|Ralph Banks (left) and Jeff Sarfo (right). | Chicago Police Dept|
Cops say they pulled over a car in Rogers Park last week because its license plates were expired.
In the driver’s seat was Ralph Banks, a 21-year-old who’s on parole for his role in 2015 shoot-out that left dozens of shell casings lying in a Wrigleyville street. Next to him in the passenger’s seat was Jeff Sarfo, a 23-year-old who was free on bail awaiting trial for his alleged role in robbing a couple in the 1200 block of West Waveland on September 10. Police said there was a loaded handgun on the floorboard of Banks’ car where Sarfo was sitting.
Learning about what happened before that traffic stop—and since—is quite impressive.
|One of the vehicles that were shot up in Wrigleyville during the 2015 gunfight.|
Banks was paroled in December after serving half of a four-year sentence for being a felon in possession of a firearm. The charges stemmed from a wild gunfight in the 1100 block of West Patterson on December 13, 2015. He had been charged with fourteen separate counts before pleading guilty to the single felony in January 2017. At the time of the Wrigleyville incident, Banks was on parole for an earlier weapons violation.
Last September, Sarfo was charged with robbing a man and a woman near their home in Wrigleyville. He allegedly pulled out a handgun and demanded their valuables before running away. Sarfo previously served prison time for robbing a victim at the Addison Red Line station in July 2012.
Brought to court on the latest robbery case last year, Sarfo was ordered held without bail by Judge Michael Clancy. The next month, Sarfo’s attorney asked Judge Marvin Luckman to lower Sarfo’s bond. Luckman agreed, setting it at $200,000. At the next court appearance, this time before Judge Carol Howard, Sarfo’s attorney asked for yet another bail reduction. Howard agreed, lowering it to $100,000. Sarfo’s mother then posted a $10,000 deposit to win her son’s freedom.
Around 10:15 p.m. last Tuesday, police in the 7600 block of North Ashland allegedly saw Banks driving his car with an expired license plate. They pulled the vehicle over, asked Banks and Sarfo to step out, and performed a protective pat-down of both men. Cops said in their reports that they knew who Banks and Sarfo were. The men are both active in the Gangster Disciples street gang, according to police statements in their arrests reports.
After searching the men—Banks was allegedly carrying $885 cash—cops turned their attention to Banks’ car where they say they immediately found a 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine on the floorboard of the front passenger seat where Sarfo was sitting. Both men were taken into custody.
As cops drove Sarfo to the station, they allegedly heard a metallic “clinking” sound in the back seat. They pulled over, opened the rear doors to see what was going on, and found bullets on the floor of their car by Sarfo’s feet, according to their report. One of the officers’ body cameras allegedly captured footage of Sarfo taking an envelope containing bullets out of his pants pocket.
Last week, Banks was charged with having street gang contact while on parole. Prosecutors laid out the charge in specific detail:
“[Banks] had direct contact with a known and documented street gang member who had a loaded 9-millimeter handgun with an extended magazine in the defendant’s vehicle.”
In court the next day, Judge Joanne Rosado found there was no probable cause for the case, and Banks was set free.
Sarfo’s bail on the Wrigleyville robbery case was revoked and he has been charged with felony unlawful use of a weapon with a previous conviction and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He’s being held without bail. Again.
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