Mag Mile: Man charged with armed violence and gun possession posts just $500 to go free

Sheldon Graham was arrested here, in the 600 block of North Michigan Avenue. | CPD; Google

An Evanston man who’s charged with Class X felony armed violence and felony possession of a firearm after being arrested on the Magnificient Mile last Thursday was released from jail by posting a bail deposit of just $500, court records show.

Police said 20-year-old Sheldon C. Graham was in the back seat of a car that officers stopped in the 600 block of North Michigan Avenue around 5:30 p.m. During a search of the vehicle, police allegedly found a loaded 9-millimeter handgun under the front passenger seat. The weapon was pointed toward the front of the car and officers were unable to pull the gun out from in front of the passenger seat because the seat’s support system blocked its path, they said.

So, police concluded that the weapon belonged to the person who had easy access to it: the guy in the back seat, Sheldon Graham. Officers said the gun was “uncased, loaded, and immediately available” to Graham. Graham denied knowing that the gun was under the seat in front of him and said it wasn’t his.

Police were unable to trace the gun’s history because its serial number had been etched off, according to court records. At the police station, officers conducted a custodial search of Graham and found him in possession of 20 Ecstasy pills, prosecutors said.

Graham is charged with Class X felony armed violence; felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon in a vehicle; felony possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number, and felony possession of Ecstacy or an analog.

Class X felonies are the second-most serious level of criminal charges in Illinois, behind murder.

Judge David Navarro set Graham’s bail at just $5,000, which allowed the suburbanite to go free by posting a deposit of only $500.

On Thursday, Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle, who is also running to be mayor of Chicago, tried to explain her approach to criminal justice:

“Our criminal justice efforts have been focused on trying to be sure that we re-allocate resources for those who are accused of violent crimes and try to be sure that those who are accused of non-violent crimes do not spend the time between their arrest and the disposition of their cases in jail.”

Considering that Graham is literally charged with a Class X felony called “armed violence,” we’re a little puzzled as to what Preckwinkle considers violent crime.
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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is