The anti-gun rhetoric from Democratic politicians in Illinois doesn’t match the reality unfolding every day in the state’s criminal justice system. Every time a new gun control law directly aimed at legal gun owners is signed into law, politicians like Gov. J.B. Pritzker proclaim that those measures are desperately needed to curb violent crime and improve public safety. Meanwhile, existing laws are being ignored or dismissed on a daily basis by prosecutors offering sweetheart deals to offenders.
The latest example? A Decatur, Illinois man named Akim Thomas, who was accused of illegally trafficking firearms to those ineligible to lawfully purchase them.
A sworn affidavit from the Decatur Police Department said Thomas came to the attention of law enforcement in October 2022 after officers responded to a report of men with guns on a city street.
Suspects had been chased on foot by members of the Street Crimes Unit, which targets illegal weapons, and a dropped handgun was recovered after being sniffed out by a police dog. That 9mm semi-automatic was then traced back to Thomas.
Detective Todd Koester, who signed the affidavit, said police soon discovered Thomas, who had a FOID card, was doing a brisk trade in buying guns and selling them to non-FOID card holders.
“Akim Thomas admitted to Detective Koester that he has purchased approximately 20 firearms and only had a couple currently in his possession,” Koester added.
Nearly two dozen straw purchases that Thomas admitted to making. The actual number could be even higher of course. So what does the state do? Well, originally prosecutors charged Thomas with a number of counts of illegal weapons sales as well as “gunrunning”; a charge that carries a potential prison sentence between eight and forty years. But before Thomas’s trial began, the state’s attorney dangled a plea deal that was too good to pass up, and this week a judge gave the green light to a sentence that will keep Thomas out of prison entirely.
A Decatur man who went shopping for guns on behalf of customers who were not legally allowed to own them has been sentenced to 30 months of probation.
Passing sentence, Presiding Judge Thomas Griffith also imposed a 180-day jail sentence but stayed the custodial penalty while Thomas serves his probation. The judge further ordered him to pay $250 to have his DNA added to a criminal database maintained by the Illinois State Police.
Even a six-month jail stay was too much for the judge in this case, who instead sentenced Thomas to a mere two-and-a-half years of probation. If Thomas violates the terms of his probation, he won’t be going to prison for eight years. Instead, there’s a slight chance he’ll have to spend six months in the county jail.
Keep in mind that Thomas allegedly admitted his crime to police. This should have been a slam dunk for the prosecution. Heck, the state’s attorney could have referred Thomas’s case to the U.S. Attorney for federal charges, which would have likely put him away for at least two or three years. Instead, he’s free and clear, and as long as he stays out of trouble for the next couple of years (or at least doesn’t get caught), he doesn’t have to worry about spending a single day behind bars for an offense that Pritzker and his fellow Democrats assure us is a very serious crime.
Doesn’t look like it to me. From the state’s attorney to the judge who signed off on Thomas’s sentence, the criminal justice system cut him slack at every turn. That can’t help but send a message to others engaged in the same type of gunrunning Thomas was doing; keep on keeping on and don’t worry if you get caught, because the punishment most certainly won’t fit the crime.