“Jail-eating man” back in custody after violating electronic monitoring rules

Chicago’s jail-eating man, who has cost taxpayers at least $2 million in medical bills by eating pieces of the detention facility, has been sent back to Cook County jail after he allegedly violated the terms of electronic monitoring in a pending identity theft case.

Undoubtedly, the sheriff’s department would really like Lamont Cathey to be somewhere else.

Cathey was arrested February 25 for allegedly stealing a man’s wallet from a Lincoln Park gym locker and then using the victim’s credit cards at nearby businesses, just eight days after he was released from prison.

It seems the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) doesn’t want Cathey back, either. They decided not to try to revoke his parole after he got arrested.

Just three days after deputies attached an electronic monitor to his ankle on February 28, Cathey left his house and went to a South Side motel, prosecutors say. He then allegedly traveled to various locations throughout the city before returning home a few hours later.

The next day, on March 4, Cathey had permission to travel to Skokie for a court hearing in the identity theft case. He left his house at 7:30 a.m. and returned about ten hours later — but he never went to court, prosecutors say. So, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

When deputies arrested him last week, Cathey, age 24, reportedly told them he didn’t go to court because he didn’t have any money to get there. He did, however, have money to drive to a bunch of other locations when he should have been in Skokie, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said.

Judge Charles Beach set bail at $150,000 for the escape charge and Cathey went to jail.

“Mr. Cathey is currently in custody. He is housed in Cermak Health Services, where he is receiving the highest level mental health services,” sheriff’s office spokesperson Matt Walberg said Wednesday. Cermak is a hospital on the jail grounds.

Cathey ran up his first $1 million in medical bills back in 2015 when he was in jail awaiting trial for allegedly robbing a restaurant.

He ate screws, thumbtacks, leather, needles, and a four-inch piece of metal.

As of 2016, he had undergone 20 surgeries to remove metal objects that he consumed while in custody, CBS2 reported.

Cara Smith, a sheriff’s office spokesperson at the time, called Cathey’s case “a crushingly sad and very frustrating case.”

When Cathey later returned to jail for allegedly possessing a stolen motor vehicle and escaping electronic monitoring, he started eating the facility again — and ran up another $1 million bill for treatment.

At one point, jail authorities shipped him to Loyola Medical Center, where he spent three months handcuffed to a bed as sheriff’s deputies guarded him 24/7. According to contemporaneous media reports, Cathey’s stay at Loyola dragged on months longer than was medically necessary because Cermak and the county-operated Stroger Hospital refused to take him.

Eventually, Loyola filed a lawsuit to force the county to take custody of Cathey. They eventually did and he was sent to Stroger.

Cathey pleaded guilty to escape and three counts of aggravated fleeing causing bodily injury four months later and was sentenced to two years in prison.

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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 news@cwbchicago.com