Former gang leader tried to rob a Chicago bank after escaping from halfway house, feds say – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

A convicted bank robber and former “Supreme Leader” of the Unknown Vice Lords street gang is facing new federal charges alleging he disappeared from a Chicago halfway house last August and attempted to rob another bank on the city’s Northwest Side.

Lester Warfield, 60, was charged in a two-count indictment made public this week with escape and attempted bank robbery, court records show. He’s been in custody at the Metropolitan Correctional Center since his arrest in September and will have a detention hearing Wednesday, records show.

Warfield’s court-appointed attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to the charges, Warfield escaped on Aug. 30 from the Salvation Army halfway house at 825 N. Christiana Ave., where he was being held after serving most of a 12 1/2-year prison sentence for robbing a bank in the Portage Park neighborhood in 2012.

Six days after he disappeared, Warfield tried to rob a Chase Bank branch on Pulaski Road in the city’s Avondale neighborhood, according to the charges. No details of that alleged crime were included in the indictment, though Chicago police arrest records indicated Warfield was taken into custody a short distance from the bank.

According to a prosecution filing in his previous case, Warfield was a “Supreme Universal Five-Star Elite King and Supreme Chief” of the Unknown Vice Lords street gang with a criminal history dating back decades, including convictions for attempted murder, home invasion, armed robbery, residential burglary, aggravated battery and possession of a weapon by a felon.

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Warfield’s first bank robbery occurred in July 2005, when he walked into a Bank One in Chicago and told the teller he was a member of the al-Qaida terrorist group, was armed with a gun and “would blow up the bank if the teller did not give him the money,” according to prosecutors.

Warfield was convicted and U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly sentenced Warfield to 6 1/2 years in prison.

Eight months after his release in 2011, while he was still on federal parole, Warfield and two others robbed a Chase Bank on Irving Park Road in Chicago, federal court records show.

“During that robbery, the defendant approached a young bank teller, passed him a note indicating that he had a gun, and threatened to shoot a nearby customer if the teller did not hurry up with the money,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing filing in 2014. Warfield was arrested later that day with nearly $3,000 in cash stuffed in his pants.

U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve sentenced Warfield to 151 months behind bars in that case, records show.

Before his release in April 2022, Warfield was ordered by the court to stay at the Salvation Army or other suitable halfway house “for all or part” of his three-year term of supervised release, records show.

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