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Gang leader won $25 million, now says he has no assets

Chicago’s alleged $25 million gang leader claims he’s gone broke.

Thaddeus “TJ” Jimenez, arrested last month and accused of shooting a man in the legs, was ordered held without bond Wednesday in U.S. District Court.

“I don’t think the public is safe with him on the outside,” U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber said.

Jimenez faces a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. If convicted, he could receive up to 10 years in prison.

In a hearing Wednesday, prosecutors said Jimenez received more than $12 million from a $25 million judgment in a wrongful conviction lawsuit he filed against the city. His lawyers took much of the rest of the money, prosecutors said.

A defendant’s financial situation is one of the factors judges consider when setting bond in federal court.

Jimenez told court officials he doesn’t have any assets, but prosecutors pointed to 13 cars registered in his name, including a Bentley and other luxury cars.

Prosecutors said he even bought a Range Rover for a gang associate, Jose Roman, who is a co-defendant in the case.

Leinenweber said he was skeptical that Jimenez is broke — given the money that was recently in his bank account and his expensive taste in cars.

Jimenez is accused of tossing a .380-caliber handgun during a police chase on Aug. 17. Minutes earlier, he shot a man in the legs for refusing to join his gang, the Simon City Royals, police say.

Jimenez is also charged in Cook County criminal court with aggravated battery and illegal gun possession in the same case.

Roman faces identical federal and state charges. He was riding in a Mercedes with Jimenez when they fled from police on Aug. 17, police say. Roman allegedly tossed a rifle during a foot chase. Leinenweber ordered him held without bond, too.

In 2012, Jimenez won his $25 million civil judgment. He had sued the Chicago Police and the city after he was released from prison in 2009. He spent 16 years behind bars for a murder he said he didn’t commit.

Since 2009, he’s been convicted twice of felony drug charges. Authorities say he’s spent some of his fortune on recruiting people to join the Simon City Royals. He’s the admitted leader of the gang, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Also Wednesday, Jimenez’s lawyer, Scott Frankel, asked the judge to order changes to Jimenez’s confinement in a jail in Kankakee County. Frankel said his client has been held in isolation there for 24 hours a day.

But the judge declined to order any changes, saying he was told that is normal procedure for the Kankakee County Jail.