17-time convicted felon gets 3 year sentence for stealing blind musician’s guitar at Loop CTA station

A man who’s amassed more than 80 criminal cases in Cook County under at least 20 different aliases has been sentenced to three years in prison for stealing a blind man’s guitar at the Jackson Blue Line platform.

Maurice Williams was out of prison for just 16 days when he allegedly stole the visually impaired musician’s guitar and hopped on a train around 3:30 p.m. on March 7, 2020.

The guitarist, Juan Hernandez, frequently plays for money on CTA platforms downtown. He told the Chicago Tribune, “Jackson Blue Line has become increasingly dangerous. When I’m playing, the same people are asking around for money, spare change and just hanging around, so I don’t feel safe in that spot.”

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Maurice Williams is accused of stealing a blind man’s guitar on the Jackson Blue Line platform. | Jacob G. via Wikipedia; Cook County Sheriff

“This was a reprehensible act of cowardice against a member of our special needs community,” a top CPD spokesperson tweeted after the incident. Williams “should be ashamed,” he said.

Police accessed CTA’s sprawling surveillance camera system and tracked Williams to a train on the Near West Side. They arrested him and returned the guitar to the victim.

Williams allegedly stole Hernandez’s livelihood just days after being released from prison where he served half of four concurrent sentences for theft, records show.

He was accused of stealing iPads, cell phones, and credit cards from restaurants in Uptown in those cases. With time served before trial and Illinois’ standard 50% “good behavior” sentence reduction, Williams walked out of prison on February 20, 2020. He went almost 16 whole days without being charged with another felony.

His previous prison terms include one year for theft in 2018; two years for theft in 2016; three years for narcotics in 2014; 30 months for retail theft in 2012; three years for retail theft in 2011; seven years for burglary of a school or place of worship in 2006; two years for retail theft in 2005; three years for retail theft in 2003; four years for burglary in 2001; a concurrent four years for burglary in 2001; one year for narcotics in 1998; another six years for cocaine distribution in 1998; and four years for burglary in 1996.

Now, Judge William Raines has sentenced him to three years for stealing Hernandez’s guitar. Williams will receive 397 days credit for time served while awaiting trial and will also enjoy a 50% sentence reduction for good behavior in prison. His parole date has not been set.

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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