Chicago — Lamont Cathey, known as the “jail-eating man’ for his habit of consuming parts of the Cook County Jail and other detention facilities, is heading back to prison after pleading guilty to committing another string of fitness center burglaries in Chicago and stealing one gym rat’s Maserati.
Cathey, now a 13-time convicted felon, pleaded guilty to burglary, aiding or abetting the possession of a stolen motor vehicle, and two counts of identity theft before Judge Aleksandra Gillespie. She sentenced him to 2½ years for the ID theft and four years for each of the other charges.
Illinois Department of Corrections records show he is expected to be paroled on May 14, 2024, a little more than three years after he was arrested on the charges.
During his many trips to jails and prisons, Cathey has reportedly cost taxpayers at least $2 million in medical bills by literally eating pieces of the facilities.
We first told you about him in 2021. That’s when prosecutors charged him with breaking into a Lincoln Park gym locker and using the victim’s credit cards at a nearby business — while on parole for burglary and possessing a stolen motor vehicle. Then, we told you about him again two weeks later when he allegedly escaped from electronic monitoring.
His latest convictions, like many of his earlier convictions, stem from allegations that he broke into gym lockers at fitness centers across the city.
On February 19 last year, a Google engineer went for a yoga session on the 1100 block of South Delano Court in the South Loop. Afterward, he discovered that someone had broken into his locker during his workout. His wallet, keys, and phone were gone. And his Maserati was missing from the parking lot, according to a CPD report.
Prosecutors said high-quality video showed Cathey walking out of the retail complex, lifting the parking garage gate with his hands, and driving the victim’s Maserati away. Cathey soon arrived at a nearby Target store, where he used the victim’s credit cards to buy two iPads worth $2,399.
Two days after the South Loop incident, and before police caught up with Cathey, he broke into a man’s locker at a yoga studio on the 200 block of West Ontario, according to a criminal complaint. He allegedly took $100 cash, a phone, and a wallet. He quickly used that victim’s credit cards to buy $2,400 worth of merchandise from Best Buy, 1000 West North Avenue, and over $1,100 in products from Target, 2656 North Elston, according to prosecutors.
After police arrested him last year, he failed to appear for his bail hearing. A police officer told the judge that Cathey was being treated at St. Joseph Hospital for “foreign body ingestion.”
Cathey ran up his first $1 million in medical bills 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 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 finally did, and he was sent to Stroger Hospital.