CHICAGO --A judge sentenced a Chicago man, who won a $25 million award in 2012 for a wrongful murder conviction only to spend it on rebuilding his Simon City Royals street gang, to nine years and two months in prison.
It only took five years for 38-year-old Thaddeus Jimenez to blow through his fortune. Some of the money was spent on guns. A graphic video showed how the weapons were used.
It was shown in open court before a federal judge gave Jimenez his nine year prison sentence.
Locked and loaded with "Ava Maria" blasting, Jimenez and his passenger Jose Roman cruised through a Northwest Side neighborhood on a sunny Monday morning in August of 2015 driving a brand new Mercedes convertible paid for by money awarded to Jimenez in a wrongful conviction case.
Prosecutors said the gang leader was looking for someone to shoot.
"I don't think Mr. Casteel anticipated anything. He was simply there. The car drove by and he said 'Hello,'" Kevin O'Brien, the shooting victim's attorney, said.
Former gang member Earl Casteel was in the neighborhood getting ready to do some maintenance work on an apartment when Jimenez pulled up and shot him in the legs.
The video, recorded on Roman's phone, was shown in court before a federal judge sentenced the two men on gun charges.
"Barbaric, cruel, disturbing, numbing to watch that video from our perspective," Zach Fardon, U.S. attorney, said.
Prosecutors wanted a 10-year prison term for Jimenez.
Jimenez was convicted of murdering Eric Morro, 19, when he was 13-years-old. He spent 16 years in prison before his conviction was vacated in 2009.
Jimenez sued the city of Chicago and several officers, claiming police ignored evidence against another teen. He was awarded the $25 million in 2012.
He was left with $12.5 million of the original $25 million after attorney fees. Prosecutors said Jimenez blew through the money by building a gang and giving huge bonuses to gang members and posting bond for them in criminal cases.
"He had no guidance, he was raised in jail and thrown in the streets, no family everybody was all about getting their money and letting him go," Jessica Taylor, Jimenez's girlfriend, said.
While he was given nine years for federal gun charges on Thursday, he still faces state criminal charges for shooting Casteel.
The law firm, Loevy and Loevy, who represented Jimenez in the wrongful conviction case had no comment on Thursday.