he would probably use it if necessary. Oden also admitted to meeting with the undercover ATF agent on two previous occasions for the purpose of exchanging crack cocaine for money. Oden acknowledged that he had one previous felony and that he did not think that felons could possess firearms.
Oden will be sentenced on January 13, 2012. He faces maximum penalties of 75 years’ imprisonment, $3.5 million in fines, or both, 15 years of supervised release, and a $500 special assessment.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Deirdre Durborow.