COVID boomerang: Man busted with gun after authorities released him from jail due to pandemic scare, pleads guilty to 4 separate felony cases

Zyan Damper | CPD

Some of the people who committed new crimes after being released from the Cook County jail during last year’s COVID outbreak are reaching plea deals.

Like Zyan Damper. His road to the Danville Correctional Center began when he and another man allegedly got out of a stolen car and committed a robbery near the Magnificent Mile in August 2019. He posted bail, then got arrested again two months later for felony theft.

Unable to pay a 10% deposit on his $175,000 bail amount, Damper stayed in jail until a judge allowed him to go home by posting just $1,000 as authorities rushed to clear the jail of as many inmates as possible when COVID arrived.

That lasted until August, when — exactly one year after the Magnificent Mile robbery took place — police found two guns in a car he was riding in during a traffic stop.

Damper admitted that the gun belonged to his mother and said he took it, an assistant state’s attorney said during a bond court hearing. His mother later came to the police station and identified the gun as hers, prosecutors said. She allegedly told police that she last saw her weapon at home earlier in the day.

Prosecutors charged Damper with felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon.

He has now cleared up all of his pending cases with a series of guilty pleas that are expected to send him to prison for just under a year.

Court records show Judge Catherine Haberkorn sentenced him to one year for the gun case, three years for the robbery, three years for a theft charge, and two years for a separate felony theft.

That may sound like a lot of time, but it’s not, really. Most of the sentences will be served concurrently, and the state is cutting the remaining time in half for anticipated good behavior. Damper also received credit for the time he spent in custody before pleading. When it’s all said and done, he is expected to spend 50 weeks in prison, according to Illinois Department of Corrections records.

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