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‘T.J.’ Jimenez, ‘Motive’ podcast figure freed after wrongful conviction, wants feds to take custody of him

The Chicago gang leader was featured in the serial podcast last fall from the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ Chicago.

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez was caught on a cellphone video shooting Earl Casteel in the legs on Aug. 17, 2015, in Irving Park. The video, which went viral, was shown during Jimenez’s trial in federal court.
Thaddeus Jimenez was caught on a cellphone video shooting Earl Casteel in the legs on Aug. 17, 2015. The video was shown during Jimenez’s federal trial.
U.S. District Court

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez — who won a $25 million jury award for being wrongfully convicted of murder, then got locked up again for shooting a man in the legs — is asking a U.S. district judge to order marshals to take him into federal custody.

His attorney Steve Greenberg wants U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber to make sure Jimenez gets credit for serving his nine-year federal prison term — even though he’s been held for three years in the Cook County Jail and other county jails in Illinois since he was sentenced in 2017.

Jimenez was convicted in federal court for illegal possession of the gun he used to shoot Earl Casteel in 2015. He’s awaiting a trial in Cook County criminal court on charges of shooting Casteel.

If Jimenez is convicted of the Cook County charges, he will automatically get to serve his state sentence simultaneously with his federal prison term, Greenberg said.

But in the federal system, Jimenez doesn’t automatically get credit on his federal sentence for the time he has spent in the Cook County Jail, Greenberg said.

“It’s not about the accommodations. It’s to make sure he gets proper credit,” Greenberg said.

The Chicago gang member’s turbulent story was featured last fall in “Motive,” a true-crime podcast produced by the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ Chicago.

Jimenez was freed from state prison in 2009 after serving 16 years over a killing he was arrested for when he was 13.

In 2012, he won his multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the city of Chicago.

Three years later, Jimenez was driving in his Mercedes convertible with fellow gang member Jose Roman when Jimenez shot a man in the legs as Roman recorded the shooting on his cellphone.

In 2017, Jimenez was sentenced in federal court for possession of the gun used in that shooting, but he wasn’t sent to federal prison. Instead, he was held in county jails across Illinois — most recently the Cook County Jail — as he has awaited trial on state charges of attempted murder and aggravated battery in the same 2015 shooting.

Life in those county jails has been rocky for Jimenez. He was severely beaten in a downstate jail. And, on Jan. 8, the 40-year-old Jimenez and five other inmates were arrested for felony mob action after a brawl in a maximum-security unit of the Cook County Jail.

Steve Greenberg, Thaddeus J. “T.J.” Jimenez’s lawyer.
Steve Greenberg, Thaddeus J. “T.J.” Jimenez’s lawyer.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia / Sun-Times

Last year, Leinenweber agreed to let Roman serve his state and federal sentences simultaneously, rather than back to back. Roman was sentenced to seven years in prison on federal gun charges and six years for being an accomplice in the 2015 shooting. He’s doing his time in a state prison.

Roman, 27, also was convicted of throwing feces and urine in the face of a correctional officer in the Cook County Jail in 2017 and sentenced to four years in prison for that crime. He’s expected to be paroled in July 2022, records show.

Jimenez is appealing the state’s shooting case against him, saying it amounts to double jeopardy — being unconstitutionally tried for the same crime twice.