Video: A ward superintendent is arrested for an allegedly illegal gun sale. The finalists for a city casino are asked to put up big money up front. And ethics concerns in the Cook County Assessor’s race. All that and more in our Spotlight Politics. (Produced by Paul Caine)
A city employee hired by Ald. Jim Gardiner to oversee the 45th Ward has been charged with trying to sell an illegal machine gun while on the clock, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul announced Tuesday.
Charles Sikanich, 38, of Chicago, appeared in court on Tuesday where he was ordered held on a bond of $100,000. He did not enter a plea.
As 45th Ward superintendent, Sikanich earned $100,896 annually, according to the city of Chicago’s employee database. He was hired by Gardiner to respond to complaints, snow removal and trash removal in his Far Northwest Side ward.
Sikanich is charged in Cook County Court with possessing a machine gun, attempting to sell a machine gun and official misconduct. If he is convicted on all three felonies, Sikanich faces a maximum of 17 years in prison, officials said.
Sikanich is accused of trying to sell an MP-40 fully automatic machine gun, which is illegal to possess in Illinois, to an undercover ATF agent, according to Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.
“Seeking to illegally sell a dangerous firearm like a machine gun demonstrates at best indifference toward the public’s safety. However, to do so on government time using government property demonstrates a shocking disregard for the people government employees have committed to serve,” Raoul said.
The investigation was assisted by Chicago’s Office of Inspector General. A spokesperson for the city’s watchdog declined to comment to WTTW News.
Sikanich arrived at the meeting with the undercover agent in a vehicle owned by the Department of Streets and Sanitation and was being paid by the city at the time of the meeting, according to a statement from Raoul’s office.
“During the meeting, Sikanich allegedly indicated he would have his mother complete the illegal transaction, as he hoped to avoid complications to his role as a superintendent of Chicago’s 45th Ward,” according to a statement from Raoul’s office.
Sikanich’s attorney, Blaire Dalton, told WTTW News her client inherited the gun from his grandfather who said it was used in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.
Dalton said the gun was unusable when it was seized in August.
Dalton declined to comment on the attorney general’s statement about Sikanich’s mother’s involvement and declined to confirm that Sikanich asked to speak with Gardiner before his arrest on Monday, as reported by the Chicago Tribune.
A spokesperson for the Department of Streets and Sanitation declined to comment on whether Sikanich would be placed on leave.
Gardiner did not respond to a request for comment from WTTW News Tuesday afternoon.
Allowing members of the Chicago City Council to hire and fire ward superintendents violates court-imposed restrictions designed to prevent city jobs from being doled out to political supporters, according to the inspector general's office.
WTTW News reported in September that federal agents are probing whether Gardiner took bribes and demanded payments before taking official actions. He has not been charged.
Gardiner apologized earlier this year for sending profane and misogynistic texts to a former aide about Ald. Tom Tunney (44th Ward) and two women who work at City Hall.
Other texts obtained by WTTW News show that Gardiner obtained the criminal records of a 45th Ward resident who organized a protest against him and told his aide to “leak” those records. That prompted the Cook County Circuit Court Clerk to request that the office’s watchdog probe how Gardiner got those records.
Sikanich’s mother works in the circuit court clerk’s office and would have easy access to those records.
Sikanich and Gardiner are also being sued in federal court by a man who alleges that the alderperson had him harassed, intimidated and falsely arrested after he’d picked up a cellphone that Sikanich left at a 7-Eleven.
Note: This story was originally published April 26. It has been updated to include our “Chicago Tonight” discussion.