Stuffed with Italian beef, gyro meat and corned beef, the “Jim Shoe” is Chicago’s biggest, most ethnically inclusive sandwich.
But for 29-year-old Cook County Jail guard Jason Marek, one crucial ingredient was missing, the feds say.
An ounce bag of weed.
By hollowing out the giardiniera- and tzatziki-flavored feast and hiding a baggie stuffed with marijuana in the middle, Marek and six codefendants allegedly came up with the recipe for a sandwich that was both the source of, and the answer to, an enormous appetite.
They weren’t auditioning for a job in Guy Fieri’s kitchen — they were using the sandwiches to smuggle marijuana to Cook County Jail inmates willing to pay five times the street price, a federal complaint unsealed Tuesday alleges.
Three inmates and their girlfriends were in on the scam, the feds say. Thadieus “Weasy” Goods, Lavangelist “Juicy” Powell and Price “Primo” Johnson allegedly pre-sold the weed to other prisoners.
Powell’s girlfriend, Natosha McCollum, allegedly helped buy the drug on the outside and collect money.
Goods’ wife, Pearlisa “Wang Wang” Stevenson, allegedly made the sandwiches and delivered them to Marek for smuggling in return for a $200 bribe.
And, after Marek was allegedly caught trying to smuggle two hollowed out two “Jim Shoes” and a bag of contraband tobacco and booze into the jail in June last year, Johnson’s wife, Stephanie Lewis, allegedly used her position as as a supervisor at Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications to help keep the smuggling operation going.
Using OEMC computers, Lewis ran Marek’s license plates to find his address, so that the crew could try to threaten the jail guard into delivering more contraband, the feds allege.
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart initially called a news conference to discuss the arrests Tuesday afternoon but later cancelled it. He issued a brief statement, saying, “Rooting out corruption in the Cook County Jail is a top priority of mine.
“I’m thankful to our federal partners at the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for working closely with my staff to conduct such a thorough investigation and to charge this far-reaching case,” Dart said.
Finally arrested Tuesday morning, Marek briefly found himself on the wrong side of the prison bars before he was released on bond Tuesday afternoon by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert.
Court papers allege he had an unfortunate nickname for a jailer: “Murda.”
That’s a subject three of his codefendants allegedly know something about.
Goods was among four defendants accused of putting 18 bullets in a Chicago man in 2007; while Powell and Johnson are awaiting trial for solicitation of murder and murder, respectively.
According to the complaint, Johnson was recorded in a jail telephone call last summer, telling his partner, “Just so long as I got my sandwich, you know I don’t care.”