Disaster workers in deadly Kenwood high-rise fire accused of stealing $19,000 from tenant – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Two disaster restoration workers assigned to a fire-damaged Kenwood neighborhood high-rise, where a resident died and numerous others were displaced last week, entered an undamaged apartment and stole $19,000 from a resident who was out of town, prosecutors told a Cook County judge Sunday .

The resident, however, had a surveillance camera inside her co-op apartment at 4850 S. Lake Park Ave. that alerted her to movement inside her home, authorities said during a bail hearing broadcast on YouTube.

The camera allegedly captured the face of one worker, Jose Gamboa, 26, as well as Anger Uzcategui Pacheco, 20, just as he appeared to smash the camera, prosecutors said.

The 40-year-old victim later discovered two envelopes missing from her home, one containing $3,000, and the other with $16,000, as well as two bags of jewelry, according to authorities. Both Pacheco and Gamboa face residential burglary charges, a Class 1 felony, according to court records.

A restoration team from A-Emergency Services & Restoration hauls equipment into the Kenwood high-rise complex a day after the fatal fire on Jan. 26, 2023.

The resident alerted the building’s management, which then alerted the restoration company, authorities said. Both men were general laborers for Workforce 360 Temp Agency, according to their arrest reports. A supervisor with A-Emergency Services & Restoration identified the men in the video as temporary workers who were hired to work in the fire-damaged building but were instructed not to enter any of the units, according to police records.

An extra-alarm fire swept through the 360 unit high-rise last Wednesday, leaving one resident dead and at least nine others injured, including a firefighter who suffered an orthopedic injury. It took about 300 firefighters and 80 pieces of equipment to put out the fire in just under two hours.

Records showed that the high-rise had a history of code violations and building inspection failures, including 11 citations for fire-related code violations since October 2021, according to Department of Buildings records.

Both men are expected to return to court next Monday.


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