CHICAGO — A top 45th Ward official who had an illegal machine gun seized by the feds last year is now facing weapons and misconduct charges for allegedly trying to sell that gun while on the clock for his government job.
Charles Sikanich, Ald. Jim Gardiner’s ward superintendent who oversees sanitation services in the 45th Ward, was charged Tuesday with possession and attempted sale of an illegal machine gun, according to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Sikanich was also charged with official misconduct.
The Tribune was first to report the charges, which are all felonies, according to the attorney general.
Sikanich, 38, was arrested Monday after being indicted last week, the Tribune reported. He “repeatedly asked to contact” Gardiner before he was placed into custody, according to his arrest report obtained by the Tribune. His bond was set at $100,000, according to the attorney general’s office. He must post $10,000 to be released. It wasn’t clear if he was still in custody as of Tuesday afternoon.
The case was investigated by the local division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the city’s Office of Inspector General. The ATF confiscated the machine gun from Sikanich last summer, Block Club reported in October.
“Seeking to illegally sell a dangerous firearm like a machine gun demonstrates at best indifference toward the public’s safety,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement. “However, to do so on government time using government property demonstrates a shocking disregard for the people government employees have committed to serve.”
Machine guns are illegal in Illinois, and people caught with them could face three to seven years in prison. Sentencing guidelines vary, with recommendations between six and 30 years if the weapon is found to be loaded or in a vehicle.
Authorities said Sikanich arranged to sell an MP-40 fully automatic machine gun to an undercover ATF agent while on the job. ATF agents staking out the prearranged meeting spot saw Sikanich arriving in a city Department of Streets and Sanitation vehicle, the attorney general’s office said.
A later review of Sikanich’s city timesheets showed he was clocked in at the time he allegedly tried to sell the weapon and should have been working at his government job, the attorney general’s office said. During the meeting, Sikanich said “he would have his mother complete the illegal transaction, as he hoped to avoid complications” to his ward job, according to the attorney general’s office.
His mother works for the Clerk of the Circuit Court of Cook County and has been accused of helping Sikanich in past favors unrelated to work duties, according to a separate lawsuit filed last year against the alderman for his conduct toward a constituent.
That lawsuit alleges Sikanich had his mother pull old police records of an Irving Park resident in a revenge plot against the constituent, who is a vocal critic of Gardiner. The alderman got the documents from Sikanich and wanted to leak them, according to the lawsuit and past text messages between him and a former staffer shared with Block Club.
That matter was referred to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office of Inspector General for an investigation.
Raoul’s public integrity bureau is overseeing Sikanich’s weapons and misconduct case.
“I appreciate the investigative work done by the ATF and City of Chicago Office of Inspector General as we work collaboratively to hold accountable public employees who abuse their authority and the trust taxpayers have placed in them,” Raoul said.
Gardiner’s office did not immediately return requests for comment. Blaire Dalton, Sikanich’s attorney, did not return requests for comment.
The charges add more legal trouble for Sikanich.
He and the alderman are among those being sued in federal court by Benjamin George, a former 45th Ward constituent. As part of that, George also sued the city and seven police officers from the 16th District in 2020, claiming the alderman falsely accused him of a crime, harassed him and had him arrested over a lost cell phone.
Last month, a judge ruled the case is moving forward despite efforts from Gardiner’s attorney to have the case dismissed.
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