UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATION NETS INMATE, GIRLFRIEND, OFFICER
Thursday, July 14, 2011
—A Chicago man awaiting trial for a 2010 baseball bat attack on two women now faces additional charges for conspiring with his girlfriend to bring marijuana into the Cook County Jail, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced Thursday.
Heriberto Viramontes, 31, is charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution, which is a felony. He was already being held without bond on charges of aggravated battery and armed robbery for the attack on Stacy Jurich and Natasha McShane. His then-girlfriend, Marcy Cruz, 26, is charged with the same crimes for her role in that incident.
Viramontes’ newest charge comes as a result of an internal, undercover investigation carried out by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office of Professional Review and the Criminal Intelligence Unit. That investigation also resulted in the arrest of Kira Lundgren, 22, of Plainfield. Identified as Viramontes’ girlfriend, she is also charged with bringing contraband into a penal institution.
The investigation originally began based on intelligence that contraband was regularly being smuggled into the Cook County Jail’s maximum security medical building, Division 10, while the same correctional officer was securing the visiting room there.
That officer, Jerome Prusa, 50, of Westchester, is charged with four counts of official misconduct, two counts of possession of a weapon in a penal institution, one count of bringing a weapon into a penal institution and one count of bringing contraband into a penal institution, which are all felonies.
In recent months, Division 10 has been put on lockdown several times due to officers discovering contraband in inmate cells. That led to the OPR/CIU investigation, which included the use of undercover officers and confidential informants both inside and outside of the jail.
On June 11, Lundgren came to visit Viramontes and had hidden a small amount of marijuana in her shoe before coming in. Once in the visiting room overseen by Prusa, she took the narcotics out and taped them to the underside of the visiting table.
By coincidence, an undercover officer was coming into the same visiting room at that time in a pre-arranged attempt to smuggle contraband into the jail while under Prusa’s watch. Aware of the smuggling plan – but unaware of the undercover officer’s status - Lundgren approached the undercover officer, pointed out the marijuana, and asked if it could be given to Viramontes at the same time.
When the undercover officer was alone in the visiting room, Prusa unlocked the doors, allowing the undercover officer to introduce the contraband to a secure area of the jail. Prusa then allowed the undercover officer back into the visiting room.
Lundgren was arrested as she left Division 10, while Prusa was immediately taken into custody. A later shake-down of Viramontes’ cell led to the discovery of the marijuana that had been taped to the visiting table.
Lundgren remains free on $10,000 bond. Her next court date is set for Monday.
Prusa, a correctional officer since 2005, was found to be in possession of two knives, hidden in his uniform, when he was arrested. He is free on $40,000 bond. He has been de-deputized and suspended from his position pending an employment hearing. He has also resigned his position as an auxillary officer with the LaGrange Park Police Department. His next court date is set for July 21.
Viramontes is expected to appear in bond court at 26th-California on Friday.
The investigation remains ongoing.