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Gang member loses $6M of legal windfall to shooting victim

Thaddeus "T.J." Jimenez is shown after his his 1993 murder convictiction was vacated. He later won $25 million in a wrongful-conviction lawsuit, but told a judge earlier this year that he was nearly broke. Friday, he was ordered to pay $6.3 million to a man authorities believe he shot. | Sun-Times file photo

Thaddeus “T.J.” Jimenez — who became a multimillionaire four years ago in a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department — just lost about $6 million of that fortune for shooting a man.

In 2012, a jury awarded Jimenez $25 million in the lawsuit he filed against the police.

Since then, though, he has spent his money on Lamborginis and other fancy cars; real estate; and on men whom he recruited into his gang, the Simon City Royals. He paid them to tattoo the gang logo on their faces in return for thousands of dollars each, police say. Earlier this year, he told a federal judge he’s now practically broke.

On Friday, Jimenez’s legal windfall took a huge hit when a Cook County judge awarded $6.3 million to a man whom authorities say Jimenez shot and wounded about a year ago.

Earl Casteel sued Jimenez for shooting him on Aug. 27, 2015 in the 3500 block of West Belle Plaine on the Northwest Side. The 37-year-old Jimenez’s younger pal Jose Roman, 24, even recorded the shooting on his phone camera, authorities say.

Jimenez and Roman were in Jimenez’s black Mercedes convertible when Jimenez pulled up to Casteel on the street and yelled: “Why shouldn’t I blast you right now?” He shot Casteel twice with a .380-caliber handgun, authorities say. Jimenez shot Casteel because he wouldn’t join the Simon City Royals, police say.

On Friday, Judge Gregory Wojkowski awarded Casteel $3.3 million in compensatory damages and another $3 million in punitive damages in a lawsuit Casteel’s attorney, Kevin O’Brien, brought against Jimenez.

Jimenez has pleaded guilty in federal court to possession of the gun he used to shoot Casteel. He and Roman, who has pleaded guilty to the same charge, are due to be sentenced next month.

Jimenez was in prison for 16 years after he was convicted at age 13 for the fatal shooting of a 19-year-old man in 1993 on the Northwest Side. The conviction was overturned, and he was freed in 2009.