A judge sentenced a North Chicago man, who remains wanted, to 21 years in prison Wednesday after a jury convicted him of illegally possessing a gun as a felon.
Giovanni M. Smith, 33, of North Chicago, was arrested on July 4, 2021, after police responded to a 911 call for a person with a gun.
The caller reported a person jumped out of a car in North Chicago while armed with a handgun.
The armed person, later identified as Smith, was reportedly chasing down another person in the street, prosecutors said.
Officers located Smith minutes later and the gun was recovered in the center console of the vehicle he was driving, prosecutors said.
He was charged with one count of armed habitual criminal, a Class X felony, and one count of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon, a Class 2 felony.
Smith was originally ordered held on a $100,000 bond but later had his bond reduced to $50,000 during a bond review hearing. He was released after posting 10% of the bond.
A jury trial began in the case on August 2 and lasted three days.
Smith attended most of the trial and did not testify. Several state witnesses, including law enforcement and the 911 caller, testified.
The trial concluded on August 5 with the jury returning guilty verdicts for both charges.
Smith did not return to court for the reading of the verdict. A warrant carrying no bond was issued for the man.
The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office said that Smith would likely not have been able to be released pending trial had the SAFE-T Act been in effect.
The new law goes into effect on January 1 and allows judges to hold defendants charged with violent crimes held without bond, the state’s attorney’s office said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Ruth Lofthouse asked Lake County Judge Patricia Fix to sentence Smith to 20 years in prison.
Fix sentenced Smith to 21 years in prison during a sentencing hearing Wednesday.
“Our office is committed to protecting the community from repeat offenders such as Mr. Smith. Everyone deserves to be safe from gun violence. We know that increased access to weapons is one of the many reasons why we are seeing an increase in violence,” Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said
“This sentence is necessary to deter others from repeatedly violating the law as Mr. Smith has,” Rinehart said.
The no-bond warrant remains active for Smith.
Anyone who sees Smith should call 911 and not attempt to apprehend him, the state’s attorney’s office said.