Man’s accused of running unemployment fraud scheme from home — while on electronic monitoring for gun case

A man who sprayed lighter fluid all over his home and then ran away with his electronic monitoring system last year turned himself in Sunday because nobody would hire him while he had an active fugitive warrant, his defense attorney said.

Shortly after he appeared in court Monday, another electronic monitoring participant was brought in to face charges of running an unemployment benefits fraud scheme from the comfort home confinement.

Career buster

Jamail Bowman’s court appearance went from bad to worse Monday when he asked the judge to lower his bail amount after he allegedly spent a year on the run. She doubled it instead.

Bowman first went home on electronic monitoring in December 2019 to await trial for allegedly being a felon in possession of a firearm while on parole, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said Monday. Bowman has been convicted of the same charge once before, Murphy said.

Everything went smoothly until May 4, 2020. That’s when Bowman’s monitoring device sent an “unauthorized leave” alert to the sheriff’s office.

He was gone.

Murphy said Bowman “poured lighter fluid all over the home,” threatened the other occupants of the house, took their alarm system remote, and walked out with his electronic monitoring unit.

On Sunday, with no ankle monitor to be seen, he turned himself in.

“He was aware of the warrant and turned himself in because he wanted to resolve the matter,” Bowman’s defense attorney said as he tried to convince Judge Susana Ortiz to lower Bowman’s bail amount from $50,000.

The attorney said Bowman spent the past year “trying to find employment and further his education, but he learned he could not do that because of the warrant.”

In a true lipstick-on-a-pig moment, the attorney also bragged that Bowman didn’t get arrested a single time in the 16 months that he was missing.

“Normally, somebody gets credit for surrendering themselves,” Ortiz said after hearing from the attorneys. “I have concerns about his ability and willingness to comply with the conditions of bond.”

Then, she gave Bowman the bad news. She would not be reducing his bond. She doubled it to $100,000.

“I’m going to once again impose [electronic monitoring] as a condition of bond. I don’t know whether they will take him,” the judge said.

Work from home

Of course, not everyone escapes from electronic monitoring after spraying their home with lighter fluid. Some electronic monitoring participants pass the time by starting a home-based business. Like Darnell Trotter.

On Monday, Trotter was in bond court to face charges that he ran an unemployment fraud scheme from his bedroom while on home confinement for a pending unlawful use of a weapon by a felony case.

Investigators went to Trotter’s home on September 16 to follow up on a tip that he was in possession of cash raised from unemployment insurance fraud, Assistant State’s Attorney Lorraine Scaduto said.

They found $15,020 cash behind his headboard, along with five Illinois unemployment debit cards in other people’s names and one unemployment debit card in his name, Scaduto continued.

Officials allegedly found a notebook under his mattress containing the names, birthdates, Social Security numbers, and other personal information of various people — including a woman who died in December 2017.

Oddly, after being dead for nearly four years, the woman applied for unemployment benefits earlier this year. The state approved her application and sent a total of $18,522 in seven deposits to an account operated by Trotter, according to Scaduto.

Trotter, 30, was taken into custody after authorities allegedly found the materials on September 16. That same day, he called a woman on a recorded jailhouse phone and told her “they” found the unemployment cards, “the book,” and money, Scaduto said.

In another recorded call, he allegedly told a man, “I’m gonna tell them I found the cards.”

Prosecutors charged Trotter with felony theft, state benefits fraud, and identity theft.

His defense attorney said he is the father of two children with a third on the way. And, the lawyer said, he is unemployed.

Judge David Navarro set bail at $100,000. He also ordered Trotter held without bail for violating the terms of bond in the pending gun case.

Our exclusive and original reporting is 100% reader-funded. Please make a contribution to our operating fund or purchase a subscription today.

About CWBChicago 6766 Articles
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