Man charged with robbing West Side convenience store — his fourth arrest since Thanksgiving

Benjamin Fortner | Chicago Police Department; Parker Brothers

CHICAGO — Benjamin Fortner has managed to get arrested five times since late November, according to court records. But, unlike the first four times, he wasn’t released from custody after being hit with his latest criminal charge: armed robbery of a Chicago convenience store.

Let’s start at the beginning. Elmwood Park police arrested the five-time convicted felon in late November on misdemeanor charges of criminal trespass to a vehicle. He went home from the police station.

A judge put out a warrant for his arrest because he didn’t attend his first court date on December 8.

That same day, he was arrested and charged with assault in a domestic matter. Judge William Fahy released him from custody the next day on a GPS ankle monitor, according to court records.

On December 19, he didn’t show up for his first court date in that case, either, and a judge issued an arrest warrant, records show. He did, however, get arrested that day in Franklin Park.

Prosecutors said he struck a gas station clerk with a Slim Jim sausage and defiantly lit and smoked a cigarette inside the store. He was released from the police station.

Then, on December 30, Chicago police officers said they saw Fortner drive into a curb, sending his vehicle airborne, near the 6000 block of West Belmont. They charged him with driving on a revoked license, leaving the scene, and possessing a replica firearm. The cops said they found a pistol-shaped BB gun in his waistband. They also noticed the ankle monitor he was wearing, according to his arrest report.

He was released from custody again on January 3, still on the GPS program.

Three days later, on the evening of January 6, prosecutors say, a man with a bruised and swollen eye walked into La Estrella Mini Mart, 7000 West Diversey, and threatened the 32-year-old clerk with a gun. The offender, wearing a blue Chicago Bears sweatshirt with a large “C” on the front, gathered cash from the register, a laptop, and a Honey Bun, then jumped into a dark-colored Buick and fled, according to the allegations.

Villa Park police, tipped off to the Buick’s license plate number, spotted the car and pulled it over a short time later. Prosecutors said Fortner, sporting a swollen left eye and wearing a Chicago Bears sweatshirt with an orange “C” on the front, was inside the car. He allegedly had $350 cash on him and a dark mask and a pistol-shaped BB gun in the passenger door pocket.

Citing the strong resemblance Fortner bore with the robber, the fact that he has another case pending that involves allegations of possessing a pistol-shaped BB gun, and his criminal background, Judge Ankur Srivastava detained him as a safety threat.

He will remain in jail until at least his next court date, February 1.

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