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Press Release

Federal Judge Sentences Chicago Man to More Than Eight Years in Prison for Illegally Possessing Loaded Gun on City Street

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois

CHICAGO — A Chicago man has been sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison for illegally possessing a loaded semi-automatic handgun in the city’s North Lawndale neighborhood.

MARKELL THOMAS, 35, illegally possessed the firearm in the 1300 block of South Spaulding Avenue on the morning of Feb. 5, 2019.  Chicago Police officers observed Thomas holding the gun and attempted to arrest him, but he fled in a vehicle.  During the pursuit, Thomas tossed the gun out of the car.  He later exited the vehicle and was arrested in the 2900 block of West Arthington Street, approximately one mile from where the chase began.  Police recovered the handgun along a sidewalk in the 3100 block of West Fillmore Street.  

As a four-time convicted felon, Thomas was not legally allowed to possess a firearm.

Thomas pleaded guilty in July to one count of illegal possession of a firearm.  In a plea agreement, Thomas admitted that he also illegally possessed a rifle on Sept. 29, 2018, at a gun range in Lombard, Ill. 

U.S. District Judge Robert W. Gettleman on Tuesday imposed a 100-month prison sentence.

The sentence was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Kristen deTineo, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; and David Brown, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office provided valuable assistance.

“Defendant’s actions on that cold February day put at risk not only his own well-being but also the safety and well-being of the officers who pursued him, as well as dozens of other citizens of the Northern District,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron R. Bond argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum.  “Such actions by defendant demonstrate a complete lack of respect for not only the law but also the community around him, especially the law-abiding citizens who must continually deal with the plague and despair that illegal firearms bring to their streets, schools, friends, family, and neighbors.”

Holding illegal firearm possessors accountable through federal prosecution is a centerpiece of Project Guardian and Project Safe Neighborhoods.  In the Northern District of Illinois, U.S. Attorney Lausch and law enforcement partners have deployed the Guardian and PSN programs to attack a broad range of violent crime issues facing the district, particularly firearm offenses.

Updated December 15, 2020

Project Guardian
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime