Warrant, weed trip up two members of film crew at Cook County Jail

Written By BY MITCH DUDEK Staff Reporter Posted: 03/19/2014, 02:12pm

Note to filmmakers who want to shoot at Cook County Jail: leave your weed at home, and don’t show up if there’s a warrant out for your arrest.

Two men on the crew for the Fox television pilot “Empire” were arrested early Wednesday when they made those mistakes, a Cook County sheriff’s spokesman said.

James Suhajda, 52, was arrested on a domestic abuse warrant and transferred to the custody of the DuPage Country Sheriff.

Sheriff’s police also found an ounce of marijuana in the car of another man on the film crew who was trying to enter the jail compound, said Ben Breit, a spokesman for Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart. The man was arrested but later released without charges, and without his weed. Breit did not immediately know why the man was not charged.

Despite the hiccup, the show — a family drama set in the world of a hip hop empire — was allowed to film Wednesday in a vacant medium security division of the jail. Actor Terrance Howard stars in the show, which is being directed by Lee Daniels, who also directed “The Butler.”

Background checks that were run in advance of the visit alerted sheriff’s police to the outstanding warrant. And the marijuana turned up when vehicles were searched, as is standard practice, Breit said.

“We had to call in many additional officers, a warrant unit, a canine unit — and the production company is going to compensate us for the man hours,” Breit said.

The incident happened about 4 a.m.

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