45th Ward superintendent charged with allegedly trying to sell submachine gun on city time to feds
by BRIAN NADIG
45th Ward Streets and Sanitation superintendent Charles Sikanich is facing charges that he allegedly tried to sell a World War II-era submachine gun to an undercover federal agent during work hours at his city job.
It was reported at an April 26 bond hearing that Sikanich’s attorney, Blaire Dalton, described the gun as a family heirloom that dates back to World War II and that the weapon was “plugged and unusable,” according to a published Chicago Tribune article.
However, Illinois Assistant Attorney General Jonas Harger told the court that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was able to render the gun useable in less than an hour, the newspaper article stated.
The ATF confiscated the gun last summer, which was described as an MP-40 submachine gun, but Sikanich was not charged until this month. Nadig Newspapers contacted Dalton, who said that she does not comment on ongoing proceedings.
In a statement, Attorney General Kwame Raoul said that Sikanich, age 38, was charged with unlawful use of weapons – possession of a machine gun, a Class 2 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison; unlawful use of weapons – attempted sale of a machine gun, a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 2 to 5 years in prison; and official misconduct, a Class 3 felony punishable by up to 2 to 5 years in prison.
Sikanich’s bond was set at $100,000.
“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.
“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.”
The attorney general’s office issued the following description of the investigation: “While working for the city’s DSS, Sikanich allegedly arranged to sell an MP-40 fully automatic machine gun, which is illegal to possess in Illinois, to an undercover ATF agent.
“ATF agents staking out the prearranged meeting observed Sikanich arriving in a City of Chicago DSS vehicle. The Attorney General’s office alleges that a subsequent review of Sikanich’s DSS time sheets showed that he was clocked in at the time and should have been working at his government job. 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.”
Aldermen typically recommend a superintendent for their ward, and the streets and sanitation department usually hires that person.
According to a Chicago police arrest report, copies of which have been posted on social media, Sikanich was arrested at about 10 a.m. Monday, April 25, after federal agents approached his work vehicle in the 5700 block of West Grover Street in Jefferson Park.
“As subject was being placed into custody, subject repeatedly asked to contact Alderman Gardiner prior to being placed into custody,” the report states.
In a related matter, Sikanich and Alderman James Gardiner (45th) are defendants in a federal lawsuit in which a man claims that officials and police abused their power by having him arrested in connection with a cell phone that Sikanich reportedly had left at a 7-Eleven store on Higgins Avenue.
Gardiner also is a defendant in two other lawsuits, including a class action lawsuit in which six ward residents claim Gardiner had violated their First Amendment rights by restricting their ability to post or comment on his official aldermanic Facebook page.
Gardiner could not be reached for comment for this story, and the streets and sanitation department said that it does not comment on personnel matters, referring questions to the Inspector General’s office, which could not be reached for comment.