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Death of Lake County inmate who hired hitman investigated

Jonathan Velasquez. | Lake County sheriff's office

An investigation is underway after a Lake County Jail inmate was found dead in his cell Wednesday.

Jonathan Velazquez was found unresponsive and alone in his cell at 12:54 p.m. with a piece of fabric wrapped around his neck, according to a statement from Lake County sheriff’s office.

Velazquez, 34, of the first block of Sandhurst Road was taken into the jail’s custody June 15 on a criminal sexual assault charge in Mundelein, officials said. He was later pronounced dead after attempts to revive him by corrections officers and medical staff were unsuccessful. The fabric was believed to be a strap used to secure an elevated television.

Velazquez was additionally charged with solicitation of murder for hire and solicitation for murder June 30, according to the statement.

While jailed pending trial on the sexual assault charge, Velasquez tried to hire someone to kill a person expected to testify against him, according to the Lake County sheriff’s office’s gang task force, which said he arranged to pay more than $1,000 to someone he believed would carry out the hit.

However, the hitman was an informant working with detectives, the sheriff’s office said.

Velazquez was in the jail’s medical unit when he was found, after being moved to a cell there July 1 due to him being a defendant in a high-profile case, officials said, which is standard procedure in such cases.

The Lake County major crimes task force will conduct an immediate and independent investigation, the sheriff’s office said.